Kathryn is a fighter, a young woman who, unfortunately, needed an attorney to help her in a desperate housing situation. It is often due to an ‘unfortunate’ situation that anyone needs an attorney. It is especially appalling when one is needed and none are willing to help.
Kathryn almost found herself in this situation. That is, until a Christian Legal Clinics of Philadelphia (CLCP) attorney came to her aid.
After living in a low-income housing unit in downtown Philadelphia for six years, Kathryn discovered one day that she had bed bugs. It took three doctors visits for her innumerable bites to be confirmed as bed bugs, at which point her doctor wrote a note and advised that her apartment be exterminated immediately. Despite the doctor’s note, her housing manager was reluctant to act. Still, Kathryn persisted.
Later the same week, management finally decided to call in an exterminator, but that exterminator denied the presence of bed bugs. Kathryn saw clear evidence of the bugs in her room. Two more exterminators came to the premises, but they reported only what management wanted to hear: that there were no bed bugs. Frustrated and upset, Kathryn had no choice but to stay at a hotel for the week, at her friend’s expense. All of her belongings were sealed in bags. She refused to pay rent, until the situation was resolved. At one point, when she broke down in tears at her apartment building’s front desk, they threatened to call the police. When she warned other residents of her bed bug issue, management put two strikes on her disciplinary record.
Feeling alone, exhausted, and traumatized, Kathryn did everything in her power to seek justice. She e-mailed the founder of the low-income housing assistance program to which she belonged. Eventually, she walked through the doors of a legal assistance organization for the first time, knowing they existed to help people like herself who were in dire straits. She provided clear documentation of her predicament, yet, after a brief interview she was simply told, “We have a conflict of interest; we can’t help you.”
Next, an internet search led Kathryn to Christian Legal Clinics of Philadelphia. She says with a laugh and a smile, “I will never forget how [the attorney] Mr. Colbert offered to pray with me. I told him, I’m not really a religious person, but… the prayer worked! Once I met him, I knew ‘this is the person who is going to help me.’ ”
Mr. Colbert fought on Kathryn’s behalf until the housing management finally met her demands. He accomplished what Kathryn had not been able to do on her own. Together, they won the battle.
One month after the discovery of bed bugs, Kathryn was released from her lease, given her security deposit, and not required to pay the month’s rent. Her disciplinary record was also cleared of unfounded charges. She was free to pursue a more comfortable arrangement, without the financial burdens her housing management tried to place on her.
In an emotionally and physically trying situation, Kathryn pounded on the locked doors of justice and got no answer. But the doors of Christians Legal Clinics of Philadelphia, as always, were wide open, and its attorneys ready and eager to help.
Kathryn is currently preparing to graduate from Temple University with a degree in journalism.