To the world, we are legal aid attorneys.
To Lena, we took a stand to seek equal justice for her family.
As we began isolating early in 2020, business flagged ... and companies began letting employees go.
Lena’s husband was among the earliest to lose his job. Lena was facing a six-month insurance premium on top of normal bills without her family’s main source of income – and, soon after, a broken-down car. By July, she couldn’t pay the rent.
“I applied for rental assistance. They told me I didn’t qualify,” Lena said. “Things just kept getting worse.”
Water began dripping onto the breakfast table from a leak in the ceiling. The landlord “fixed” it with a stapler and some plastic. You owe me too much money, he told Lena. Eviction papers soon followed. The landlord had his own bills to pay.
Surely we qualify for some type of help, Lena thought. They had nowhere else to live.
She desperately turned to NLS ... and found a champion.
NLS’s legal aid attorney immediately saw that the law could alleviate many of this couple’s troubles.
- A properly filed CDC Eviction Protection Declaration led to a judge dismissing the landlord’s case. Lena could stay in her home.
- A corrected mistake in paperwork started rental assistance – and the landlord’s income – flowing in.
- Skillfully applied property law stopped water from dripping into the kitchen with real repairs.
NLS took a stand on the family’s behalf. The result was equal access to justice.
“I was ready to give up. I was trying so hard, and we were still almost homeless. Then the attorney just turned everything around,” Lena said. “They have made this whole pandemic bearable for us.”
You can stand up to get equal justice for the next vulnerable family.
When Charlotte* agreed to marry a man who had already hurt her, she didn’t think of him as an abuser. Jay’s anger could lead to cruel words and bruises from grabbing her too hard, but he hadn’t hit her – yet. That started within a year of their wedding day, and his rage-filled outbursts escalated after they had a child. Pregnant a second time, Charlotte felt forced to move with Jay to live with his parents overseas. Isolated, barred from access to even her own money, Charlotte endured threats to herself and her children with a knife, a heavy mallet and the words, “Some people just need hit.”
Eventually, back in the United States and more frightened than ever, Charlotte tried to file a temporary PFA (protection from abuse) order – but overwhelmed and afraid she was making the worse decision of her life, did it incorrectly. That’s when she learned about Neighborhood Legal Services. An NLS attorney stood by Charlotte from their first conversation through the final PFA hearing. Most importantly, though, NLS opened many more doors for Charlotte than the one to a courtroom.
“My NLS lawyer spent time talking to me about what abuse is. I hadn’t recognized a lot of what Jay had done as abuse, because most of the people in my family exhibited those behaviors,” she said. “One thing became crystal clear: Something I thought I had no choice in was actually abuse, and I didn’t have to go back to it.” Thanks to you and others who have generously supported us, we’ve been guiding people like Charlotte through formidable challenges to a place of stability, better understanding ... and hope.
Rena* was in her late 50’s taking care of two grandchildren and managing her household on $17,000 annually. She had been attempting to find employment with no success for quite some time. Employers were exploring her background and discovering that Rena had an arrest and criminal record for retail theft. Rena admits she had made bad decisions in her 20’s but had turned her life around. She was penalized, paid restitution and associated fines for her past mistakes yet she could not move beyond her past mistakes. Rena learned that NLS could help her “expunge” these records from over 30 years ago so that employers would not be prejudiced in the interview process. To Rena as well as most, the term “expungement” was a new term. Expungement is the process of going to court to ask a judge to seal a criminal record. When a record is sealed, it does not show up in a criminal background check. Today, Rena is now gainfully employed and supports herself and her family. Thanks to our donors like you, NLS was able to assist Rena and she realized that there was hope for someone like herself to make a new start.
*Names have been changed to protect the client’s identity and security