Legal Aid Success Stories - Safety
The day she learned of Ben’s death, Josie was at her mother’s house. When she returned to their home, she found that the landlady’s daughter had locked her out. It turned out that Ben had lied to the Housing Authority of Clackamas County about his household composition and left her off of his Section 8 Voucher when they moved into the home. Josie was now homeless!
Josie reached out to Clackamas Housing Rights and Resources, who referred her to legal aid. Legal aid represented Josie, asserting her rights under the Violence Against Women’s Act and fair housing law, and requested that the Housing Authority grant her surviving household member status and give her the voucher. The Housing Authority granted the request in mid-March, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the intake process was delayed for several months. Josie finally got her voucher in July 2020, and she is now able to live independently and safely for the first time. Josie said, “I don’t know where I would be now without the help of legal aid. They gave me a second chance at life – I am safe and happy again!”
Rose lived in Central Oregon with her two toddlers, AJ and Emma, and Emma’s father Jon. Throughout their relationship, Jon violently abused Rose. In 2018, Jon attempted to kidnap Rose during an incident of domestic violence. This was his second criminal offense for abusing her, so he was sent to prison for several years. Despite his incarceration, Jon continued to harass Rose through his attorney and his family members. Jon’s father filed a motion to intervene in the custody case trying to get visitation with Emma. Rose was forced to flee out of state to get away from Jon and his family. She knew she needed protection, and help with custody of Emma, so she reached out to legal aid.
Legal aid agreed to represent Rose in the custody modification case, and also helped her apply for a stalking order to protect her from Jon. Because Jon was trying to abuse the discovery process to get information about Rose’s location, legal aid also assisted with a protective order to prevent Jon from obtaining discovery.
It took two years for Rose to get a hearing due to efforts by Jon and his attorney to delay it as long as possible... Finally, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Rose was able to have her day in court. The court instituted extra precautions so that the court staff, parties, and witnesses could safely participate in the hearing—the majority of witnesses appeared by phone; witnesses testifying in person did so via video from a separate courtroom; and Jon appeared by phone from prison.
At the conclusion of the two-day hearing, the judge awarded Rose sole custody of Emma, with no parenting time for Jon and no visitation for Emma’s grandfather. Rose was also granted a permanent stalking protective order against Jon. With the help of legal aid, Rose, AJ, and Emma are now safe, healthy, and thriving in their new community.
Despite the restraining order, Miguel kept trying to communicate with Lucia. Legal aid continued their representation of Lucia, helping her to renew her restraining order and obtain permanent custody of her son. It wasn’t easy for Lucia to leave her abusive husband amidst her concerns of retaliation by him and her fear of being targeted due to her immigration status, but she did. Thanks to legal aid, Lucia now has peace of mind, knowing that she and her son are finally safe.