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As title above, is it true that GM William Lombardy was homeless in the last year or so of his life?

  • @OlaStröm please read the tag info page – the [history] tag is not appropriate here and I've rolled it back. – Glorfindel Apr 24 '19 at 20:04
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He was evicted from his New York apartment more than a year ago for non-payment of rent. The New York Times covered the case in an article March 14 2016. This section would suggest that it was willful on Lombardy's part -

Mr. Lombardy did not appear for his initial June 2014 court date, nor several that followed, though on some occasions, his student Mr. Siudzinski, a 26-year-old filmmaker from Long Island, went in his place. Explanations for his absence included a burn on his hands, travel in Kansas to teach a chess student and general ailments including double-hip replacement and asthma. Both men have filed motions claiming a lack of accommodation for Mr. Lombardy’s disabilities.

In July 2014, a judge ruled in favor of the landlord, in part because Mr. Lombardy had not appeared in court. The next month, he did arrive to contest the new eviction notice, and Judge Anne Katz directed him to seek counsel through Manhattan Legal Services. Rubin Englard became his lawyer that December and began to work on a settlement. The landlord would have received $13,562.46, the balance of rent since the case started, with almost all of the money provided by social service programs. As the settlement progressed last spring, Mr. Lombardy rejected it and fired Mr. Englard (who did not respond to requests for comment).

An obituary from Chessbase says this -

William Lombardy died Friday, October 13th, at a friend's home where he was staying, in Martinez, California (approximately 50 kilometers northeast of San Francisco) of a suspected heart attack. Another friend, Joseph Shipman, confirmed the news to ChessBase and reported visiting with Lombardy at a cafe in the nearby town of Berkeley on October 6th:

Bill was in good spirits and looked good. We went over the key Caruana-Carlsen game from the Isle of Man tournament and his criticisms of Caruana’s play were on target. Although Lombardy was hospitalized for several months earlier this year, in recent months he was active and travelling, so news of his death came as a shock.

So, it is not that he spent the last year living on the street as has been suggested in some quarters.

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Here's a defintion of homelessness from HRSA/Bureau of Primary Health Care, Program Assistance Letter 99-12, Health Care for the Homeless Principles of Practice:

An individual may be considered to be homeless if that person is “doubled up,” a term that refers to a situation where individuals are unable to maintain their housing situation and are forced to stay with a series of friends and/or extended family members...A recognition of the instability of an individual’s living arrangements is critical to the definition of homelessness.

Under this definition, Bill Lombardy was homeless for the last 17 months of his life.

The New York Times' article is inaccurate with respect to its inexcusable omissions of key pieces of information. I should, know; I was Bill's POA for the case.

Citing his original housing court case (Index No. L&T 65365/2014, ST-DIL LLC v. William Lombardy), the case was brought against Bill using faulty evidence that even the Judge, herself, admitted in open court that she could not understand. Nor could the landlord's lawyer explain the "evidence" against Bill.

Bill had me take the evidence used against him and show it to two CPAs, who could not make sense of it, either. It was an incomprehensible jumble of numbers. We plan to show this in our documentary about Bill and his legacy and the way he was mistreated by the courts.

After this miscarriage of justice, Bill requested that Housing Court appoint a forensic accountant to see if any sense could be made of the landlord's "evidence." (citing from his Motion for Independent Forensic Accountant):

Let it be noted that said “rental bill” has no legend and the pages that are photocopied appear to have been folded over so that data is rather obviously missing. It is quite possible, given its ad hoc appearance, that the “rental bill” was spoliated. Indeed, Judge Milin questioned, in open court, the validity of the rather large sum allegedly owed, given the relatively low monthly legal rent required. To prevent any further confusion as regards legitimate “rent owed” or damages that I sustained, I motion for the New York County Housing Court to appoint an independent forensic accountant to evaluate the evidence of non-payment (that was submitted to the Housing Court as “valid” evidence) and to report his or her findings to the court.

When it was proved that Bill had not, in fact, been behind in his rent when the landlord started the case, the landlord quickly shifted its position and asked for the amount of rent due from the start of the case until that point in time.

In his final years, Bill was earning his living by coaching out of state students who could well afford to pay for his living expenses.

Bill would leave the state for months at a time to teach these students and would use money earned to pay his rent.

However, because Bill was forced to stay in Manhattan as the case against him proceeded (for two years), he had to turn down lucrative job offers that would allow him to pay his rent.

From, the 2nd Amended Complaint:

What damages to my income did the landlord’s lawsuit cause me that the state courts exacerbated (through deliberate indifferences)? First, I was offered a job paying me $7,500 a month teaching chess to a student in Kansas but had to decline this lucrative job offer because of the landlord’s frivolous (and unsupported) lawsuit against me. I wrote to my assistant, David Siudzinski, in a May 6, 2015 email, noting the job offer: “I had a contract for Teaching Chess to a very talented and skillful young man. But becaue (sic) of the Suit, I have been unable to continue making a semblance of a living. Over the past year, I have lost monthly a sum between six thousand and seven thousand five hindred (sic) dollars—and counting.” (see Exhibit “10”)" - Note: spelling errors occurred in this and other documents because Bill was having problems with his eyes and he felt pressured to respond quickly to unvalidated legal assaults on his character

Despite the court being unable to validate the "evidence" used against Bill, and despite the lawsuit (and court requirements) preventing Bill from earning his money to pay his rent, the court ruled against Bill and ordered his immediate eviction.

Let me repeat that: the landlord had NO proof against Bill and, still, he was evicted!

The attorney the court appointed Bill unconscionably advised him to "pay what was owed" rather than buckle down and fight the obvious injustice.

I met and worked with Bill for five years. What transpired over the last few years of his life will be revealed in a shocking documentary, one that reveals the callous treatment of homeless people and tenants who cannot afford respectable legal representation.

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  • That's really sad! :( – Myungjin Hyun Oct 25 '17 at 17:22
  • Sorry to hear it. POA = power of attorney, I guess – Laska May 7 '18 at 2:00
  • The attorney the court appointed Bill unconscionably advised him to "pay what was owed" rather than buckle down and fight the obvious injustice. The "justice" of not paying what one owes escapes me. I guess IANAL. – Andrew Lazarus May 10 '18 at 0:02
  • Bill was brought into court on made up charges. As the case progressed, Bill's forced appearences in court prevented him from earning the money to pay his rent. At that time, Bill made money by leaving the state for weeks at a time to teach children of wealthy individuals. He could not do that if he was due in court every month and had to prepare legal defenses. The result was that the landlord was able to make up a case after the fact, with the judge admitting that the accounting evidence was incomprehensible. – David Siudzinski May 31 '18 at 22:33
  • How do we reconcile "However, because Bill was forced to stay in Manhattan as the case against him proceeded (for two years), he had to turn down lucrative job offers that would allow him to pay his rent." with " a judge ruled in favor of the landlord, in part because Mr. Lombardy had not appeared in court." Sad story, I looked up to him when I was a kid learning the game. When is the documentary coming out? – user18959 Apr 22 '19 at 17:41

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