For many of LCD’s clients, the strong partnership between LCD attorneys and health care providers helps LCD’s clients bridge the gap between uncertainty and security. This is true whether the relationships occur in LCD’s medical-legal partnerships or through networking with other organizations. It was this close relationship that helped Leola Howell and her daughter when they needed it most.
Leola and her daughter, Rylee, experienced this first hand. An unexpected turn of events caused the pair to lose their housing. To Leola’s relief, a family friend immediately opened their home to them. Unfortunately, the reprieve proved short-lived. The friend’s tenancy was at risk since they were not on the lease. The mother and daughter had to quickly find a safe place to live.
Meanwhile, when the child was at an outpatient appointment at the CHOP Care Network Chestnut Hill, the CHOP social worker discovered this family needed emergency shelter services. The social worker acted immediately by reaching out to the Office of Homeless Services (OHS). However, OHS said that it could not accommodate Leola and her daughter. That’s when Esther Miller, LCD Managing Attorney, was contacted.
Esther reached out to OHS to figure out what was going on. There had been some miscommunication and Leola, who relied on a personal care aide (PCA), believed that her need of the PCA was the issue. When Esther contacted OHS, she was able to clear up the issues with OHS and began working on the next immediate issue—shelter. She led a coordinated effort on the part of several different agencies to find housing for Leola and Rylee.
While Esther searched for shelter to accommodate Leola and her daughter, LCD was able to put the mother and daughter up in a hotel thanks to a small fund.
“One of the challenges in finding Leola and her daughter housing is that there is only one family shelter in the city,” Esther explained. “Obviously it was paramount that we keep mother and daughter together.”
Months of advocacy and collaboration paid off. Leola and Rylee now live in fully accessible subsidized housing through Inglis House.
Esther continues to work with the City of Philadelphia, the Office of Homeless Services and Liberty Resources to remove the barriers to affordable and accessible housing facing people like Leola. Her efforts embody LCD’s proud mission of seeking inclusion, diversity, and justice for those with disabilities in Philadelphia and surrounding counties.
Leola Howell’s case was profiled in The Philadelphia Inquirer. Click here to read.