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.