Legal Action of Wisconsin Inc
Tax id (EIN)
Address31 South Mills Street
Madison, WI 53715
She called them “pallets,” and for weeks they were all a mother and her five children had to sleep on.
“Really they were towels, sheets and a couple of blankets,” she recalls. “I tried to fix it up as nice for them as I could.” They all slept on the floor in her mother’s apartment, her children in the room of a child already living there and herself in the living room.
A judge later ruled she never should have lost her benefits. But even with help from Legal Action of Wisconsin, it took more than a month to sort out the legalities and find the family a new place.
Without Legal Action's help, the family might still be homeless.
The mother and her children were evicted from their apartment in Madison after they stopped receiving assistance from the public housing program known as “Section 8,” which helped the family pay their rent.
The Section 8 payments were taken away after she was sued by a former landlord, who claimed she owed more than $1,400 for an unpaid water bill and property damage. She disputed the amount she owed the landlord. She says a leaking pipe in the ground was the reason her water bill suddenly ballooned to more than $800.
She also says she didn’t even know she was being sued until she got a letter telling her the case already had been heard in court, and that she had lost by default because she hadn’t shown up. Nevertheless, she started making regular payments on the debt to her former landlord.
The payments ended when she lost her job. She made a deal with the landlord to stop paying while she was unemployed. But soon she got a letter saying her Section 8 benefits were being terminated because of the past-due debt. Without Section 8, the family couldn't afford rent payments anywhere. She ended up being evicted. “I lost half of my possessions, furniture, clothing, everything,” she says. “I had no place to bring them.”
The floor of her mother’s apartment in nearby Middleton “was the only place for us to go,” she says. “There really was no room at all." She tried to keep her children, who range in age from 3 to 15, “outside and going to places, so they’d only have to come in to eat, shower and sleep.”
Trying to fix the situation herself, she went to one hearing, where she lost. A supervisior with the Section 8 program, she recalls, suggested she get a lawyer.
The family contacted Legal Action of Wisconsin just before her appeal deadline. Legal Action handled the appeal, and a circuit court judge ruled that the Section 8 assistance had been improperly terminated and should immediately be restored. The mother thanks Legal Action for helping her overcome her Section 8 problems, and she urges others who feel they’ve been treated unjustly to fight. “A lot of people I know, they get that official letter in the mail and they just give up,” she says. “They don’t know they have the option to fight.”