Due to the move to Zoom court proceedings during the pandemic, lack of internet access or internet-connected devices has prevented access to justice for countless low-income people across the Commonwealth. Many people are unable to log into court hearings, struggle to present evidence to support their case, or are unable to participate at all in the legal process.
Rosa, a single mother of three, worked as a Patient Care Assistant on a COVID unit. Early in the pandemic, Rosa was furloughed and began to fall behind on her rent. When she returned to work, Rosa, who was then pregnant with her third child, developed pregnancy complications and was forced to take an early, unpaid maternity leave.
Rosa gave birth to her third child in September 2020 and resumed work shortly after. Rosa tried to keep up with her rent payments as best as she could, and made partial payments anytime she received extra income.
When Robert first contacted South Coastal Counties Legal Services (SCCLS), he was facing an eviction for nonpayment of rent. In November, his wife had died. Between the two of them, they were only just able to make ends meet. Without her financial contribution, there was no way for Robert to afford the rent.
In November 2019, Julia lost an eviction trial for non-payment of rent and her landlord was given a court order to evict her. The court’s order is called an execution – a frightening term for tenants. The landlord, however, never used the execution and Julia and her elderly mother remained in their home. It was an uneasy peace, but it kept them housed and allowed them to stay safe when the COVID pandemic hit.
At the start of the COVID pandemic, Allan had no place to go. He had received an eviction Notice to Quit after missing two months of rent and left to avoid court action. Allan had lived with his mother, Sarah, in her apartment a few years ago, so Sarah decided that he should move back in.
Shortly after Allan returned, Sarah’s landlord sent her an eviction Notice to Quit for having someone live with her without permission from the housing complex.