NEWS AND STORIES
Displaced Tenants Avoid Homelessness
An Atlanta apartment complex had been deteriorating for some time. The final problem was that the main meters to each of the complex's buildings had been vandalized. Georgia Power came out and said the meters were unsafe. They told management that if repairs were not made, they would return and pull the meters, thereby leaving the complex without electricity. The owners and the management group did not want to spend any further money and began boarding up apartments when their tenants moved out. None of the tenants were able to pay rent because the management office had been boarded up and there was no address to send the rent.
When informed that Georgia Power was coming back to re-inspect, management issued notices to all tenants giving them seven days to vacate, after which "it is possible that utilities will be disconnected by the utility company." The notice offered an "incentive" to move of a $200 cash payment if the tenant signed away any legal claims they had against the owners. Some panicked residents took that offer, but there were reports that some of those checks bounced.
Southside Legal Aid Managing Attorney Jamie Aliperti located the management company and sent an anti-lockout letter that was forwarded to its main office in Tennessee. A Knoxville attorney wrote back, saying initially that the owners were "tapped out."
Jamie represented several of the tenants in their claims against the owners for breaching their leases and for moving expenses and was able to negotiate a combination of cash payments and rent arrearage settlements for six households totaling $20,230.
One client was disabled by a stroke, blind in one eye, 76 years old and fiercely independent. Jamie was able to negotiate a $1,500 settlement in certified funds. Our Disability Integration Project assisted him in applying for SOURCE and other programs to provide him at-home services.
We were able to get a similar cash payment for a second elderly client also disabled by a stroke and get him admitted to the Capitol Towers subsidized senior complex near Turner Field on the basis of his impending homelessness, where his rent is significantly lower and the conditions much more sanitary.
Another client was a single mother with three children. She had not been able to pay rent in several months and was $3,710 in arrears. She lacked the funds to move. Jamie negotiated a $1,500 payout to her by certified funds, waiver of any unpaid rent, a neutral or better rent reference, and a written guarantee that any debt reported to a credit agency would be taken off. This client was able to put her belongings in storage and find another place with the help of the settlement money.
Just Another Day With Legal Aid's
Some of our cases make the evening news; sometimes you read about us in the "Atlanta Journal Constitution." Most days, you don't know what a legal aid attorney or an ombudsman has done for someone in your community.
These are a few of their stories:
During a routine visit to a personal care home, an ombudsman and several residents saw a large cockroach run across the room and hide underneath the sofa. The residents told the ombudsman that they often saw bugs and that they were afraid that bugs crawled on them while they slept. The ombudsman spoke to the manager, who said she would ask the owner to call an exterminator. On a follow-up visit, the ombudsman spoke to the residents, who told her that an exterminator came and they have not seen any bugs since.
Ms. L complained of terrible hip pain when she met a volunteer ombudsman on a routine visit to her nursing home. She threw back the covers to show how her leg was rotated outward from the hip joint. When Ms. L complained to the staff at the nursing home about her pain, they would give her Tylenol if she asked for it. But what Ms L really needed was to see a doctor, so the ombudsman spoke with the Director of Nursing, who agreed to call the doctor. The doctor found that Ms. L's hip was broken. Thanks to the ombudsman's intervention, she had immediate surgery and was soon able to walk again.
During a monthly call to Ms. M, a Money Follows the Person client, Ms. M’s daughter told the ombudsman that her mother was trapped in the home because she could not place outgoing calls, she could not leave house for lack of a wheelchair ramp, and she was not receiving transportation services. The situation was becoming critical because she needed to go to the doctor to get more insulin, and she needed to go to the Social Security office to manage her benefits. The Ombudsman spoke to the MFP Transition Coordinator and within one week full phone service had been restored, construction on a wheelchair ramp was underway, and Ms. M had been able to go to both the doctor and the Social Security office.