Justice & Diversity Center’s Homeless Advocacy Project: Steady Stream of Income Does Not Always Equal Steady Stream of Housing

Mr. King* is disabled by mental health impairments and lives in a supportive housing project with on-site social and medical services. As a Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipient he has a steady stream of income, however his mental health is not so steady. King suffers from paranoia and anxiety creating episodes in which he falls behind in taking his medications. Then, in turn, his interactions with others become unpleasant. It was after one of those episodes that the supportive housing provider moved to evict King. They alleged that his behavior was threatening to the staff and fellow tenants.

When King arrived at the Justice & Diversity Center’s Homeless Advocacy Project (HAP) he was frustrated by the housing provider’s exaggerated claims and was tempted to give up his housing all together. He did acknowledge that he occasionally has trouble controlling his behavior. At times he can be loud, but he never threatens others.

Recognizing that King was entitled to a reasonable accommodation because of his disability, a HAP supervising attorney agreed to take the case. The HAP attorney marshaled together evidence confirming that during his episodes King’s behavior may have been offensive, however it didn’t rise to the level of threats. After lengthy negotiations with the housing provider’s attorney, and in consultation with JDC’s social worker, the HAP attorney crafted a settlement agreement in which King’s social workers notify King, the HAP attorney, and King’s therapist if King’s behavior is deteriorating. After that notification his behavior must improve within a few days or they will proceed with an eviction. King also agreed to weekly meetings with his on-site social workers.

We are pleased to report that King has complied with the settlement agreement and has retained his housing. The road has had its bumps but thanks to the well-crafted settlement agreement and the expert representation he received from the HAP attorney, his housing remains stable.

*The client’s name has been changed.