When he contacted the Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York, Inc. (LASNNY), Glenn James was living in subsidized housing and at zero income. He was seeking legal help due to eviction proceedings brought forth by his landlord. James was put in touch with LASNNY through the Solutions to End Homelessness Program (STEHP) grant and staff attorney David Crossman began representing him. Crossman explains that James’s situation was particularly precarious because he lives in project-based subsidized housing and an eviction would also mean losing the subsidy.
James says that he and the property manager had a history of butting heads over some minor issues, like lost keys, and weren’t on great terms. He surmises that this tension ultimately led to eviction proceedings. James’s landlord, Windgate Management Co. filed eviction proceedings due to the following violations: alleged failure to report employment/income; alleged (and unspecified) damage; failure to reimburse the landlord for 2 sets of keys that he had lost, and for creating conditions for a bedbug infestation. A judge ultimately ruled in the landlord’s favor.
Crossman explains that at trial in December 2017, the judge in Schenectady City Court found that the landlord had not sufficiently proven any of the grounds except for the bedbug issue. However because of the infestation, the judge ruled in favor of an eviction. Crossman appealed the bedbug decision through Schenectady County Court and secured a stay on the eviction. Because of Crossman’s effort, James was able to remain in his apartment through the pending appeal.
Throughout the appeal process, Crossman argued that James did not create conditions for bed bugs, that the presence of bedbugs did not violate his lease, in part because the lease required the landlord to exterminate regardless of the reason for the infestation, as well as two other grounds. Crossman says, “We cited Mr. James’s testimony at trial that he had gotten rid of all his furniture and was sleeping on the floor. He also kept all his clothes in plastic bags because of the bedbugs and used to spray his own insecticide until the landlord asked him not to.” Due to Crossman’s diligent research and hard work, in January 2019, the Schenectady County Court ruled in James’s favor and vacated the warrant of eviction issued by the lower court.
James is grateful for the help he received from LASNNY and the STEHP grant. He says, “Without David and the appeal, I know I would have been homeless. He truly turned my life around.” James recently received his commercial driver’s license (CDL) and is now working as tractor-trailer driver. He has increased his income, an important component of the STEHP program and is still residing in his apartment.