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Hannah Adams

2015, Equal Justice Works Fellowships, Hannah Adams

Hannah Adams

Name of Host Organization: Southeast Louisiana Legal Services
City, State: New Orleans, Louisiana
Issue area: Health Care/Medical-Legal Partnership, Housing/Homelessness
Sponsors: Norflet Progress Fund

The Project

Hannah will advocate for better health outcomes for low-income New Orleans families suffering from poor housing conditions through a medical-legal partnership involving representation, advocacy, and education.

The Inspiration

Need Addressed By Project
Nearly a decade after Hurricane Katrina, tenants in New Orleans still suffer from serious health problems as a result of damage to their homes and substandard reconstruction. Eighty percent of New Orleans’ affordable housing stock was destroyed or damaged in the 2005 storms. Today, compared to the national average, rental units in New Orleans are more likely to have health-threatening maintenance issues ranging from rodents to exposed wiring to inadequate roofing and siding. A recent report shows that 78% of rental units in New Orleans needed major repairs in the last year. These conditions can lead to serious medical problems. On a daily basis, Southeast Louisiana Legal Services (SLLS) conducts intake with individuals living in poor housing conditions due to their housing providers’ refusal to make repairs. However, SLLS currently lacks staff capacity to bring affirmative habitability claims or prepare habitability-related defenses for most clients. This project will address these tenants’ unmet legal and medical needs.
The Right Person For This Project
Hannah is the right person for the project because:
• She has been a resident of New Orleans, working on post-Katrina housing justice issues and supporting advocacy for racial and economic justice on the Gulf Coast since 2007
• She is experienced in providing “Know Your Rights” education from five years of conducting trainings for tenants, landlords, and service providers at a fair housing organization in New Orleans
• Hannah has interned at SLLS where she worked with tenants to fight evictions and subsidy terminations, request reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities, and address maintenance issues
Plans For First Six Months of Fellowship
In the first six months, Hannah will:
• Establish an on-site legal services clinic at a local health center and work with medical providers to identify patients whose health conditions may relate to substandard housing
• Represent tenants in negotiations with landlords over maintenance issues, affirmative litigation to address substandard housing conditions, and evictions where there is a habitability-related defense
• Develop curricula and conduct trainings on Louisiana tenant protections for health care providers, tenants, housing providers, and pro bono attorneys