Tustin-based nonprofit Veterans Legal Institute helps vets overcome legal challenges

TUSTIN, Calif. (KABC) — U.S. Army veteran Victor Lewis was going nowhere with his landlord after reporting a cockroach infestation in his apartment.

Lewis, who served as an infantry supply clerk at Fort Campbell, Kentucky from 1983 to 1984, had had enough with his owner. He turned to a non-profit law firm, Veterans Legal Institutewho stepped in to represent Lewis for free after his apartment complex failed to resolve the matter quickly enough.

As a result, VLI asked the apartment complex to move Lewis to a new, cockroach-free two-bedroom apartment at the same price he was paying for his one-bedroom unit.

“I salute Nicki and VLI for helping me through this situation,” Lewis said. “You’ll never know how much of a help it is when you can come home and feel comfortable in your home.”

VLI provided Lewis with two months free rent, the resort waived their moving costs and hired a new exterminator for the entire resort. VLI’s impact was felt not just by Lewis, but by everyone who lived in his compound.

“It’s really exciting when we can hold landlords to their obligations and make sure our veterans live in livable, safe units and safe housing environments,” said VLI attorney Nicole Minevich. “It’s really exciting when we can make their lives better in this way. It makes my day every day that we can do that.”

Lewis considers himself lucky because many veterans do not have access to the free legal services provided by VLI.

“I think it’s really important to have organizations like VLI for veterans, but really any non-profit legal service organizations where we can hold these actors accountable where they usually wouldn’t be,” Minevich said.

After VLI’s help, Victor says he finally feels comfortable in his new place.

“VLI is an ally of the armed forces,” Lewis said. “Any veteran languishing in his situation, I would recommend calling VLI.”

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