Blog: Single Room Occupancy (SRO)

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.

2015 Legal Interns

This summer, five legal interns spent their summer working with Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing (LCBH), advocating for the rights of renters. Without these students, and recent graduates, who come to spend their summer with us, LCBH would have a tough time offering the legal services our clients need to resolve their housing issues. We asked each intern to share highlights from their LCBH experiences this summer:

Chloe Noonan came from Boston University School of Law to work with LCBH’s affordable housing preservation efforts. As part of her internship, Chloe regularly travels to buildings throughout Chicago to work with tenant unions. One of her favorite collaborations has been with a group of tenants on the south side living in a building that had fallen into disrepair. Chloe worked with the group to help them identify their common goals and used her knowledge of housing law to empower them to push for better management in the building.

We Love Pro Bono

In 2014, 55 attorneys donated more than 3700 hours to the Pro Bono Program at Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing (LCBH) helping families in crisis. In the process, these attorneys developed their litigation skills, learned a new area of law, created new professional relationships and most importantly MADE A DIFFERENCE in the lives of many Chicago renters! Here are some highlights from the LCBH Pro Bono Program from just the 1st quarter of 2015:

From left: D'Angelo Boyland, Adelaide Meyers, Mary Tarullo, Mark Swartz, LCBH Legal Director, and Cheryl Lawrence, LCBH Executive Director.

ONE Northside
We honor ONE Northside with the Barbara Grau Housing Advocate award for its tremendous contributions in the area of affordable and accessible housing.

SRO Preservation Ordinance Introduced

This past summer LCBH joined the Chicago For All Coalition, which was formed by ONE Northside, the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, and the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, to address the loss of Single Room Occupancy (SROs) hotels in Chicago. The coalition has been working with the City of Chicago to create a long-term solution that would help stabilize tenancies and preserve this affordable housing resource.

#Chicago4All

The Chicago For All Coalition was convened by ONE Northside, and includes LCBH and many other tenant advocate and social service organizations. The purpose of the coalition is to address the rapid depletion of Single Room Occupancy (SROs) hotels in Chicago. SROs provide short and long-term affordable housing options for some of the city’s most vulnerable, very low-income residents, like the recently homeless, veterans, and persons with disabilities. SROs are often located in desirable areas of the city—walkable neighborhoods, close to public transportation and with abundant social service agencies. In the past several years, many SROs have been sold to investors who rehab the buildings and raise rents far beyond what former residents could afford. Chicago stands to lose this crucial affordable housing resource.

As LCBH notes in its 2013 Foreclosure Report, “One scenario that has played out frequently over the past few years is the purchase of low-income buildings and single room occupancy buildings or hotels (SROs) by investors hoping to cash in on the growth in the rental market. Investors buy buildings, rehab units, and increase rent, virtually ensuring that former residents cannot return. Recent examples of this phenomenon include the purchase of the Lawrence House, Astor House, Abbott Hotel, and Chateau Hotel, all high-rise buildings in Rogers Park, Lakeview, and Uptown.”