The Faces Behind Our Numbers
In 2022, NLSLA helped close to 160,000 people across Los Angeles County get the benefits they need and deserve, fight for their home and avoid homelessness, access critical healthcare, find their footing after domestic violence, clear their records and find employment, and fight the discrimination keeping their children from getting the education they deserve. Who are these individuals and families? Here are a few of their stories:
Richard* is the sole earner supporting a family of six. More than a decade ago, his newborn son spent a week in the NICU for observation. Richard believed his insurance had covered the costs, but in 2014, after years of hearing nothing, he and his wife were sued by the hospital for $19,200. The insurance had paid for the delivery, but not for the NICU. Richard tried—and failed—to resolve the issue. He ended up with a default judgment for $19,200 plus attorney’s fees, costs, and interest. Over the years, the family paid close to $19,000, but most of it applied towards the interest. In 2022, they still owed more than $28,000, with a staggering 10% interest rate. NLSLA arranged a debt settlement of less than $4,000 and obtained a grant for Richard to cover most of that cost. Richard is debt free, and able to focus on his four children’s futures.
Isabel* came to NLSLA while she was in a domestic violence shelter with her three children, ages 9, 7 and 2, and pregnant with her fourth. She had just escaped an abusive relationship. Her two older children were undocumented, and were in removal proceedings. NLSLA helped her apply for a U Visa—a special status reserved for the immigrant victims of violent crimes—and halted the removal proceedings. Isabel is no longer living in fear of her family being separated, and has gained access to public benefits for herself and her older children.
Teresa* is an 87-year-old monolingual Korean speaker who lives by herself with the support of her son. She came to NLSLA for help after the Social Security Administration asked her to pay back more than $14,000 in SSI benefits she had received between 2020 to 2022. The agency determined she had more than $2000 in her possession, putting her over the SSI resource limit. Teresa, who is extremely low-income, went over the limit because of the pandemic stimulus checks she received from the government—payments that were supposed to be excluded from counting against SSI recipients. NLSLA ensured her benefits were reinstated and her overpayment was waived.
Todd* came to NLSLA for assistance clearing his record after being released from state prison during the height of the COVID pandemic. Todd had served as a firefighter while incarcerated, courageously fighting wildfires up and down the state of California and almost losing a leg in the process. After he was released, Todd wanted to continue serving his community. But his criminal record would make getting a job all but impossible. NLSLA helped Todd clear his record as he works to rebuild his life following incarceration.
These are just a few of the individuals and families whose lives our advocates helped to change for the better in 2022.
*Names changed to protect client confidentiality