Mark's Musings – March 2020 Edition

LCBH Executive Director Mark Swartz

I hope that you and your family had a happy month of February! The year has begun to ramp up for LCBH, and I’m pleased to share two critical updates:

  • The Just Housing Amendment (JHA) took effect on January 1, 2020. Before JHA, landlords could ask prospective renters about prior arrests and convictions and deny their application solely based on their criminal history. In many cases, this blanket form of discrimination leads to homelessness and family instability for returning citizens and their families who have served their time and pose no threat to personal safety or property. The JHA prohibits landlord discrimination based on an individual’s juvenile or arrest record or criminal history that is more than three years old. For criminal convictions within the last three years, the JHA requires housing providers to perform an individualized assessment of an otherwise qualified individual's criminal conviction history before denying them housing. One exception to the JHA is if the applicant or a household member is a current sex offender required to register under the Sex Offender Registration Act or a current child sex offender under residency restriction. As you will see in the next bullet item below, I’m pleased to announce that LCBH has received new funding that will allow us to accept these types of cases in order to enforce tenant protections provided by the JHA.
  • LCBH is an Access to Justice Grantee. Access to Justice is a new statewide program administered by the Westside Justice Center and The Resurrection Project. It seeks to mitigate the devastating consequences of incarceration and family separation related to immigration on vulnerable communities by expanding effective and holistic community-based legal services. The Access to Justice grant will allow us to expand the full panoply of our legal advocacy work into community areas hardest hit by incarceration. We are happy to be an Access to Justice Grantee and look forward to putting our best efforts forward.

While policy changes and grants propel us forward, the real engine in our success is LCBH’s alumni. Hundreds, if not thousands of individuals have contributed to LCBH’s impact on Chicago renters in the last four decades. If you have served LCBH as a pro bono attorney, social work intern, or legal fellow, I encourage you to Share Your Story and enrich our historical perspectives.

Until next time,

Mark

P.S. Thursday, October 8, 2020, is our 40th Anniversary Celebration at Buddy Guy’s Legends - mark your calendar now! Help us reconnect with old friends, whether they are past alumni and or volunteers, to include them in the festivities. Moreover, if you want to help with the 40th celebration planning, email Allen Hailey to learn more.