Housing lottery winner claims prize with some payment help

Annie “Lonie” Battle, 73, is yet to finish emptying the moving boxes in her new Hayward home. But one of the first things she unpacked and situated since getting the keys a month ago are the pictures of her late husband, his big, brawny arms wrapped around her in nearly every shot.

Since marrying 53 years ago, this holiday season will be the first she’ll spend without him. James died of kidney failure in March.

While his passing leaves behind a lifetime of memories — like the one of the couple’s trip to Barbados, captured in a black-and-white photograph on her kitchen counter — it’s also left no shortage of obstacles for Battle as she confronts an uncertain future on her own.

Last summer, Battle was no longer able to afford the rent at a nearby apartment the couple lived in, and she worried about being kicked out. Fortunately, she won a lottery for a low-cost unit at a brand-new senior residential complex, but then didn’t have the money to make the initial payment.

“I panicked originally,” said Battle. “At my age, I should never have to move again. But James wouldn’t want me falling apart. He was always there for me, and now I have to find my way without him.”

Battle credits her faith for helping her stay afloat.

Winning an affordable housing spot at the new Eden Housing apartments in Hayward, with about 5,000 people applying for 150 units, was nothing short of an act of God, she said. That was followed by a little more help with the money she needed to move in.

The Chronicle’s Season of Sharing Fund selected Battle as one of this year’s recipients and paid her housing deposit and first month’s rent.

“It’s like God opened up the windows and heaven is pouring out,” Battle said, sitting at the small table in her partially unpacked, one-bedroom apartment, her Bible in front of her. “God has been good to me since my husband died.”

Battle said she’s been tested before, giving her the confidence to push on alone now.

Seven years ago, the couple lost the home they had poured their savings into in Richmond.

James Battle, known among friends for his black Stetson hat and sturdy figure, had lost his job running security for Bill Graham Presents, promoter of such signature Bay Area acts as the Grateful Dead and Janis Joplin. Lonie had already retired after 30 years working for PacBell, and the couple could no longer make their mortgage payments.

They ended up finding an apartment they could afford in Hayward.

Three years later, James got ill, and never recovered.

“My husband and I had a great life,” Lonie said.

Despite the ups and downs, Battle’s spirits never seem to weaken.

“Considering what she’s gone through this year and that her husband was sick, she’s so positive,” said Marlene Dow, a volunteer at East Bay Bible Church in Oakland where she’s known Battle since 1999. “She was shaky there for a minute, but she was a prayer warrior.”

 

This story was written by Kurtis Alexander of the San Francisco Chronicle. You can follow him on Twitter: @kurtisalexander.

The original article can be found here.