DEAR HARRIETTE: I just learned that one of my neighbors is about to be evicted. She and her family have lived in my building for generations. They are among the few who are left of the old guard, so to speak. I don't know what happened to make it so they haven't been able to pay their rent, nor is it my business. But if it is really true, I feel like I want to reach out to the family matriarch and see how she's doing. I don't know how much they owe, but I wish I could do something to help. How can I approach her without offending her? -- Reaching Out, Bronx, New York
DEAR REACHING OUT: You have to be careful here, because this woman's business is not yours. Plus, you may not have the resources to help her. If she really is being evicted in New York City, where the laws generously favor the tenant, it is likely that she owes a significant amount of money.
You can approach your neighbor by saying you wanted to check in on her to see how she's doing. Inquire about her and her family. Tell her you have been thinking about her and wanted to let her know that she is on your mind. Listen to what she has to say. There's a good chance she won't mention eviction. If she doesn't, you should not either. Just be present and kind to her. Let her take it from there.