Fair Housing

DRC Helps Client Stay in their Home

This is a faded color photograph of a woman sitting on a plastic chair outside of a home. There are many flowers. She is wearing a floral tank top and shorts and has her hair pulled back in a bun.

One of DRC’s priorities is to advocate for people when their rights under the Fair Housing Act are being obstructed because of their disability.

The story of one consumer that DRC represented illustrates the importance of housing advocacy. Cathy Rollheiser has a mental illness which makes it difficult for her to attend to her affairs during times of stress. She has lived in the same Section 8 apartment for 15 years. She has a companion dog as an accommodation.

Last winter, Cathy was mugged and she underwent abdominal surgery because of her injuries due to the crime. One physical result of the surgery was a problem with incontinence. About that time, construction workers who were renovating her apartment supposedly complained to the manager about the smell of urine in the apartment. However, the urine smell was caused by used diapers in the trash, caused by incontinence. The manager claimed it was caused by the companion dog, so the manager posted and mailed lease violation notices. Cathy was staying at a friend’s house while recovering from surgery to correct the incontinence and did not see the notices. Cathy told the manager that she would be gone.

By the time Cathy returned to find the notices, the manager had terminated the lease, and Cathy was homeless. Cathy and her case worker met with the manager to try to resolve the problem. The manager refused and later told the case manager that “everyone knows Cathy is crazy.”

DRC provided legal representation to Cathy when the owners sued to evict her based on the alleged lease violations. DRC entered a counter claim for Fair Housing Act violations, arguing that the supposed violations were minor and the real reason for the eviction was Cathy’s mental illness. At the urging of the judge, the case was settled during the trial. Cathy remains her apartment because of DRC’s intervention.

Fair Housing