The mission of Mental Health Advocacy Services (MHAS) is to protect and advance the legal rights of children and adults with mental disabilities, in order to maximize autonomy, promote equality, and secure the resources needed to thrive in the community. Each year, MHAS provides free legal advice and representation to more than 3,000 low-income people, like Jaime, whose story is highlighted below.
HOUSING SUCCESS FOR JAIME
Jaime had been living in the same apartment for years and had always delivered his rent payment at the on-site management office. Jaime has a mental health disability and metastasized cancer. Last year, Jaime’s landlord introduced a new policy requiring tenants to pay through an online system or in cash at an off-site location several miles away.
While the new policy wasn’t an issue for most tenants, Jaime’s mental health disability prevented him from using the online system and his debilitating physical illness prevented him from travelling to the off-site location.
REQUESTING A REASONABLE ACCOMMODATION
Fearing eviction due to his inability to pay rent on time, Jaime contacted MHAS for assistance. MHAS made a reasonable accommodation request under fair housing laws to the landlord asking that Jaime be allowed to continue paying his rent on-site. The request was granted.
ENSURING HOUSING STABILITY
By advocating that Jaime pay his rent in a manner that accommodated his mental and physical disabilities, MHAS ensured that Jaime had an equal opportunity to continue using and enjoying his housing—just like any other tenant.
For Jaime, maintaining his housing also reduced his stress and helped him better focus on his mental and physical health treatments.
HOMELESSNESS & MENTAL HEALTH
According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, people experiencing chronic homelessness often have complex and long-term health conditions. This can include mental illness, substance use disorders, physical disabilities, or other medical conditions.
Regardless of what initially caused people to experience homelessness, getting back into housing can be extremely difficult and people often face long or repeated episodes of homelessness.