The Power of Partnership


Legal Aid practice groups and other nonprofits collaborate to save a Lorain family’s home

Sharon Mackey* of Lorain County was a single mother of four children and caring for two grandchildren when she received her foreclosure notice. She had recently lost her job and was unable to handle her bills with her only income stemming from child support payments. Ms. Mackey came to Legal Aid for help.

Legal Aid attorney Emily White handled the case, and quickly realized that the client would qualify for mortgage payment assistance, but only if her job loss was involuntary. Unfortunately when Ms. Mackey applied for unemployment compensation, her employer challenged her eligibility, arguing that the job loss was Ms. Mackey’s fault.

Ms. White decided to reach out to another Legal Aid attorney, Amanda Davis, for help appealing the denial of unemployment benefits. Ms. Davis determined that although the client was fired, the circumstances were highly suspect. “It’s so important that the attorneys at Legal Aid are able to spot issues in cases that overlap with other practice groups because it allows us to provide clients with more holistic service,” said Ms. Davis.

Ms. Davis discovered that the client had lost her job following a disagreement with a co-worker. At first, Ms. Mackey’s supervisors found that giving a written warning was sufficient, given Ms. Mackey’s long employment with the company and lack of prior discipline. However, a few days later, another supervisor side-stepped the first decision and determined that Ms. Mackey should be terminated – citing both the altercation and prior absences for which Ms. Mackey had never received warnings and always had supervisor-approval.

Ms. Davis represented Ms. Mackey in an administrative hearing and since she had proven that the written warning was sufficient based on Ms. Mackey’s lack of prior incidents and there having been “no progressive disciplinary action taken,” Ms. Mackey was approved for unemployment compensation – which meant she now could qualify for mortgage payment assistance.

Ms. White was then able to refer Ms. Mackey to The Lorain County Urban League to help her complete her application for Restoring Stability funds, which helped Ms. Mackey bring her mortgage current and provided payment assistance while Ms. Mackey sought new employment. “Our relationship with the Urban League is wonderful; I contact them daily because their housing counselors are simply the best,” said Ms. White.

Ms. Mackey was approved for the Restoring Stability program and is currently receiving the funding she needs to keep her family in their home. The foreclosure case against her has been dismissed.

Ms. White said, “Amanda’s involvement in the case was critical, because she established a factual record that allowed her to win her case and get the client the resources she needed; without Amanda, seven people would be homeless.”

* client’s name changed to protect privacy

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