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Not All Heroes Wear Capes

I do solemnly swear that I will support the constitution of the United States, and the constitution of the State of New York, and that I will faithfully discharge the duties of the office of attorney according to the best of my ability. These are the last words that are spoken right before our heroes jump into action. This is the oath that must be taken to officially become a lawyer. An oath that Barbara Reilly, LSHV staff attorney, lives by.

It was the middle of March 2020 and everything was different. It was Barbara’s first day working at LSHV and the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. She arrived at her office in Mount Vernon, ready to get to work. As she reviewed her newly assigned cases, Barbara rolled up her sleeves and started planning  on ways to help her clients.

The first case involved a client who lived in a project-based section 8 building that is regulated by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The client was afraid, stressed, and desperate to stay in her home. The fear and stress were caused by an action that was brought against her for nonpayment of rent in an amount that was impossible for her to pay. This client reminded Barbara of the many individuals who come to LSHV every day in need  of  assistance, who don’t know where to turn, and are in crisis. Barbara quickly  began the process to resolve the situation.

After meeting with the client and getting the facts, Barbara set out to meet with the landlord in an attempt to rectify the situation in a manner that would make both parties happy. That didn’t work. The landlord was not willing to negotiate, so Barbara headed to court. Standing tall, with her head held high, remembering the oath she took, Barbara sought a dismissal of the case against her client.

Barbara argued that to increase the rent, the landlord must comply with the recertification requirements laid out in the HUD handbook and guess what? – The Judge agreed! The Judge ruled that the landlord could not collect increases in rent without proper notice and when the recertification process was not in line with the standards laid out by HUD.

Ultimately, Barbara was successful, the client is no longer afraid of losing her home and has much less stress as a result. Barbara is ready to fight for the next client who needs her help.

Not all heroes wear capes. Our lawyers are amongst some of the brightest, strongest, and qualified in the Hudson Valley. They consistently deliver the promise to provide free, high quality counsel in civil matters for individuals and families who cannot afford to pay an attorney when their basic human needs are at stake. In 2020, our lawyers handled 5,239 housing cases, impacting 12,265 individuals. If you, or someone you know needs assistance with staying in their home, visit lshv.org or call 1-877-574-8529 for more information or to get help now.