Justice Electrified: A quick bankruptcy keeps NJ woman from losing her power

Our client, a 41-year-old disabled woman, lives in a Section 8 subsidized house with her two teenage children in rural Salem County, New Jersey. The family has lived in the house for 15 years and it is in great disrepair.

She has a history of domestic violence and is afraid to talk to the landlord, who refuses to make repairs. With broken windows and no insulation, the house is expensive to heat and her electric bills average $800 month. Her sole source of income is her monthly $700 Social Security disability check. She tries to pay at least $350 a month toward the heating, but every month her debt grows.

Recently, the electric company refused to accept her partial payments and threatened to shut off her power. She called the AIDS Law Project’s Southern New Jersey office for help. We sprang into action and filed a chapter 7 bankruptcy, which canceled her debt and prevented the shut-off.

Now without this debt hanging over her, we referred the woman to a social service agency to help her find secure and affordable housing.