Lawyers' Committee for Better Housing

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Mae Whiteside

Last summer, Mae Whiteside did something that’s highly unusual in the world of non-profits.

"I picked up the phone and called to see if Lawyers' Committee for Better Housing had any openings for board members" she shares. "I needed to get back involved in this fight, because being homeless shaped me into who I am today."

Whiteside's childhood homes included tiny kitchenette studios, rooms with no heat, acquaintances' couches, and even homeless shelters. Her family's journey through homelessness began in 1985 when Mae's older sister turned 18 and financial support for her ended. Mae's mother tried but couldn't get their household income adjusted with the Chicago Housing Authority.

"She met with many pro bono and legal service providers – they couldn’t help, didn’t care," Mae says.

Giving Tuesday

Giving Tuesday

Giving Tuesday is finally here and we’re grateful to have a supportive community of volunteers, staff, and clients to help us reach our goals. Our partnership with Forefront for the #ILGive campaign has already produced results with our total for today surpassing $5,000, but we want to go even further. Chicago renters facing unfair eviction orders, poor housing conditions, and skyrocketing rents need our help and there’s no better way to do this than donating or volunteering here!

When Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing launched it’s Chicago Evictions data portal last May, a key finding was the number of Chicago tenants being evicted over relatively small amounts of money.

82% of Chicago eviction cases filed in 2010-17 made claims for back rent. In 18%, the rent owed was less than $1,000, and 44% were under $2,500.

In October, LCBH expanded a successful pilot project that provides eligible Chicago renters supportive services, free legal aid, and access to State Homelessness Prevention Funds (the Funds) up to $5,000 for back rent and/or security deposits.

Prior to the pilot, renters summoned to appear in eviction court were not screened for eligibility. Jude Gonzales, Supportive Services Director, and his group of Masters of Social Work interns are leading the effort to change that through our Court-Based Emergency Rental Assistance (CERA) program.

In addition to financial assistance, the CERA team works to address underlying issues that led to the eviction filing by providing referrals to job training, financial literacy, and other beneficial programs. If needed, they can help households find replacement housing.

Renter StoriesMore Stories

I Wouldn't Wish It On My Worst Enemies

Margie

In 30-plus years in the Logan Square area, Margie had only lived in four different apartments.

Ms. Thomas

Ms. Thomas

Imagine you’re sprawled out on your couch after getting home from work, taking a moment to unwind from the day, thinking about what you might make for dinner.

Rachel’s Paycheck-to-Paycheck Reality

Rachel

We may not realize it, but many people are “one paycheck away from being homeless.” Unfortunately this is the reality for many of those we see at LCBH.

Shannon

Shannon

During her annual checkup, Shannon’s doctor asked whether she was experiencing any stress.

John Sees His Doctor

John

John is a young disabled man who has had asthma all of his life. John is unable to work and he lives on very limited resources and income from Social Security.

In the Case of Occupants Known

Amanda and George

Amanda and George Fullerton have lived in Chicago all their lives.