Students in the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute civic engagement program of Northwestern University received a "guided tour" and briefing session on eviction court October 18.
After observing part of the eviction court call at the Daley Center Thursday morning, the group of 16 adult learners debriefed the experience with Executive Director Mark Swartz and Supportive Services Director Jude Gonzales. The students remarked on the obvious disparity in legal representation. Their experience was in line with the recent Prejudged report finding that while 81% of landlords had attorneys, only 12% of tenants did. Students commented that they could see how this put tenants at a disadvantage in the court cases they observed.
The class has met with local and national leaders and experts from Community Investment Corporation, Chicago Housing Authority, the Chicago Area Fair Housing Alliance, the Urban Institute, and others in their study of barriers to safe and affordable housing. Many of the participants emphasized that they hope to use their new information to be doers as well as learners in helping to support the development of more safe and affordable housing.