The Legal Aid Society is thankful to the Bank of America Charitable Foundation for its recent grant award in support of our Homeless Legal Prevention Project, which provides free legal advice, representation and education to low-income individuals and families in Palm Beach County who are in immediate danger of eviction or foreclosure. This generous grant award will enable Legal Aid to continue providing critical legal services that help individuals and families facing homelessness stay in their homes and move towards financial stability like the following client, John.

Our Homeless Legal Prevention Project recently assisted John, a disabled middle-aged man who lived in a government-subsidized apartment complex. After paying his rent and his monthly household bills, John had less than one hundred dollars of discretionary income. John provided each monthly rental payment on time and was surprised in December when he was served with an eviction lawsuit. The same day, he received notice that his checking account was overdrawn.

Earlier in the year and unbeknownst to John, his landlord neglected to process John’s June rent payment. In December, the landlord submitted John’s June rent payment and December rent payment at the same time, which caused John’s account to become overdrawn. Both rent payments were returned. The landlord made no attempts to inform John of the issue and immediately filed an eviction lawsuit.

After daily phone calls, John’s Legal Aid attorney was able to convince the landlord to accept repayment of money owed, but the landlord demanded that John be required to pay his attorney’s fees. Our Legal Aid attorney contacted a county department to assist John, and together they worked to enroll John in case management services, which helped to ensure that John received all the benefits he qualified for and assisted him in developing a budget. Additionally, county staff identified a source of funds to assist John in repaying the entire amount owed, including the landlord’s attorney’s fees.

John’s case settled out of court and he was able to reside in his apartment until the end of the lease term. Not only was he able to avoid homelessness through the efforts of Legal Aid, he was also able to improve his quality of life through enrollment in additional government programs and learn fiscal responsibility to avoid future issues which might lead to homelessness.