Blog Archives for April 2016

Success Story: VISTA Affordable Housing Preservation Project

April 4, 2016

This guest blog post was written by 2015 Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellow, Natalie Minev. 

Julia is elderly, disabled, and Mandarin-speaking, with very limited English proficiency.  She has lived at Van Nuys Apartments, a 299-unit project-based Section 8 building in the heart of downtown Los Angeles, for two years.  This diverse building is the home to predominantly elderly, disabled tenants who speak Korean, Chinese, and Spanish.  When Julia first moved in, she was placed in a second-floor unit that was in abysmal condition.  The apartment was located above a generator that regularly heated her apartment to over 100 degrees in the summertime, and directly outside her window was an exhaust pipe that blew toxic gas fumes into her unit all year round.  Because of the heat and toxic fumes, the walls in her apartment were blackened, her houseplants were dying, and she developed serious respiratory problems, allergies, and could not sleep.  Oftentimes, the air quality and temperature in her unit was so intolerable that she would have to sleep in the hallway with a blanket and pillow for multiple nights on end.  She attempted to complain to the property management company, writing multiple letters and reasonable accommodation requests in Chinese on a monthly basis regarding the problems.  The property management company refused to respond to her complaints and on several occasions told her that they would not accept her complaints unless they were written in English.

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