Updated: 2:20 p.m. | Rita Warren, known on Capitol Hill as the “Jesus Lady,” needs a little help from divine sources today.
The 83-year-old Fairfax, Va., resident, who sits in front of the Capitol with a life-sized mannequin of Jesus Christ every Tuesday and Thursday, is being evicted from the apartment she’s lived in for the past 22 years.
“I’ve lived in this apartment for 22 years. I never paid the rent late. Never,” Warren said. “I had a sick child and she passed away two months ago, so I called the manager here and said, ‘Look I'll pay a little late.’ ... First they said it was OK, then before I know it, I get a notice to go to court for eviction.”
Warren said a judge sided with the leasing company, and this morning, the sheriff’s department came knocking on her door to evict her.
“To protect my statue of Jesus, I barricaded myself in,” said Warren, who said she put a chair in front of her door and had a “very good, strong lock.”
Warren said her leasing company, Avalon, has been targeting her because of the Jesus statue, claiming they raised her rent from $800 to $1,800.
“There’s no question about it; the reason they want to kick me out is because my statue of Jesus comes in and out of my apartment,” Warren said.
She added that the rent increase drove her to pressure members of the Virginia Legislature to try and get rent control laws passed.
“One story gets out, they’re not going to be too happy,” Warren said. “Not only that, but I’m in the process of talking to a state Senator to get a law for rent control.”
HOH reached out to Avalon, but due to the power outages from this weekend’s storm, a request for comment was not immediately returned.
As HOH was on the phone with Warren, the sheriff’s office came knocking on her door. But Warren said she was not leaving until the media came to shed light on her situation.
“I don’t intend to open the door,” Warren said. “So I am just not going to move out of here. They can threaten to arrest me. Doesn’t bother me. I’ve been arrested 20 times.”
Lt. Steve Elbert from the Fairfax County Sheriff’s Office said the office conducted the eviction this morning.
“We conducted the eviction, so she didn’t barricade herself in,” Elbert said.
Warren did not answer her phone post eviction Monday afternoon.
Corrected: 2:21 p.m. An earlier version of this post misstated Rita Warren's last name.