Last summer, “Hannah” contracted COVID-19 leaving her unable to work. To make matters worse, Hannah’s employer denied her request for sick time and terminated her employment. Without a steady income, she fell behind on rent for the first time.
Soon after, Hannah’s landlord filed an eviction against her, stating she needed to pay her back rent or move out. Working as an unwavering advocate for herself and her family, Hannah found and applied for two sources of emergency rental assistance before her court date. In December, both requests were approved pending her landlord’s participation. At her first court date in January, Hannah was referred to the Early Resolution Program where LCBH Staff Attorney Rachel Pollak helped her apply for Cook County Emergency Rental Assistance. Hannah’s landlord refused to receive any of the three forms of rental assistance, despite knowing Hannah had returned to work and could pay rent going forward.
Because Hannah’s landlord refused to accept any rental assistance, which she used as a source of income to maintain her housing, Rachel filed a Source of Income Discrimination lawsuit against him, an Illinois fair housing protection only gained in 2022 thanks to advocacy by LCBH and a coalition of housing justice allies. Hannah’s landlord quickly reversed his stance on rental assistance, agreeing to accept her back rent, dismiss the case, and seal her eviction record.
“I’m crying tears of joy! To see this come to an end with a positive result is so humbling,” Hannah said.
As an increasing number of landlords refuse to accept these funds and put more renters at risk of homelessness, LCBH’s team of highly skilled attorneys is needed more than ever to normalize the notion that rental assistance is a source of income worthy of protection.
“The work you do is phenomenal. You are truly helping to change someone’s life for the better, and that’s worth more than money can buy!”