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Mani Philip

Mani Philip has lived in his Adams Morgan cooperative since 1999. A 70-year-old immigrant from India, Mr. Philip recently asked the cooperative for assistance in moving his furniture when he reported seeing bed bugs in his unit. They agreed to help Mr. Philip get his apartment ready for extermination, yet subsequently alleged that he did not properly prepare the unit for treatment.

You, Legal Aid Society did not brush me aside
Like many other similar offices did
When I came to you begging for help, for real justice

– From a poem written by Mr. Philip about his experience

These allegations turned into threats of eviction. Mr. Philip believed the cooperative’s attempts to evict him were to finish clearing out the long-term residents whose carrying charges fell below market rents for the area.

In an attempt to rectify the situation, Mr. Philip paid thousands of dollars of his own money for multiple exterminations, sleeping on the floor rather than his bed in between exterminations. But the cooperative pushed forward and terminated his membership.

Fortunately, Mr. Philip had Maggie Donahue, a Legal Aid Housing Law Unit attorney, by his side. With Legal Aid’s help, Mr. Philip was able to settle his case with an agreement that the cooperative would pay for a high-quality bedbug inspector to conduct regular inspections of the unit (and treatments, if necessary) for four months. Not only is Mr. Philip no longer living in fear of a bed bug infestation, he was also able to restore his nearly-20-year cooperative membership.

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