Brooklyn is the only home that Angela has ever known. She has been through many ups and downs alongside her friends and neighbors in Crown Heights and values her apartment, where she has lived with her children for over 18 years. Angela faced financial setbacks and owed her landlord $2000 in back rent. In response, the landlord tried to evict her. She knew that if she lost her apartment, she would not be able to afford market rate rent elsewhere and may result in her and her children entering the shelter system. Distraught but not defeated, Angela sought help. She was referred to Brooklyn A by a friend.
“I came into the office, and Kristie [my Brooklyn A attorney] was like wonder woman. It was a long battle, and all I can say is that she stuck with me through thick and thin. We were like a dynamic duo.” Angela was approved for a one-shot deal but could not pay the arrears, or money owed, in full. She took on 3 jobs to be able to pay back rent and be approved for emergency motions for an extension of time. While an average of 5 motions are generally filed, in Angela’s case, 13 were filed.
“There were many times when the marshal would show up at my door, trying to get my son and me to leave and then Kristie would run to the courthouse to make an emergency filing, and she would call and tell me to tell them that she was at the courthouse so we couldn’t be kicked out. It was nerve-wracking and stressful, but I knew Kristie was by my side.
When Angela settled the eviction case in court with her landlord, Kristie asked her if she needed any repairs in her apartment. She did; her family had been living with leaks and mold, resulting in upper-respiratory problems. The ceiling in the bathroom and kitchen fell on Angela, injuring her. She lived without a sink in the kitchen for 8 months.
“They didn’t care that all of this was going on. [The landlord] wanted to kick me out so they could re-do the apartment and charge more rent. They did that to a couple of other apartments in my building.” The judge was outraged when she saw the uninhabitable conditions and ordered the landlord to make all the repairs. Many people would have given up, but Angela was determined to keep her home for her and her children.
With an estimated 25% of New Yorkers unable to pay rent in May 2020, Brooklyn A is providing an essential service by informing tenants of their rights, helping people apply for public benefits to ease financial burdens, and spreading awareness of how we can advocate for people in danger of homelessness.
Click here to donate now and support Brooklyn A’s work, ensuring that all people have access to a safe, healthy, and affordable home, free from discrimination and the threat of displacement.