Eviction Prevented

February 29th, 2016

Benjamin had always paid his bills on time…until last fall. In a single month, he paid higher-than-usual water and BGE bills, and he unexpectedly did not receive his Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits – his only source of income. At the end of the month, he could not afford to pay all of his bills. He chose not pay his rent thinking he would be able to resolve the issue with his SSDI benefits in time to catch up on his rent the next month.

Instead, it took several months for the Social Security Administration to reinstate his SSDI benefits, and Benjamin fell further and further behind on his rent. Before he knew it, he owed several months’ rent and had received an eviction notice. He was overwhelmed and needed help – to pay what he owed in rent and to navigate the eviction process – but he did not know where to turn.

Fortunately, his friend Mary had been to Paul’s Place for emergency assistance and suggested he make an appointment with our case management staff. In January, Benjamin met with Sara, our Outreach Coordinator/Guest Liaison. She assessed his situation to get a comprehensive understanding of his needs, shared information about our programs and services, and referred him to Travis, our STABLE Home Case Manager, for immediate assistance with his most pressing need: eviction prevention.

Travis walked Benjamin through every step of our application for eviction prevention funding, carefully explained what he could expect from his landlord and the City of Baltimore during eviction proceedings, reached out to Benjamin’s landlord to slow the process, and helped Benjamin – a very soft-spoken man – advocate for himself. Benjamin’s landlord willingly cooperated and promised to not to evict him while he was gathering funds to pay his overdue rent.

Paul’s Place was able to cover nearly half of Benjamin’s back rent through our STABLE Home Project, an effort to reduce homelessness in Baltimore City with financial assistance to house families experiencing chronic homelessness and to prevent evictions. Travis referred Benjamin to Bon Secours Baltimore Health System for additional financial assistance, and Zina – a social work intern at Paul’s Place – accompanied him to help him fill out the paperwork. Benjamin was just approved by Bon Secours Baltimore for one-time rental assistance and is successfully paying back his debt to his landlord.

Throughout the process, Benjamin felt fully supported by Paul’s Place staff – enough to admit he is a poor reader and to ask for help after finding ways to compensate for his low literacy level for more than 40 years. He is working with case management now to enroll in literacy classes taught by instructors from South Baltimore Learning Center at Paul’s Place. And, as hard as it was for him to ask for help, Benjamin knows he can turn to Paul’s Place if other challenges arise.