COVID-19 Eviction Prevention Project

After LCBH closed its doors in March, we pivoted our services to a digital and virtual world where we continue to provide the same level of services and advocacy for Chicago tenants. Through "Renny" and Rentervention, LCBH provides legal information available to Chicago tenants 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and, in some cases, connects tenants with LCBH attorneys through Rentervention's Virtual Legal Clinic. In May, LCBH launched "Tenant Thursdays," a Facebook Live series that hosts segments on essential topics for Chicago tenants. Tenant Thursdays allow viewers to directly ask their question's to our subject matter experts on the live stream.

LCBH attorneys have relied on federal, state, and local actions to protect tents during these troublesome times. Since late April, Governor Pritzker has continued his eviction moratoria to prevent nearly all new eviction filings, except when the tenant presents a health and safety threat. On October 16th, he extended this protection another 30 days. Just as the federal CARES protections began to expire this summer, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a federal moratorium order that also prevents the eviction filings against hard-hit tenants. For our work, the Chicago City Council's historic COVID-19 eviction moratorium ordinance provides new requirements that landlords and tenants first negotiate their differences before landlords file evictions. These moratoria and ordinances provide Chicago tenants with eviction protection as COVID-19 continues to challenge vulnerable Chicagoans.

Chicago's COVID-19 Ordinance provides the impetus for a major, albeit temporary, expansion of LCBH's legal and social work capacity. The Chicago Department of Housing backed up the City's preference for negotiations by awarding LCBH a grant. Through this grant, we created the Chicago COVID-19 Eviction Prevention Project to use legal negotiation skills and social services assessment capacity to give effect to a desire to prevent disruption caused by evictions and further destabilization of families already hard hit by the pandemic.

In early September, LCBH hired Michelle Gilbert as its Legal Director to achieve this inspiring goal. Michelle brings 30 years' experience working with low-income tenants and a genuine commitment to preventing homelessness. The COVID-19 Eviction Prevention Project has hired twelve temporary attorneys to work solely to prevent COVID-related housing disruption.

The Eviction Prevention Project is comprised of three teams. One is focused solely on negotiating agreements with landlords on behalf of tenants. Another team addresses illegal lockouts, and one team defends tenants in evictions that should not have been filed. As a result, strong communication with tenants is crucial to determine when landlords are engaging in unlawful activities such as lockouts. This allows our attorneys to step in and support negotiations between tenants and landlords to achieve the best outcome for both parties before drastic measures are taken. LCBH's community engagement team works across disciplines to connect elected officials, neighborhood organizations, tenant unions, and buildings with LCBH's services.

If you or someone you know is a Chicago tenant who has lost income due to the pandemic and is behind on rent, worried about being evicted, concerned about their landlord locking them out, or want to negotiate with their landlord. You can reach the COVID-19 Eviction Prevention Project by going to rentervention.com or calling (312) 347-7600.