Mark's Musings – September 2021 Edition

LCBH Executive Director Mark Swartz

It is a beautiful fall day. My kids have returned to school and the tree leaves in my neighborhood will soon turn from green to bright, vibrant colors. This process of change and renewal is a fitting description for LCBH’s work this year.

For the past 18 months, we’ve adapted to working during the pandemic and responded to frequent changes to the Illinois eviction moratorium. This month’s "LCBH Scoop" includes an update on what will happen the Illinois eviction moratorium ends. It's also an invitation to join us November 18th at Revolution Brewing for our annual fall benefit, "Bringing Justice Home."

I am sad to report that the Illinois eviction moratorium is expiring, so this will be my last update on it. While the Governor's eviction moratorium order was already partially lifted to allow for new eviction filings starting August 1st, the moratorium continues to protect renters by prohibiting the sheriff from actually evicting renters, but these protections will end on October 3rd.

With the moratorium set to expire, LCBH and our partners at Loyola CURL predict a backlog of 35,500 eviction cases for Chicago alone, and this is at the low end of the predictions I have seen. LCBH attorneys working in Cook County's Early Resolution Program (ERP) are bracing themselves for this influx of eviction cases.

The extensions to the eviction moratorium that Governor Pritzker so courageously issued, month after month, gave the multitude of rental assistance programs time to get money out the door. Illinois is way ahead of the game in getting rental assistance to those in need, but it’s a massive undertaking, and so much more still needs to be done.

As court reopens, there are still opportunities for litigants to apply for rental assistance. LCBH case managers continue to screen renters referred by the ERP through our Court-based Emergency Rental Assistance (CERA) program. And starting in October, a massive Court Based Rental Assistance Program (CBRAP) will be launched by the court and state and local governments to provide rental assistance and expedited processing to both landlords and tenants in Cook County’s eviction courts.

I am also concerned about a new wave of evictions if we see an uptick in foreclosures on multi-unit apartment buildings. In my last update to you, I announced that the Keep Chicago Renting Ordinance that protected renters living in buildings being foreclosed upon had been struck down because an appellate court held it violated the Illinois Rent Control Preemption Act.

Well, I am pleased to report that due to quick action by LCBH, community partners, and progressive aldermen to protect tenants, the KCRO was amended and is stronger than ever. See Robert D.’s client story detailing why the KCRO is more important than ever to protecting tenants who might otherwise be displaced during the pandemic.

I hope to see some of you at the return of the LCBH "Bringing Justice Home" awards event. No pressure, but if you feel comfortable with an in-person event it will be held on November 18th at Revolution Brewery. There will be appetizers and two free-drink tickets. Sample your favorite Revolution brews and celebrate the volunteers and partners who powered LCBH's work this year.

Also, please check out the event page and nominate someone to receive the Barbara Grau Outstanding Housing Advocate Award and the Sharon L. King Distinguished Alumni Award. Nominations close on October 12th.

Tip of the hat to Caitlin Ewing (also profiled in this newsletter) for her service to the YPB and as an LCBH staff member. As YPB chair, Caitlin made previous LCBH's events fun and successful. During her time at LCBH as pro bono coordinator, Caitlin was instrumental in connecting volunteer attorneys to LCBH's attorney of the day the program. That program lives on today with volunteers connecting to LCBH through Rentervention’s virtual clinic. Thank you Caitlin for all you did for LCBH as a volunteer and staff member!!!