In addition to the work that BayLegal’s fair housing practice has done throughout the pandemic on eviction and eviction prevention, our practice also works on issues related to disability discrimination and accommodation, racial discrimination, and other forms of discrimination. These issues remain a pressing concern and seem to have accelerated during the pandemic as pressures on low-income tenants have increased. Our work to protect tenants from discrimination, “constructive eviction,” and harassment on the basis of race, and disability, and other protected identity markers continues to be a top priority during this period.
“Monique,” a Black single mother of a young child, survived a gunshot wound to her head three years ago. She secured supportive housing as a formerly homeless parent. During the first few months of the pandemic, another tenant was harassing her and got her caregiver’s car towed away. Monique, who now lives with PTSD and cognitive disabilities from her traumatic brain injury, was triggered by that harassment and fought back. Her housing provider then initiated an eviction case against Monique and her child. During this case, Monique’s unit accidentally caught fire. BayLegal attorney Asma Husain stepped in, advocating for the family to be transferred to a habitable apartment. Instead, the housing provider forced Monique and her young child to live for months during the pandemic in the charred apartment without a stove, without a microwave, and with exposed wires from open walls. Husain litigated the eviction case and pushed it to the brink of trial. Just before jury selection was to commence, the housing provider finally agreed to Husain’s demands to accommodate Monique’s disabilities. They agreed to call off the eviction and rapidly rehabilitate her apartment so that it is once again safe and habitable.