Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing (LCBH) helps preserve the vitality and affordability of Chicago’s neighborhoods. The attorneys and staff at LCBH work with community partners to ensure those affected by unfair evictions, deplorable living conditions or foreclosure have viable and affordable housing options currently and in the future. The LCBH Supportive Services team is available for the most vulnerable LCBH clients and their families to avoid homelessness and achieve stable housing. This includes assessment of needs, assistance in locating alternative affordable housing, applying for emergency funding, screening for public benefits, and providing links to essential services. The multi-disciplinary and holistic approach that LCBH provides has proven an effective way to assist clients moving towards a goal of attaining more stable housing beyond the immediate crisis of eviction.
Betty came to LCBH for assistance last Spring. Betty had five children still living with her at the time. She had minimal income from a part-time job and child support payments. Betty and her children were facing eviction following the foreclosure of the home she was renting. Betty had lived in this home for years and though she was renting, took great pride in her dwelling, and spent a lot of time and energy keeping it updated. She took it upon herself to mow the lawn, trim the bushes, paint, and complete any minor repairs. When she found out the owner of the property had lost it to foreclosure, she was heartbroken. Betty feared she was going to lose the only stability she and her children had. Although the new owner could have offered Betty the opportunity to finish out her lease, he handed her an eviction notice. With the pending eviction, Betty was facing not only an eviction on her credit report but also an impending move and all of the associated costs.
Betty worked with a lawyer at LCBH on her legal matter and was referred to the Supportive Services team for assistance in finding alternative housing. Betty immediately took to the streets and began looking for an apartment. Unfortunately, Betty also has a pretty low credit score due to a number of loans taken out to support her family. The Supportive Services team brainstormed ways to overcome this barrier and Betty’s daughter volunteered to co-sign a lease. The team worked with Betty and her daughter to print out and examine their credit scores, and worked out a preliminary plan to help Betty raise her credit score after she found stable housing. Meanwhile, Betty was encouraged to ask potential landlords to allow her to give them a print out of her credit score so that they didn’t have to continue running it.
The Supportive Services team provided Betty several housing listings that fit her budget but unfortunately, Betty was turned down because of her poor credit score and/or the eviction filing. Along the way, LCBH helped her to advocate for herself and reminded her of her rights as a renter. Eventually, Betty was able to obtain housing for her and her children. An LCBH attorney reviewed her new lease and informed her of a few of his concerns. With new-found confidence, Betty advocated for herself with the new landlord to have her lease altered. Betty and her children are now safe and living in stable housing.