Patricia currently serves as the Co-Executive Director of the Chicago Area Fair Housing Alliance (CAFHA), where she jointly leads lead the organization’s membership programming, policy and advocacy initiatives, and fair housing training and technical assistance programming. CAFHA combats housing discrimination and promotes equitable place-based opportunity through education, advocacy, and collaborative action. Patricia was awarded the Barbra Grau Outstanding Housing Advocate award in 2019 for her and CAFHA’s work on the Just Housing Amendment.
How did you first get involved with LCBH?
I first came on in 2010 to assist with the Tenants in Foreclosure Intervention Project. During my 5-year employment with LCBH, my position evolved and I worked in several different programs including developing a renewed Policy & Advocacy Program.
What drew you to the work?
After graduating with my Master of Social Work degree from Loyola University, I knew that I wanted to work on the systemic, policy-related issues that produce inequities in terms of who has access to what opportunities. I felt that I needed to develop an understanding of how laws and policies are created and implemented. Housing was not specifically on my radar initially, but once I was at LCBH, I was completely hooked. I realized that housing is the foundation that connects us to our broader community, our social networks, and importantly, creates opportunities for education, employment, health services—all the fundamentals to health and prosperity. At LCBH, the fight for housing justice became the focus of my career.
What did your work at LCBH consist of?
I mostly managed the Tenants in Foreclosure Intervention program’s renter hotline, produced annual policy reports on our foreclosure data and the broader impacts of the foreclosure crisis on renter households. I also worked on advocacy campaigns with partnering organizations to enhance renter protections.
What work do you do currently?
As the Co-Executive Director of the Chicago Area Fair Housing Alliance (CAFHA), I jointly lead the organization’s membership programming, policy and advocacy initiatives, and fair housing training and technical assistance programming. CAFHA works with communities and individuals that have been most impacted by our region’s historic residential segregation, and fight together to make housing access and stability more just and equitable. Growing into my position at CAFHA was largely built on my experiences at LCBH, and I feel truly grateful for all of the opportunities I have had in my career and the wonderful mentors I’ve had all along the way.
Did your time at LCBH prepare you for what you do now? If so, how?
While at LCBH, I had the opportunity to work on the Keep Chicago Renting Campaign- this truly changed the trajectory of my career and provided lessons I’ve carried forward even in my work today. Through Keep Chicago Renting—the successful campaign to create anti-displacement protections for renters in foreclosure buildings—I worked alongside attorneys, community organizers, and renters living in foreclosed buildings and together we fought to change the narrative around the foreclosure crisis to include renters, we took on the powerful banking industry, and ultimately won new and needed housing rights. We created a space that honored every voice at the table and centered the experiences of those directly impacted. That experience served as a model for me in terms of how to structure coalition work; it also confirmed my desires to work in this space of organizing and advocacy.
"This work provided lessons that I have carried forward even in my work today."