Stories from the Civil Justice Crisis

Safe at Home

Experiencing debilitating health issues and the death of her grandson, Sonja sought the support of her daughter and doctors. She was met with multiple threats of eviction from her property manager.

Sonja – Safe At Home
Sonja’s faith and devotion to her family are the first things you notice when you visit her home. The light-filled apartment where she has lived for seven years is decorated with photographs and mementos. Furniture is comfortably arranged to accommodate her walker, which she needs to get around at 69. Sonja loves her quiet life in the small North Carolina foothills town, where she raised her children.
Sonja – Safe At Home
In 2017, Sonja’s 23-year-old grandson died suddenly. The rules of her apartment complex limited overnight visitors to three nights per month, but she secured permission from the property manager for her daughter to live with her for six weeks following the young man’s death. After the six-week permitted stay, Sonja’s daughter continued to visit frequently because the visits were a comfort to them in their grief, and because Sonja needed the extra help around the house. Her severe knee problems were getting worse, and her daughter helped her with everyday tasks like cooking, cleaning and running errands. “My daughter had come here to help me because I had gotten to a point where I couldn’t walk with my left leg hardly at all,” Sonja said. “Her son had died just a few months before. She’s been with me through everything.”
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The Civil Justice Connection

Tenants with disabilities have legal rights that can protect them from eviction and enable them to get help with daily activities – but only when enforced in a court of law. Too often, though, courts don’t uphold these rights either because the tenant doesn’t see their problem as legal, and therefore doesn’t seek legal help, or because they simply do not have access to legal representation. When Sonja’s knee surgery meant she needed live-in help, the law was on her side, but without a lawyer she was at real risk of eviction. All too often, people like Sonja lose their cases in court – not because they’ve done something wrong, but because they don’t have the legal information and help they need to advocate for their rights.

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