Welcome to LCBH’s Blog. Our blog delivers original articles written by our staff, interns and volunteers. We strive to provide informative stories about the work we do on behalf of Chicago renters and the issues renters face.
Going to court can be a very intimidating experience. Imagine finding yourself as a renter, paying your rent on time each month, and then being brought into eviction court because your building went into foreclosure! Do you have to move? When? What about your security deposit?
Many people believe that a person’s right to live in a rental property is contingent on the landlord continuing to own the property, or that when the landlord loses ownership of the building that the renters also lose their leases. In fact, this is not always the case. For renters, foreclosure does not mean “Get Out Now”!
Timely and accurate legal information can be crucial for renters. LCBH’s Tenants in Foreclosure team works to make people aware that renters may be able to stay, even if their landlord loses the property. LCBH shares this information with stakeholders throughout Illinois, hosting free renters’ rights workshops, distributing brochures, and referring renters to our helpline.
LCBH staff have been on the road throughout Illinois, providing brochures to Illinois Township Supervisors, meeting librarians and sharing resources at the Illinois Library Association annual conference, forging new partnerships, and strengthening current collaborations. Thanks to these visits, our Tenants in Foreclosure Helpline will now be included in the Peoria Landlord Tenant Handbook published by Housing Action Illinois.
Our Intake Supervisor, Sue Scholten, has been with LCBH for five years. In this article, Sue shares some perspectives on the integration of supportive services when helping renters with legal problems.
According to Sue, it all starts with the intake interview, which is not really an interview, but rather a conversation that involves listening to the multiple messages the person presents and the environment from which those messages emerge.
In the beginning, when listening to an individual’s story for the first time, we look for factual information that are legal defenses to an eviction and can inform the attorneys when deciding whether LCBH will be able to take the case or not. During this process, there are multiple messages about the “person in environment” that emerge and may be of concern to LCBH’s supportive services team. Underneath the basic facts of their potential legal case, there is the psychological and narrative messages that have evolved from long- term economic disadvantage, non-responsive institutional systems, and family and friend support systems with limited resources to assist this person.
Just as an individual’s personal experiences may create inspiring resiliency, for others there is psychological and social exhaustion that evolves from systems that create disadvantage and exclusion. It is in this undefined area of response to events that an individual may need additional assistance in the form of supportive services.
LCBH welcomes four interns to the Supportive Services team for the Spring semester of 2015. These interns gain valuable professional experience while helping LCBH clients facing housing instability or possible homelessness.
Carla Feger – Carla is a first-year student at the Jane Addams College of Social Work at the University of Illinois at Chicago. During college, she studied psychology and took some education courses to learn more about equity concerns in education. As Carla continued her learning process, she served with City Year in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and mentored seventh-grade students who taught her a lot about the world. This experience affirmed her passion to work with students to help provide them with a rewarding experience and to achieve to the fullest potential. Carla decided to pursue a Masters in School Social Work and chose to intern with LCBH’s Supportive Services department to learn more about the housing issues that families face and how those issues significantly affect students’ lives, including their success in school.
When you donate a tax-deductible gift to Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing, a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization, you become a partner helping to achieve the LCBH mission: to improve housing stability in Chicago by promoting the rights of renters to access to safe, decent, and affordable housing. Your support will provide families with legal assistance and supportive services that help prevent homelessness, improve substandard living conditions, and preserve affordable housing. This is an opportunity to invest in our very own community.
Your charitable donation to LCBH will help:
Provide fair and meaningful access to the justice system;
Deliver supportive services to help stabilize housing; and
Preserve affordable housing units and improve habitability conditions to help ensure access to decent housing.
Other ways you can support Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing:
In Kind Donations
For non-profits, securing adequate resources is always a challenge. Most funders do not provide support for administrative or office capacity. Many of these needs can be met through generous in-kind donations! In-kind donors are recognized at LCBH events, on the LCBH website, and in the LCBH Annual Report. LCBH has a wish list of goods, services, and spaces that would greatly benefit LCBH’s organizational needs and help keep vital LCBH programs running! These include:
We recently sat down with Todd Maynes, Partner at Kirkland & Ellis and President of the Board of Directors of Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing to hear his perspective on what LCBH means to him as a long-time supporter of the organization. Todd cares deeply about housing issues and spends time creating awareness among his peers about the LCBH mission and garnering support to provide critically needed legal and supportive services that can prevent homelessness and promote housing stability.
On the LCBH board since 2008, Todd has donated time and numerous resources to LCBH including securing Kirkland & Ellis as host for the annual Hearts for Housing fundraiser for seven years running as well as selling enormous amounts of tickets for the raffle at the event. As we always say at LCBH, Todd puts the heart in Hearts for Housing!
Q: How did you first get involved with Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing?
