Only a few weeks before staff attorney Michelle Salomon met her, the client was living in a home with her family and working full-time. “But when a fire burned down their home, it left the family with nothing but each other,” Michelle said. “Being homeless meant they had to be at the homeless shelter by a certain time each day to secure a bed each night. It was too difficult to continue working, so she took a leave from her job. She had no income and applied for Temporary Cash Assistance.”
A month after the client applied, she received a letter denying her application. But the letter didn’t explain why she had been denied. When Michelle reviewed her file, she learned that the client was denied benefits because the Department of Social Services needed proof that she had stopped working. DSS wanted her to get this proof—but she needed help from DSS to obtain it.
“She didn’t have a phone, a fax machine, or money to even take a bus to make the request in person,” Michelle explained. “I represented her on appeal. While we waited for a hearing date, I called her previous employer. Within an hour of my call, I received the proof we needed by fax. The case settled and her application was approved with back benefits to her application date.”
The client and her family moved out of the shelter and into a home they can afford. “She is enrolled in college and was just offered a job as a research assistant with her professor,” Michelle said. “She wants to pursue a career as a paralegal.”