What if you were a single mother with two kids struggling to make ends meet? What if housing in your town was so expensive that you lived in the only affordable apartment complex available? What if your new landlord tried to evict you and your kids without following the rules so he could raise the rent? “My stomach dropped when I saw the eviction letter,” recalls TracyLee, a resident of Amherst. “We didn't do anything wrong, but an eviction just feels so personal. This is where my kids have grown up.” TracyLee Lives in one of the last affordable apartment complexes in town. A single mother of two teenage sons, TracyLee receives assistance with her rent through the Section 8 program, which means that the Amherst Housing Authority pays a portion of TracyLee’s rent as long as the total rent charged by her landlord is determined to be reasonable. TracyLee’s worst fears became a reality when she found out that her new landlord had raised the rent by more than $400, which was beyond the level that the Housing Authority could approve and that TracyLee (and other tenants on Section 8) could afford. The landlord then started an eviction case against TracyLee and many of the building’s other low-income tenants. TracyLee prepared for the worst, thinking about the dimensions of her storage shelter... even wondering what living in a car would be like.
Fortunately, TracyLee found her way to Community Legal Aid. CLA attorneys discovered that TracyLee’s landlord had failed to properly terminate the tenancy before issuing the eviction notice. They filed a motion in housing court to stop the eviction action that the landlord brought. In August, the judge ruled in favor of TracyLee and dismissed the eviction. TracyLee continues to work with CLA to find ways of keeping Echo Village affordable for families like hers. She’s hopeful that she and her children will be able to remain in their home. TracyLee was overjoyed to be working with Jen and Liz. In her own words: “We finally had somebody that said, ‘Yes, you have rights...’ It evened the playing field, but it was bigger than that. We had a champion.”