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On a cold and stormy evening, Mr. Turner sat alone in the dark in a rusty, old wheelchair wondering what he could do to improve his life. His deteriorating home was owned by his family and lacked electricity, running water, and proper insulation to keep him warm at night. Aside from allowing him to live there, his family wanted nothing to do with him.
Mr. Turner struggled to make a living for himself. He worked countless hours in a series of manual labor jobs – cutting grass, digging ditches, and working in restaurants. He rarely earned more than minimum wage. While he barely managed to make ends meet, Mr. Turner hoped for a better future.
Sadly though, things took a turn and got even worse. Mr. Turner seriously hurt his left foot in an accident. Because he couldn’t afford health insurance or out-of-pocket medical costs, he didn’t go to the doctor. Left untreated, his injury got infected – he faced a serious risk of amputation. To avoid putting pressure on his infected leg, Mr. Turner used a wheelchair to get around in.
His injury and infection became more and more painful over time. Eventually, it was so bad, he could no longer work full time. He had nowhere else to go, had no job prospects, and believe there was no one who would help him. He felt hopeless.
Thankfully staff at the One Stop Homeless Services Center in Baton Rouge referred Mr. Turner for a civil legal aid assessment at SLLS’ on-site legal clinic. After listening to Mr. Turner, our attorney determined that he might qualify for Social Security benefits. We helped him file his application and represented him throughout the several months long application process. We also helped him get Medicaid and connected him to doctors and medical transportation so he could finally get treatment for his conditions.
We were thrilled when we learned that Social Security approved Mr. Turner’s application. With these benefits, Mr. Turner now has a small monthly income and continued access to Medicaid so he can keep getting the medical care he needs.
Several months after we closed the case, Mr. Turner dropped by our clinic to check in on his attorney. She learned that Mr. Turner’s health had improved tremendously. And now he’s fixing up his family’s property so he will have a safe and warm home to live in this holiday season.
Your generous support ensures that people like Mr. Turner have access to attorneys who will listen, who think holistically and connect them to other services they need, and who fight tirelessly for their legal rights. Thank you!
PLEASE NOTE BEFORE READING: The names and other identifying information of the individuals portrayed were changed to protect our client’s identity.
With generous support from people like you, New Orleans became the first city in the U.S. to end homelessness for veterans in 2014. Yet, there will always be a need to ensure equal justice for all. Today, thousands of veterans in southeast Louisiana continue to “combat” life on the streets. Together, we can defend the rights of the brave men and women who served our country and ensure that they have a safe and stable home to sleep in at night.
Recently, you gave hope to a 34-year-old veteran who struggled with serious health issues and helped end his homelessness.
After leaving the U.S. Army, Mr. Leonards struggled with PTSD, depression, and several other medical conditions. Despite his illnesses, he managed to build a life for himself as a civilian and work a full-time job. Unfortunately, over time, his medical conditions got worse preventing from maintaining a job. After losing his job, Mr. Leonards was evicted.
With nowhere else to turn, Mr. Leonards slept in different homeless shelters in downtown New Orleans. When the shelters were full, he went under the overpass to sleep on the cold, hard sidewalk. Faced with the reality of having no income, no safe place to lay his head at night, and increasingly severe health problems, Mr. Leonards felt helpless and defeated. Thankfully he quickly found hope at Southeast Louisiana Legal Services (SLLS).
Within minutes of walking into our office, he met with a caring and passionate attorney who immediately opened a Social Security disability benefits case for him. SLLS also referred him to one of our partner agencies who quickly helped him obtain rental assistance so he could get off the streets.
Thanks to our advocacy, Social Security approved Mr. Leonards’ application for disability benefits in only 4 weeks (a process than typically takes 4-8 months to complete). Now that he has the economic support he needs to afford his rent, he can focus on his health.
Because of people like you, homeless veterans and people with disabilities can access critical legal help they otherwise could not afford. You have the power to defend their rights and to ensure that they can get on their feet and move forward. Thank you!
Right around Christmas in 2016, Michael—a 68-year-old Vietnam War veteran who suffers from PTSD—received a notice that the lease for his affordable apartment in New Orleans was being terminated. He had lived there for seven years and paid his rent on time, with the help of a housing voucher for $789 a month. Being a model tenant, he couldn’t understand why his lease wasn’t being renewed.
The work of SLLS housing attorney Hannah Adams is featured in “Over a hundred families in New Orleans East facing eviction in September,” by WWLTV.