With Friends Like These

She Was Carjacked, Disabled and Homeless

Erin, seriously disabled and in her 20’s was homeless and living in a car she had recently purchased but had not yet titled in her name because she lacked funds to do so. She had the title certificate with the prior owner’s signature on it but nothing more.

A man, whom she did not know, carjacked her car injuring her in the process of forcing her out of the car. She immediately notified the police and went to a hospital emergency room to be treated for her injuries. The car was subsequently located by police, and the man was arrested. The car was impounded and towed to the tow company’s storage lot accumulating daily storage fees once there. Since Erin was not the registered owner, the lot owner would not talk to her about releasing the car or to anyone else who was not the car’s owner of record with DMV. It was at this point that Erin contacted us for assistance. We were able to verify with the police all that she had told us including the fact of her ER treatment.

And Then It Got Worse!

Telling us that she lacked a valid driver’s license, Erin advised us that she could not get the car titled in her name because of that per DMV. At our suggestion, she then got a woman who she thought was a friend to agree to take title temporarily, and we were able to get the local United Way to assist with the cost of transferring title. (We do not provide cash assistance to clients. Our budget just sustains our work.) We also emphatically told Erin she had to get a driver’s license, and she signed a statement for us, as a condition to the continuation of our work on her matter, agreeing to do so.

Once title was transferred, we were able to speak to the tow lot owner with authorization from the “friend” –now the owner of record with DMV. The tow lot owner agreed to reduce the towing and storage fees significantly and hold them at that level until Erin could pay using most of her monthly disability benefit when it arrived to do so. Erin’s “friend” took the required amount of money to the lot owner and got the car out of storage.

Her Car Was Taken AGAIN, This Time By a “Friend”

Then the “friend” drove off with the car. We persuaded the police to get involved although they initially had declined telling us it was a civil matter. The police located the “friend” and persuaded her to give the car and title papers back to Erin.

We had to move the car for Erin, but the police would not allow it to be driven because of the unsafe condition of two of its tires. We then persuaded a local tire shop to donate two used tires for Erin’s car and install them on the car at the spot where the car was located. After that, we moved the car to a safe location away from the “friend’s” residence.

We then contacted a manager at Oregon DMV in Salem about getting title transferred to Erin. It turned out that she had been given misinformation about not being able to title a vehicle in her name when lacking a driver’s license. Because of that, the DMV manager agreed to change title directly from the prior owner’s name to Erin at no additional charge. He could see the transfer to the “friend” in their system and agreed to bypass it.

No Longer Homeless and Has Her Car

In the end, Erin wound up getting her car back again but now holding proper title to the car, which had been and was again her home. While we did expend a significant amount of time on Erin’s matter, because of our involvement she is not living on the street. That was very important to her survival given the nature of her disability.

The vast majority of clients who came to us for help over the past year were, like Erin, desperate with nowhere else to turn. We did not let any of these clients down—using our very best efforts to help every client immediately. While Erin’s matter was extreme in terms of what was required to achieve what she needed done, it does reflect the extent of our dedication and effort towards helping clients achieve their needed outcomes.

With your support, we can continue to make a difference for people in crisis.