A: I was on a business trip to Hawaii and my flight home was delayed. While killing time in the airport, I overheard a group of college students playing trivial pursuit. They were stuck on an answer. After inserting myself into their game, I quickly struck up a conversation with the students. One student was an intern at a non-profit organization, which was LCBH. We had lunch back in Chicago, she recommended me to the Board of Directors and, as they say, the rest is history…that was in 2008.
Your gift to Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing is a meaningful investment in our very own Chicago community to ensure everyone has a safe, decent and affordable place to call home. You can take a stand to show support for families who are living in terrible conditions, or facing homelessness, with little or no access to the courts that are supposed to protect them.
I would like to share with you the story of Daniela, a strong, funny, and determined single mother of three sons, Alex, Gabe, and Tom. Daniela works over 45 hours a week at two part-time minimum wage jobs, making less than $18,000/year, trying to provide a good home for her family.
Daniela’s family had previously been living in a building that went into foreclosure. Even though she had been paying rent and had a lease, the family was evicted when the lender took over the building. Daniela was able find a two bedroom apartment in a modest neighborhood for $950/month, more than 60% of her gross income. It was not in her previous neighborhood where all of her family, friends, and children’s schools were located, and the apartment had problems that needed to be fixed, but it was the best she could find. Prior to signing the lease the landlord assured Daniela that all of the problems would be fixed, but when the fall’s cold snap arrived Daniela and her boys had no heat. After Daniela made numerous requests for heat, she received an eviction notice.
Volunteering as a pro bono attorney at LCBH allows you to make a huge impact in someone’s life without spending a penny. It doesn’t require a lot of time – even a little legal assistance can go a long way in improving the lives of our clients. Sound too good to be true? It’s not! Here at LCBH, we understand that and have worked to create new ways for you to support LCBH’s mission. When we all work together to level the playing field, we improve our community for everyone!
Here are just a few of the major victories our pro bono partners were able to accomplish this year:
Negotiated a cash settlement for a mother whose son suffered a concussion when the leaky roof in their apartment collapsed on him while he was sleeping;
Dismissed a case where a tenant was facing eviction because the property manager’s agent had accepted rent money and not turned it over to the company; and
Won a jury trial on behalf of a tenant who was being evicted in retaliation for making complaints about a property manager.
Pro bono also allows you to give back but in a way that works with your busy schedule. LCBH takes full advantage of the new rules on unbundled legal services to provide flexible volunteer opportunities to meet every schedule. The following outcomes were reached in 5 hours or less of volunteer time:
On October 28th, LCBH presented our 34th Annual Awards. McGuireWoods generously hosted the event and their beautiful space was the perfect setting for our celebration honoring those who have made exceptional contributions to help preserve the vitality, diversity and affordability of Chicago's neighborhoods!
We applaud and congratulate all of our awardees!
We thank Congresswoman Robin Kelly and Veeda Pryor for their thoughtful remarks, McGuireWoods and Geoff Cockrell for hosting us, our generous donors for sponsoring the event, and everyone who turned out to make the night so enjoyable. Thank you!
Robin Kelly, Illinois Congresswoman (2nd District)
Robin Kelly was elected to represent Illinois’ 2nd Congressional District on April 9, 2013. Since taking office, Kelly has worked tirelessly to promote national safety and expand economic opportunity, sponsoring numerous bills to generate job growth and end senseless gun violence. Kelly’s first legislation, Improving Gun Safety Standards Act, a common sense reform bill, would allow the Consumer Product Safety Commission to issue safety standards for guns and ammunition that will help reduce gun-related deaths. As a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Kelly currently serves on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, the Economic Growth, Job Creation, and Regulatory Affairs and the National Security Subcommittee.
Join LCBH on October 28, 2014 as we welcome keynote speaker Illinois Congresswoman Robin Kelly, as well as celebrate and honor those who have made exceptional contributions to help preserve the vitality, diversity and affordability of Chicago's neighborhoods!
LCBH’s Tenants in Foreclosure Intervention Project (TFIP) team has been working tirelessly to inform renters throughout Illinois about their rights and responsibilities when they find themselves living a foreclosed building. Renters who live in rural areas of Illinois are often unfamiliar with the court system and the foreclosure process and LCBH’s Tenants in Foreclosure Helpline may be the only legal resource available to them. LCBH is committed is to providing resources to those hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis throughout the state.
This summer LCBH expanded its travels to new areas in Will County and Western Cook County Suburbs. In June, LCBH staff attorney Aileen Flanagan met with Judges O’Leary, Thanos and Barrett of the 12th Judicial Circuit in Will County, who all agreed that LCBH’s foreclosure helpline and brochures will provide a welcomed resource for tenants in Will County who are in danger of losing their housing. Since meeting with the judges and other stakeholders in Willl County, the LCBH helpline has received an increase in calls from these communities. The resources are proving to be helpful to the residents of Will County.