LCBH is grateful for the dedicated leaders who serve on our Board of Directors, volunteering their time, energy and resources to lead the organization during periods of growth and change. Many thanks to our outgoing Board Member Taft West, who has contributed so much to the organization.
We would like to thank Taft for his remarkable service! Taft is stepping away from being a board member to enjoy retirement. We recently sat down with Taft to learn about his experience serving on the LCBH Board of Directors.
Where did you work prior to board membership?
I have been fortunate to spend my entire career working in affordable housing. I started working for Draper and Kramer in 1979 as an Assistant Manager trainee, helping with the development of Dearborn Park. I managed over 2,000 apartments and 30 commercial units, which were some of their largest properties and condos, including Lake Meadows. This responsibility prepared me for my transition to Rockford, Illinois, where I managed the Rockford Housing Authority for five years. After receiving my real estate license in 2008, I started teaching classes on fair and affordable housing, marketing, maintenance, housing choice vouchers, and landlord tenant ordinances at the Chicago Association of Realtors.
How did you first get involved with LCBH?
I would attend Chicago’s Rents Right expo with Mark Swartz during the time I was working for the Chicago Community Loan Fund (CCLF). Since then, I’ve worked closely with him in numerous capacities. LCBH attorneys often paid regular visits to my classes and held regular discussions about landlord tenant issues. After retiring from CCLF, I joined the LCBH Board of Directors in 2018.
What drew you to LCBH’s mission?
LCBH’s mission was right in line with my beliefs. I was really pleased to see there’s an organization focused on helping underserved people stay housed. Many people get taken advantage of and if you don’t have legal representation, you end up on the losing end. LCBH balances it out and pushes back against unfairness. As a landlord, you have a duty to care. One of the greatest things that I could do as a landlord was providing people that did not have a lot of money a nice apartment. Making sure people lived decent lives and avoided being unfairly evicted was a priority for me.
What was your favorite memory while serving on the board?
My first year, they wanted to know who wanted to ask people for money. I raised my hand. The response was overwhelmingly positive. As someone who grew up in a southern Baptist church, I was happy to do fundraising. A former tax appeal constituent wrote a one-thousand dollar check on my first casual ask. I knew going forward that I was meant to do this.
What are your plans going forward?
I want to focus on helping people in the community to understand real estate. I’m passionate about acquiring land, investing and developing portfolios, and I would like to use my experience to educate other aspiring property owners in Chicago.