Isabelle’s Legal Aid Story

Legal aid helps woman with visual disability obtain unemployment and rental assistance

Isabelle lost her job at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Because she is legally blind, she faced difficulty navigating applications for government assistance, and her unemployment insurance took more than nine months to be paid.

Like most Americans, Isabelle did not have enough savings to last more than a few months. “I found myself going through my entire life savings to pay for basic living expenses,” she said.

While Isabelle was waiting to hear about her unemployment and rental assistance, her landlord began an eviction process—even though there was an eviction moratorium due to the pandemic. She had lived in her apartment for nearly a decade and had dutifully paid her rent on time each month before she lost her job.

Isabelle reached out to Greater Boston Legal Services, where housing attorney Kristen Hardwick took on her case.

“I didn’t know where to go or who to turn to,” Isabelle said. “Thanks to Kristen’s swift and tireless intervention, my tenancy was saved and the court hearing for the eviction was canceled.” Hardwick also worked on Isabelle’s behalf to obtain and renew her rental assistance.

In addition, Hardwick referred Isabelle to GBLS attorney Hannah Tanabe, who helped her receive unemployment assistance. The process took nearly a year. Isabelle believes GBLS’ efforts to help her and other people with disabilities are “beyond invaluable—not just to the clients and their families but to the overall community.”

Isabelle shared her story at the GBLS Lobby Day in February 2022.