Blog

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.

Board President Todd Maynes speaking at LCBH's 2014 Annual Reception

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.

Daniela with her sons

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.

Why Pro Bono?

Our volunteers level the playing field by giving low-income renters a voice in court.

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:

2014 Annual Reception & Awards Ceremony

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!

Speakers

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.

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.

From left: Todd Maynes, LCBH Board President, Victoria Ogunsanya, LCBH Staff Attorney, Elce Redmond, and Cheryl Lawrence, LCBH Executive Director.

Elce Redmond
We honor Elce Redmond with the Community Organizer of the Year award for his vital work in community organizing campaigns to enact or change policies.

2014 Friend of LCBH Award

From left: Samira Nazem, LCBH Pro Bono Coordinator, Katrice Hall, Cheryl Lawrence, LCBH Executive Director, Taylor Hammond, Director, Justice Entrepreneurs Project, John Norkus, and Joanna Long.

Justice Entrepreneurs Project (JEP)
The Friend of LCBH Award recognizes a corporation, law firm or organization that has contributed consistently and meaningfully to the Lawyers' Committee for Better Housing.

2014 Intern of the Year Award

Jordan Carey, Guadalupe Angulo and Blake Wilkinson

Jordan Carey, Guadalupe Angulo and Blake Wilkinson
The Intern of the Year Award honors interns who have spent time at LCBH learning about the work we do and going above and beyond the call of duty.

2014 Law Firm Of The Year Award

From left: Todd Maynes, LCBH Board President, Samira Nazem, LCBH Pro Bono Coordinator, Morgan Hirst, Jones Day and Cheryl Lawrence, LCBH Executive Director

Jones Day
The Law Firm of the Year Award is presented when a firm's pro bono contributions to LCBH or its mission makes a significant impact well into the future.

From left: Samira Nazem, LCBH Pro Bono Coordinator, Todd Maynes, LCBH Board President, Catie Cottle, Christine Payne, Cheryl Lawrence, LCBH Executive Director, and Jim Medek.

Catie Cottle, Jim Medek and Christine Payne from Kirkland & Ellis LLP
LCBH recognizes these volunteers for dedicating their time and energy to LCBH over the past year. These individuals choose to come to LCBH to learn and make a difference in the lives of others.