For Evan Barker, staff attorney, his summer was partially spent tirelessly coordinating housing for Margaret–a homeless woman who uses a cane for assistance and suffers from renal disease and respiratory problems. In July, after being a behavioral health client at the Stephen Klein Wellness Center she was referred to Evan at LCD’s on-site medical legal partnership.
“The MLP at Stephen Klein is the only reason her case came to my attention,” said Evan. Margaret had been denied housing through the Philadelphia Housing Authority due to an outstanding state tax debt from 2010 in Maryland. Margaret had been homeless and living in and out of shelters for years.
Since she was homeless, Margaret had no reliable form of transportation to Stephen Klein to receive health and legal aid. Communication was also an issue to help. She had a cell phone, but no minutes. She also did not have reliable access to a public phone.
“We had to be creative,” said Evan. “We came up with a system to coordinate times and to get information. Margaret would take pictures with her phone and then email me the image files. I remember even getting a text from Niki Ludt, when the client called the office. It said ‘She’s waiting by the phone’ at the shelter. Basic communication was a real issue.”
Once Evan started working on her case, PHA moved quickly to get things resolved. On the day of the hearing, Bob Harchut, LCD’s GlaxoSmithKline PULSE volunteer, assisted Evan.
When the decision came down, Margaret was in attendance. She was granted a PHA home. She could now have a safe and clean life away from shelters and begin to make real change in her life. After the hearing, LCD partner Project HOME picked her up and took her to her new home, complete with a bed paid for by Margaret’s former shelter.
In the span of three months, Margaret’s life and health have improved drastically. Her health concerns are being addressed at Stephen Klein and she is living in a home.
Thanks to Evan’s creativity, hard work and the team effort of Bob Harchut, Niki Ludt, and Stephen Klein Wellness Center, Margaret went from an uncertain future to one that is definitely brighter.