Housing Advocate in the Making

Kira Wilpone-Jordan

Kira Wilpone-Jordan learned about Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing (LCBH) as a first year law student (1L) while attending DePaul Law School. She attended a Brown Bag Lunch sponsored by the Center for Public Interest Law where she heard LCBH's pro bono coordinator, Samira Nazem, speak about the agency. Intrigued by what she heard, Kira applied to join LCBH as a summer intern. Two years later, Kira continues to volunteer and has worked with three different legal programs at LCBH advocating on behalf of tenants.

As a strong supporter of LCBH's mission, Kira firmly believes that housing is a basic human right. As she puts it, "people in positions of power know they have housing, so they don't think of the consequences of not having access to stable housing and living with housing insecurity. It's something that everyone uses, but often takes for granted."

Kira has volunteered with other legal aid agencies, both in her native home state of Maryland and here in Chicago. However, she says she is drawn to LCBH because of its unique model which includes a wide range of both litigation and non-litigation advocacy. Her most memorable assignment was her very first one as a summer intern in the Attorney of the Day (AOD) Eviction Defense Program. Kira worked with a tenant who was facing eviction because she had been hospitalized for a serious medical condition and had violated a lease provision that prohibited tenants from leaving their apartment for more than 30 days. In a matter of hours, Kira requested a reasonable accommodation for the tenant and convinced the landlord not to move forward with the eviction. Just a few quick phone calls had saved someone’s home. That case showed Kira how important it is for LCBH to be an advocate for those who feel they have no voice in the legal system.

Since then, Kira has also volunteered with the Affordable Housing Preservation Project (AHPP) and the Tenants in Foreclosure Intervention Project (TFIP). She has a particularly strong affinity for AHPP because “you work with multiple units that have similar problems and intervene to find a solution or remedy the substandard housing conditions that numerous tenants are living in. It allows us to make a lot of impact in just one case." She also finds site visits (a regular part of AHPP's work) to be very important because they allow her to go out into the community and see the conditions that her clients live in. "You can hear about these conditions, but it's hard to visualize. Being able to go into clients’ homes helps you develop another level of empathy. You see the conditions and what they’re living with on a day-to-day basis."

As committed as she is to housing advocacy, Kira does make time to enjoy all that her adopted home of Chicago has to offer. One of her favorite activities is packing a picnic basket and listening to music in Millennium Park in the summer. Kira lives in Humboldt Park and enjoys running in the park and exploring the restaurants in the neighboring communities. After she graduates from law school this summer, Kira hopes to continue on her journey as a housing advocate.