In 2013, Randy Dillard found himself on the wrong side of an eviction notice.
“I was numb,” he says of the moment he discovered the notice from his landlord. “I was frightened. I was scared. I didn’t know what to do.”
A single parent of five and a bricklayer by trade, Dillard, 62, got the eviction letter not long after he returned home from a months-long stay in the hospital, where he was receiving treatment for emphysema. He was losing his Bronx apartment, he learned, because the Section 8 housing program that subsidized his rent had stopped making payments to his landlord because of the property’s dilapidated condition. Despite the fact that the apartment’s pest infestation and its leaky plumbing were a result of the owner’s own negligence, Dillard says his landlord used the subsidy cutoff as an excuse to try to toss his family into the street.
Shopping for school supplies is oftentimes an unexpectedly expensive endeavour. But for homeless children, it’s not often they have the luxury of breaking out that brand new binder or notebook on the first day of classes.
So Borough President Melinda Katz is calling on charitable residents to help put smiles on the faces of undomiciled Queens students next month, once the academic year gets underway.
In 2013, Randy Dillard was living with his four sons and a daughter in an apartment at 198th Street and Bainbridge in the Bronx. The windows were broken; mold and mildew streaked the walls. In the winter, Dillard’s family had to boil water on the stove to bathe; there was no heat or hot water. When the New York City Housing Authority conducted an inspection of the apartment on behalf of Section 8, the federal rent assistance program that financed Dillard’s rental, the unit failed the test, and Section 8 stopped paying Dillard’s landlord, demanding that he make repairs. That winter, Dillard was hospitalized for two months with a bout of emphysema; when he came out, he was served with eviction papers for nonpayment of rent.