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Legal Clinic for the Homeless

Cases & Credits

A wheelchair-reliant client who was denied housing for a so-called criminal background

Ms. L. was a resident of New York's Coler-Goldwater Hospital and Nursing Facility. She had been picked up off the streets and sent in for medical treatment for numerous conditions, including seizures, hypothyroidism, asthma, gastric ulcers, a heart murmur, glaucoma and arthritis that makes her reliant on a wheelchair. She applied for NYCHA housing, only to find out that she was ineligible for another four years due to her "criminal background," which consisted of two convictions of criminal trespass when she was merely sleeping in hallways to keep warm. In effect, she was denied housing for being homeless.

The Legal Clinic for the Homeless found and supervised a volunteer attorney to represent Ms. L. at a hearing appealing the denial of housing. In addition to helping her prepare testimony, the attorney worked diligently to collect supporting materials to show that Ms. L. was fully rehabilitated from any "criminal" past, and would be a productive member of a future public housing community. After hearing the client's testimony and reviewing the materials, the judge reversed the original determination and found Ms. L. eligible for public housing. She was grateful to have an advocate at her side through such a stressful ordeal, and is looking forward to a new, healthy life in an apartment of her own.