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October Advocate of the Month

October Advocate of the Month

Financial and housing concerns are currently among the top priorities of low-income people throughout the state. During the month of October, Holly Ray, Huntsville Managing Attorney, helped ease the burdens of many across northern Alabama.

Ray represented several bankruptcy and debt-related cases in October. In some cases, she successfully worked out sensible repayment plans that her clients were able to afford. She had debts removed for some clients and even money returned to another.

When a self-employed house cleaner lost her wages to client cancellations during the pandemic, she filed for unemployment assistance to stay afloat. The claim was denied, and the client was told she was at fault for neglecting to answer a single question on the application. Ray determined that any applicant would be unable to proceed to the next page of the digital application without providing the response in question. It was also alleged that the client was sent a letter requesting that she make the required change to her application; but the client, who keeps a well-organized binder of records, never received this letter. The Department of Labor’s attorney agreed with Ray that her client had provided sufficient information to receive full unemployment benefits. The DOL attorney got the client on a conference call with a PUA technician who directly corrected her application and submitted it for approval. Two days later the client received a direct deposit of all the benefits she was due, totaling $12,352.

A grandmother in a long-term, rent-to-own agreement became responsible for the care of her grandchildren when school was out of session during the pandemic. The additional costs of their care left her unable to pay rent on her fixed SSI income. In December of 2020, her landlord filed to evict her for nonpayment. Ray successfully argued that the moratorium applied to her client and that the eviction should be held off until rental assistance became available. The client was able to receive 11 months of rental assistance, totaling $8,250. The eviction against her was dismissed upon payment.

In a similar case, Ray successfully argued that the moratorium applied to her client – granting him further time to access funds through the Emergency Rental Assistance Program. The client received $12,174 in rental assistance and his eviction was dismissed as a result.

Ray also supported a client struggling to pay her student loans. The client’s unsecured debts had spiraled out of control, including a non-student loan owed to her university that prohibited her from receiving her master’s diploma and transcripts. Her credentials were a crucial requirement to obtain her license to be a counselor. Ray assisted the client in filing for chapter 7 bankruptcy relief and communication with the Alabama A&M bursar and legal counsel. The client was relieved of $229,018 in unsecured debts, and with access to her master’s degree credentials, was able to begin the career for which she trained.

 

For all of this and so much more, Holly Ray is our October 2021 Advocate of the Month. Thank you, Holly, for all you do!

 

 

If you are facing eviction in Alabama, visit LSA’s tenant help site for information on all available options and resources: www.alhelpstenants.org

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