What’s better than winning a case in eviction court? Not having to go to eviction court in the first place! That’s the philosophy behind the Tenant Advocacy Project (TAP) at LCBH. TAP relies exclusively on volunteers to resolve landlord-tenant disputes before they escalate, with the goal of keeping tenants in their homes and out of court.
For many months, LCBH was forced to reject many TAP cases that came in because there weren’t enough resources to handle them internally. Last fall, we began a partnership with the West Cook Pro Bono Network (WCPBN), an Oak Park-based group of attorney moms and solo practitioners looking to balance their passion for pro bono with the demanding requirements of family life. Every week, one or two WCPBN members sign up to be “on call” for LCBH and handle any TAP cases that come in that week. WCPBN volunteers are able to work from home on their own schedule and our clients are able to get great pro bono representation from a team of experienced and talented volunteer attorneys.
Since October, WCPBN volunteers have handled almost 20 TAP cases for LCBH! Here are a few highlights of their work:
- Helped a survivor of domestic violence break her lease under the Illinois Safe Homes Act allowing her to move out from the apartment she shared with her abuser
- Helped a disabled tenant request a reasonable accommodation so she could keep her support animal in the apartment with her
- Helped a family of six legally withhold part of their rent under the Chicago Residential Landlord Tenant Ordinance due to maintenance problems that management refused to address
- Helped a senior citizen negotiate a short-term lease so he would have temporary housing while he waited for approval of his subsidized senior housing application
These are only a few of the lives that our WCPBN volunteers have touched through their tenant advocacy. Without their assistance, each of these tenants could have ended up in court, risking an eviction order or a money judgment being entered against them. We’d like to thank our WCPBN tenant advocates for stepping up and filling this important gap!