“Housing is a fundamental human need, and it causes so much anxiety and stress for people when they don’t have stable housing. It makes a huge difference for clients when they feel like they have someone who understands them, and it means a lot to me that I can help give my clients a sense of security and a way forward.
I joined Legal Services of New Jersey (LSNJ) as a fellow in September 2012, approximately two months before Hurricane Sandy hit, causing a huge influx of clients who had been victims of insurance scams or contractor fraud, among other areas like FEMA claims and general housing or habitability issues. One of the interesting things about the aftermath of Sandy was that many of our clients were recently middle-income people who had never engaged with legal services before until their loss of income due to the storm, and they often assumed we were reading off a script in a call center somewhere. When they realized that I was a real person who understood what they were going through, you could hear the relief in their voices. People were really in shock after Sandy, and they needed someone who could talk them through their options and get them on a path to rebuilding their lives.
I currently supervise the Disaster Response Unit and the Foreclosure Defense Project at LSNJ, so I work on some of the issues at the heart of consumer law — mortgages, homeownership, and bankruptcy. We have a lot of clients who are in forbearance now because of COVID-19, and there’s a similar feeling of urgency and fear in the air that we saw with Sandy. More than one client has called us in a panic because they got served with a complaint and were worried that they were going to be evicted right away, so we explain the protections that are in place generally and under the COVID eviction moratorium, and hopefully give them some answers and reassurance.
There’s never a dull moment in this area of the law, and I find it so meaningful to come to work every day to help people save their homes.”