Justice Warmed: A little push goes a long way

One recent Friday morning, a young, single mother living with HIV placed a frantic call to our office. Her apartment’s heating system was broken, and she and her two children were cold. A day earlier, Philadelphia Gas Works had found safety violations in her furnace that needed immediate repair, so she contacted the property manager and was told a maintenance worker would be there the next morning. But the maintenance worker didn’t show up, and the property manager wouldn’t return her calls. She called her medical case manager at Congreso De Latinos Unidos, who encouraged her to contact the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania. Our housing attorney called the property manager, identifying herself as the woman’s attorney, and advising of the city’s legal obligation to provide heat of at least 68 degrees from Oct. 1 to April 30, and in September and May if the outdoor temperature is below 60. Worried that a lawsuit was coming, the property manager returned our attorney’s call promptly. Within the hour, the maintenance worker arrived.Throughout the day, our housing attorney stayed in close contact with the property manager, the client, PGW, and the worker. By nightfall, the furnace was working, and our client and her children were safe and warm in their home.Sometimes a lawyer’s gentle push is enough to heat things up.