When Personal Experience Empowers You
Newsrooms and local health departments are routinely bombarded with complaints about poor housing conditions and terrible landlords. Many court rooms are filled with tenant/landlord disputes and sometimes the tenants win their case against a neglectful landlord. These tenants, of course, have some evidence to back up their claims. Unfortunately, this was not the case for our fellow city resident Lucero.
A few years ago, at just 2 years old, Lucero’s daughter was dealing with respiratory issues and severe skin rashes. In addition to these issues, high levels of lead were found in her blood. Lucero was informed that these issues were more than likely a result of the housing conditions in her home. Lucero’s apartment in New Brunswick had many leaking water problems such as the drainage pipes, the roof, and some of the windows. These leaks had caused the floors to warp and caused mold to grow throughout the apartment. Lucero requested that the landlord make the necessary repairs to address these issues, especially considering the effect it was having on the health of her child.
The landlord refused to take any action to improve the conditions in the apartment. Instead, he accused her of simply trying to useher child’s condition to “make some money.” He gave her a take-it-or-leave-it ultimatum. Lucero, like many residents, was not aware of her rights or where to turn to for help. Knowing this, the landlord gave her a letter of eviction a few weeks later for non-payment of rent. Lucero, however, had always paid her rent, usually with cash. She and the landlord had used the honor system and she never obtained receipts. This left Lucero without any proof and therefore, her family was forced to leave the apartment.
On a positive note, Lucero and her family were able to find a new place to rent. Lucero’s experience left a profound impact on her. She doesn’t want any other family to have to face this type of scenario, which is why becoming a Community Health Ambassador (CHA) empowered her to do more for others in her community. For NBT, CHAs demonstrate a genuine commitment to driving our initiatives forward. They are true champions of the work we do to improve the lives of those who live in the city. CHAs earn the community’s trust and it is through them that we are able to reach more homes when it comes to advocacy work, community service, health, education and assessments for healthy homes. We are proud of Lucero and her efforts on behalf of her family and her neighbors. We are grateful that she is part of the NBT team.