Jei Jan Wu, a client of The Legal Aid Society, has a fresh start in a new apartment after suffering harassment from a nightmare landlord for more than a year.
Ms. Wu lives with disabilities, is in her sixties, and resides in Queens. Her landlord, Hu Zhong Cai, subjected her to a litany of harassment including following her around and taking her photo, neglecting building repairs, yelling at her and her home healthcare aide, refusing to wear PPE in front of her, and playing a radio at all hours. He even attempted to take our credit cards in her name.
“I still have post-traumatic stress. Right now, I am trying to learn that I can sleep without fear, but I still have the nightmares,” Ms. Wu told the New York Daily News. “I still leave the lights on when I sleep, and still have fear whenever I hear a noise in my apartment.”
Due to this egregious harassment, Ms. Wu withheld rent; Mr. Cai then attempted to evict her. Legal Aid commenced a harassment case and achieved a settlement that cleared Ms. Wu of having to pay back rent and allotted time to secure a new residence. Her attorneys also helped to secure a CityFHEPS voucher which allowed her to obtain her current apartment. Given its complexity, five different staff members worked on Ms. Wu’s case.
Ms. Wu was able to obtain assistance from Legal Aid through New York City’s Right to Counsel program, which ensures that all low-income tenants facing eviction have access to an attorney.
The program is highly effective but is facing a dire financial crisis. Providers, including Legal Aid, are calling on the City for $351 million in increased funding to ensure that no one has to face an eviction proceeding without a lawyer.
Last Updated: 1 May 2023
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