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A Safety Net for Those Facing Eviction Is Itself in Peril

Thursday, January 15, 2009


Arline Bencosme heard the whispery sound of a slip of paper sliding under her apartment door just as her 14-year-old son, J. J., was walking out of the room. Before he could come back, she scooped up the eviction notice, and ran out the door, leaving J. J. with his 18-year-old brother, Martin, so she could get to the welfare office before it closed. Ms. Bencosme, a home attendant who had fallen behind on her $980 monthly rent, could not make sense of everything the piece of paper said, but this much she understood: It was a five-day notice. If she did nothing, she worried, someone would come on the sixth day and padlock the door of her family’s tidy, if cramped, one-bedroom in the Bronx. They would be homeless.

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