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.
The Chicago Bar Foundation presented LCBH board member, Claire Battle, with the Exelon Outstanding Corporate Counsel Award at their 17th Annual Pro Bono and Public Service Awards Luncheon July 14, 2015.
While a busy and successful in-house attorney at ArcelorMittal USA, spouse and parent, Claire Battle continues to make pro bono a priority in her career. Her commitment to Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing (LCBH) dates back to her undergraduate years at Northwestern University volunteering as an intern in the late 1990s. After law school, Claire was a volunteer attorney and has been an LCBH board member for 14 years. Lending a variety of talents, Claire has been involved with various LCBH committees and made contributions in whatever capacity she is needed. Her lasting contributions include co-founding and LCBH’s Hearts for Housing fundraiser, which has grown from an informal gathering to a flagship event attended by hundreds of attorneys and sponsored by the city’s biggest firms as well as co-founding LCBH’s Young Professionals Board. In addition to all of her contributions to LCBH her work proliferates as she encourages and helps her fellow in-house counsel find meaningful pro bono work in her position as Co-chair of the Pro Bono Committee of the Chicago Chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel.
Bianca Brown recently contacted the Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing (LCBH) Tenants in Foreclosure Helpline. An LCBH attorney counseled Ms. Brown about her apartment building, which was in foreclosure and now owned by the bank. The attorney explained that under Illinois law there are rights protecting renters in foreclosed buildings, as well as a Chicago ordinance which provides additional protections to renters, the Protecting Tenants in Foreclosed Rental Property Ordinance, commonly known as the Keep Chicago Renting Ordinance (KCRO).
LCBH recently closed its help desk and opened a new resource table.
The new resource table is located on the 14th floor of the Daley Center, 50 W. Washington St., which is right outside of the eviction courtrooms. The resource table is stocked with copies of our informational Tenants in Foreclosure Brochures (both the Chicago & statewide versions) in English and Spanish.
Renters can still get one-on-one counseling via our free Tenants in Foreclosure Helpline: in Chicago (312) 784-3507, Cook County (855) 207-8347.
The former Tenants in Foreclosure Help Desk was initially launched in 2011 to provide renters and attorneys in eviction court with legal information regarding renters’ rights during foreclosure. Help desk staff spotted a lot of illegal notices and other common violations, but more importantly, they helped keep a lot of renters from being unfairly evicted from their homes.
Since then, a number of new renter protections have come to pass and a lot of people have been educated on the laws. We found that we were helping more people with basic court information rather than foreclosure related issues, and at the same time, the demand for assistance through our help lines was steadily increasing.
So to better assist renters, we felt the time had come to close the help desk and focus those resources on our help lines and helping more renters, more quickly.
A decade ago, Lydia and Anthony Garcia, an elderly couple, moved into the second floor of an owner occupied two-flat. The Garcias are both disabled; Lydia requires a wheelchair and oxygen tank and her husband Anthony is confined to a bed. Nearly ten years later, they sought the assistance of Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing (LCBH) regarding an eviction. During that time, the basement had been illegally subdivided into two additional apartments. However, the building had only two electrical meters serving all four apartments, hallways and common areas. The Garcias suspected that they were not only paying the electrical bill for their apartment, they were also paying the electric bill for the hallways and other common areas, AND both illegal basement apartments!
The staff at Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing (LCBH) work hard every day to ensure that everyone has a safe, decent, and affordable place to call home. Whether it is an attorney, volunteer, or intern they are 100% invested in our mission and our clients. As many of you may know, what makes LCBH different is our holistic approach to helping those in need, which involves providing additional supportive services to our most vulnerable clients. Here is a chance for you to meet our new Supportive Services Director, Christine Daly who joined the team just a few months ago.
Q: How would people describe you?
A: Goofy. Loyal. Organized. Motivated. Tough. Caring.
During a hot and sticky Chicago summer, Grace and Robert Merkel moved into a single-family home with their six children. Shortly after moving in, the Merkels encountered mold and mildew growing on the walls, ceiling, and carpets. There were roaches and bed bugs in the home, holes in the walls and ceilings, and leaky plumbing. During each of the three winters that the family lived in the home, there was also insufficient heat.
At first, Mr. Merkel attempted to resolve the heating issue himself. He paid to have the furnace fixed, and eventually bought space heaters for each of the bedrooms. Still, the temperature hovered in the 40’s, and the family was forced to wear their winter coats indoors. To address the mold and mildew issues, Robert bought various cleaning supplies but they did not help. The Merkels told their landlord of their issues and he refused to hire a qualified professional to remove the mold. In the meantime, several of the couple’s children developed chronic respiratory irritation due to the constant cold, mold, and mildew they experienced during the winter months. The landlord refused to hire an exterminator, so Robert bought sprays to deal with the bed bugs and roaches, but they repeatedly returned.
Another round of applause, please, for the 2015 Housing Heroes who sponsored Hearts for Housing and to all who participated! Your generosity and commitment to safe, decent and affordable housing for all helped LCBH have its most successful event to date. Many who live in poverty will benefit from the $100,000 you raised to support LCBH programming! The legal and supportive services that LCBH provides are, many times, the last defense against homelessness. Thank you for giving so much heart – to the Hearts for Housing event, and to our community. You are all housing heroes!!!
Kirkland & Ellis LLP
Sidley & Austin
Todd and Susan Maynes
Brinks Gilson & Lione
Banner & Witcoff
Sharon King Foundation
LCBH would like to thank everyone who attended our tenth Annual Hearts for Housing Fundraiser on April 24th. It was great fun to spend the evening playing cards, eating, drinking, and networking with YOU to support a great cause!
Your generosity along with many other individuals, sponsors, and local businesses made Hearts for Housing 2015 a smashing success. Thank you!
LCBH was able to raise over $100,000 to support programs that provide legal and supportive services impacting over 10,000 lower income renters a year. Every one of us has something to contribute to keeping Chicago vibrant and affordable for all of us because we all deserve a safe, decent and affordable place to call home.
We owe a special thanks to LCBH Board of Directors and the Young Professionals Board for their extraordinary efforts in making this raffle and auction a great success! It is truly amazing what can be accomplished when people come together to improve our community!
Thank you for attending this special event and for your support. We hope you enjoyed it as much as we did!
Congrats to Annemarie, Jim, Steve, and Bert our Hearts for Housing 2015 Tournament Winners!
Again, thank you for your continued support of LCBH’s mission. We look forward to seeing you at future events!