Pro Bono News

She escaped an abusive marriage. Now she faces eviction from her home.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

She escaped an abusive marriage. Now she faces eviction from her home.

"It wasn’t the first time the 45-year-old woman’s husband had verbally abused her. But last September, he “spiraled out of control,” she said. In front of their children in their Northeast D.C. living room, he threatened to stab her to death.

The woman immediately called the police and soon obtained a civil protection order against her husband, who left the home. But a city-issued housing voucher was based on their joint income. Working as a custodian and supporting their three children, she didn’t earn enough to pay the family’s share of the rent on a three-bedroom apartment.

After denying her repeated requests for help, the D.C. Housing Authority stopped making housing payments altogether last month, according to a complaint filed in federal court Wednesday on behalf of the woman. Now, the woman and two of her children are at risk of eviction.

“I’m already stressed out with all that I went through, all that I’m going through,” said the woman, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because she fears retaliation from her former husband. “I just can’t do it by myself.”

The federal complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia alleges the Housing Authority unlawfully ended the woman’s assistance and denied her request for a hearing. The lawsuit, filed by the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia and the D.C. law firm Alston & Bird, claims the agency violated the woman’s constitutional rights under the Fifth Amendment as well as the federal Violence Against Women Act and D.C. regulations.

The woman’s lawyers are seeking a preliminary injunction that would require the Housing Authority to immediately issue the woman a new voucher and resume paying the subsidy to her landlord..."

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