In times of crisis, Legal Aid lawyers are fighting harder than ever to get justice for our clients. This is one of our attorneys, Margaret Burgess. On Friday, amidst the chaos of this pandemic, Margaret went to court on behalf of our client, Mr. Carter*. Mr. Carter has been living in terrible conditions in his rented apartment. The upstairs apartment has been leaking water into his unit, and as a result, his apartment’s floor is covered in standing water and mud. The ceiling in his bathroom has completely collapsed, leaving sheetrock and insulation on his floor and in his tub. Mold covers the walls, and the plumbing in the kitchen sink is broken, leaving Mr. Carter — who is blind — to have to empty a bucket of water regularly. On top of all of that, nearly all of his belongings have been destroyed due to water damage. Despite these clear threats to Mr. Carter’s safety, the apartment complex has not made any repairs and even tried to evict Mr. Carter, after determining his unit was “uninhabitable” and terminating his lease on this basis.
Before COVID-19 disrupted the court systems, Margaret was able to stop the eviction. However, the apartment complex was still not making repairs or moving Mr. Carter to another unit. Recognizing that safe and healthy housing is essential during this public health crisis, Margaret filed another lawsuit and went to court last Friday to demand the apartment complex immediately move Mr. Carter to a different, safer apartment. She argued that now was the worst time for someone — especially a person with a disability — to be living in unsafe conditions, and the judge agreed. The judge ordered the landlord to move Mr. Carter should be moved to safer housing within the week, where he’ll be able to finish out his lease.
*Name changed to protect client confidentiality