Lawyers' Committee for Better Housing

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LCBH Executive Director Mark Swartz

I hope you, your family, and your colleagues are safe and healthy. As we stand in support of the Black Lives Matters movement, we do so in recognition that the majority of LCBH’s clients are Black and that the structural racism and racial disparities in our health, criminal law, and other systems are equally evident in our eviction system. As such we will continue to prioritize LCBH’s advocacy in Chicago’s hardest-hit Black communities.

As we have for 40 years, LCBH pledges to partner with you to reform eviction court and leverage technology to better serve renters facing serious housing issues. In this newsletter, I invite you to learn more about Renny and how you can help prevent COVID-19 related evictions.

Renny is Here to Help

Rentervention - Housing Problems Solved

In 2019, LCBH, with support from the Lawyers Trust Fund, launched Rentervention.com, a free tool for Chicago renters who have questions about their rights when it comes to eviction, security deposits, and repairs needed in their homes.

Tenants who use Rentervention.com can now find answers to questions about their housing amid the current health crisis. This expansion is already proving to be a valuable resource. In March, there were 804 visitors to Rentervention.com, followed by 2,898 in April and nearly 3,750 in May.

Renny is programmed to address users' concerns and provide them with the appropriate resources. For example, Renny provides sample letters for tenants to edit and send to their landlords about issues such as difficulty paying rent or needing repairs done.

Moreover, Renny informs renters what their landlords can and cannot do and connects them to free lawyers who can review the user’s conversation with Renny to provide legal help.

During this crisis, the common types of questions that Renny receives are about not being able to pay rent and COVID-19 specific issues. As the laws and guidelines change, Renny is provided with the most current legislation to inform tenants about their rights during this unprecedented time.

Laurel Chen

Laurel Chen was an intern in LCBH's supportive services department during the 2018-2019 academic year. LCBH is grateful to have Laurel's voice and advocacy. If you are a former pro bono attorney, supportive services intern, or legal fellow, we encourage you to Share Your Story.

How did you get involved with LCBH?
I was an intern at LCBH during my 2nd year at the University of Chicago School of Service Administration (SSA). Before applying to SSA, I worked for the Vermont Coalition to End Homelessness, where I focused on a range of homelessness prevention strategies.

Why did you want to intern at LCBH?
I was interested in learning more about on the ground housing issues. I found LCBH in SSA's field placement catalog and I liked its holistic approach to housing issues by combining social work and legal-aid. So, I reached out to Jude Gonzales, LCBH's Supportive Services Director, about a position.

What was it like to be an intern at LCBH? What work did you do?
I worked with clients who were receiving legal services. I assisted them in finding a new housing situation. I would check in with clients by phone or person. A lot of this involved reaching out to landlords, going through affordable housing listings and supporting clients to find a good match for them. I did this in partnership with the attorneys on the case.

Renter StoriesMore Stories

Without my LCBH Attorney, I Would Have Been Homeless

Michael

Our client, "Michael," worked hard throughout his career to save for retirement.

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.

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.