Since the Keep Chicago Renting Ordinance (KCRO) went into effect in fall of 2013, LCBH has worked to ensure that the ordinance’s protections for renters in foreclosed properties are carried out effectively. With the goal of keeping foreclosed properties occupied, new owners (primarily lending institutions) must offer qualified renters either the option to stay in their home or a relocation fee of $10,600 to help families start over after being forced out.
In a city whose neighborhoods are facing gentrification, and whose working-class and poor neighbors face displacement, having the right to stay in one’s home is no small thing. It’s the difference between having children finish out school years in the schools they’ve been attending or having their education and social lives uprooted. It’s the difference between moving from a neighborhood right off the “el” to one with limited public transportation options. It’s the difference between staying in an affordable place or shelling out more and more rent every month just to stay in the neighborhoods many have called home for years.
But of course, if renters don’t know they have these rights, the KCRO can’t accomplish much. That’s why LCBH operates an alerts system cataloguing Chicago foreclosure filings and sales. The system provides data to housing organizers at our incredible community partner organizations so they can find out about foreclosed properties in their communities where vulnerable tenants live. The organizers door-knock the properties, inform the tenants of their rights, and refer them to LCBH for foreclosure counseling and (potentially) representation.
LCBH has been managing and updating various iterations of this alerts system since 2008. The latest improvements were made after surveying the community partners who receive the data. Our partners concluded that the data should allow them the greatest timeline within which they can work alongside residents in the foreclosure process, thus enabling them to inform renters of their rights at each stage. The data currently includes
(1) properties that have had a foreclosure filed against the owner,
(2) properties that are scheduled to be sold at auction, and
(3) properties that have had their sale confirmed (the time when KCRO protections kick in).
LCBH cannot do the legal work we do without the help of the community organizers who assist us in engaging the Chicago community and fighting on the ground for affordable, safe, and healthy places to live for everybody. These organizations include Communities United, whose ROOTS (Renters Organizing Ourselves to Stay) program makes extensive use of the information, and Centro Autónomo de Albany Park and Somos Logan Square, both of which use the system as one dataset in a comprehensive, data-driven approach to combating gentrification.
Interested in joining the fight against displacement and having your organization utilize the system? We’d love to hear from you. Send an email expressing your interest to Frank at firstname.lastname@example.org. LCBH would also like you to hear from any renters in your community who did not receive either a lease renewal or relocation assistance after their home went through foreclosure. Refer these renters to LCBH’s foreclosure helpline at (312) 784-3507.