Lawyers' Committee for Better Housing

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Prejudged: The Stigma of Eviction Records

A new report by Housing Action Illinois and the Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing (LCBH) explores how an eviction filing on the public record is a serious obstacle to finding housing for people whose cases did not result in them actually getting evicted. This is true even in cases where the tenant didn’t violate their lease in any way. Prejudged: The Stigma of Eviction Records shows that 39% of eviction cases filed in Cook County during the past four years did not result in an eviction order and/or other judgment against the tenant. The report recommends enacting state legislation that would hold eviction case records from public view until cases are completed to protect these individuals from unfair barriers to renting a home in the future.

"This is an issue that affects about 15,000 people in Cook County each year," estimates Mark Swartz, Executive Director of Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing. "There is no judgment against them, but there is a filing on their record. When they go to rent, prospective landlords too often reject them based on screening reports that don’t reflect the outcome of a case."

I Wouldn't Wish It On My Worst Enemies

In 30-plus years in the Logan Square area, Margie had only lived in four different apartments. When a new owner bought her building, she was going on her seventh year in the apartment she shared with her son. It was cramped to share a one-bedroom with him, and she wished they had a shower instead of a bathtub, but it was affordable. They both work hourly wage jobs—he’s been Employee of the Month time and again at a large retailer, and she loves the job at a restaurant where she has worked for more than a decade.

The property management company that took over Margie’s building informed her that their rent would spike from $700 to $1000 in just three months. When Margie told them there was no way she could afford the increase, they agreed that she could pay $800 per month for the next year. In return, they would leave her apartment "as-is" and not include it in the renovations they were undertaking in the rest of the building—which is located in a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood.

Repealing the Rent Control Preemption Act

On Monday, February 6th, State Representative Will Guzzardi introduced H.B. 2430, which seeks to repeal S.B. 531, known as the Rent Control Preemption Act. Real estate lobbyists drove the passage of S.B. 531 in 1997 with the intent of preventing any thought of rent control in the state, despite the fact that no city had any form of rent control or rent stabilization in place.

The basis of the bill to repeal S.B. 531 is that the Illinois Constitution allows for "municipal home rule," where cities can make decisions for themselves unless a state law explicitly prohibits them from doing so. Thus, repealing S.B. 531 is foremost about honoring local decision-making.

It is important to note that repealing S.B. 531 would not institute any form of rent control or stabilization in any region of Illinois on any level. Repealing S.B. 531 would simply eliminate the preemption of rent control in order to prioritize local decision-making. This is a critical distinction.

Renter StoriesMore Stories

I Wouldn't Wish It On My Worst Enemies

Margie

In 30-plus years in the Logan Square area, Margie had only lived in four different apartments.

Ms. Thomas

Ms. Thomas

Imagine you’re sprawled out on your couch after getting home from work, taking a moment to unwind from the day, thinking about what you might make for dinner.

Rachel’s Paycheck-to-Paycheck Reality

Rachel

We may not realize it, but many people are “one paycheck away from being homeless.” Unfortunately this is the reality for many of those we see at LCBH.

In the Case of Occupants Known

Amanda and George

Amanda and George Fullerton have lived in Chicago all their lives.

Shannon

Shannon

During her annual checkup, Shannon’s doctor asked whether she was experiencing any stress.

John Sees His Doctor

John

John is a young disabled man who has had asthma all of his life. John is unable to work and he lives on very limited resources and income from Social Security.