From foreclosure crisis to a place to call home, read her story.
(Listen to Cassandra tell her own story at this year’s Annual Reception & Awards Ceremony YOUTUBE)
Cassandra Walker & LCBH Supportive Services Director, John Paul Beals
When Cassandra and her family first moved into a second floor unit in the Bronzeville neighborhood, the conditions were bearable, but after her landlord went into foreclosure, the building quickly deteriorated. Cassandra was never notified, but started to suspect the foreclosure because numerous people came to the building trying to collect rent.
Cassandra initially contacted LCBH because some people came to the apartment telling her that they were the new owners and she had to leave immediately. The LCBH Tenants in Foreclosure Intervention Project provided counseling to Cassandra, advising her that while it appeared the building had been lost by the landlord in foreclosure and had been taken over by a bank, it was less clear that the individuals demanding that she leave had any interest in the building. LCBH advised the tenant to demand proof of title, and to contact the police should anyone attempt to illegally remove her. LCBH also outlined the tenant’s right under federal law to live out her lease or to at least 90 days notice before she would have to move.
Other problems occurred as drug users and gangbangers hung out on the front porch at all hours. Cassandra contacted LCBH again after the police busted down her door and the outside security door in response to drug activity on the first floor. LCBH investigated title again and determined that the building title had recently transferred to an investor, the same individual who was now attempting to force Cassandra out of the building rather than assume his responsibilities under the lease. LCBH wrote a demand letter to the new landlord to make necessary repairs as provided by Chicago law and to cease and desist pursuing his threats of eviction and attempting to collect rent without notifying the tenant of the change in management and to provide her with at least 90 days to move.
The new owner refused to make the needed repairs to the unit, filed an eviction action, and even improperly filed a Motion for Use and Occupancy demanding rent during the eviction case. LCBH attorneys moved to dismiss the entire matter in that Cassandra had not been properly notified of the change in ownership and therefore could not be evicted for failure to pay rent, and was in fact entitled to 90 days notice.
At the same time, our Supportive Services team found Cassandra and her family a new apartment. Because of LCBH’s legal intervention Cassandra was able to save money while her case was being heard in court, and she was able to move without becoming homeless. Our legal and supportive services teams spent time at the building and even brought student media from Northwestern Medill School with them who documented Cassandra’s struggles trying to deal with complicated foreclosure issues.
LCBH attorneys negotiated a settlement, including relocation assistance and a complete waiver of back rent. Cassandra and her family have moved to a new apartment that they love where everyone feels more safe and secure.