The staff at Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing (LCBH) work hard every day to ensure that everyone has a safe, decent, and affordable place to call home. Whether it is an attorney, volunteer, or intern they are 100% invested in our mission and our clients. As many of you may know, what makes LCBH different is our holistic approach to helping those in need, which involves providing additional supportive services to our most vulnerable clients. Here is a chance for you to meet our new Supportive Services Director, Christine Daly who joined the team just a few months ago.
Q: How would people describe you?
A: Goofy. Loyal. Organized. Motivated. Tough. Caring.
Q: What does your typical day at LCBH look like?
A: My position is a great mixture of administrative, supervisory and direct client work. I currently supervise two (2) interns, which will increase to six (6) interns in the fall semester. The attorneys at LCBH represent individuals who are at-risk of losing their housing, often due to an eviction or foreclosure. Our supportive services program then works to help those individuals find alternative housing. While working with clients, we often also begin to address other issues, such as substance abuse, mental health, or lack of resources. We assist clients in achieving their goals by reaching out to other agencies to ensure we have the greatest quality of resources to assist our clients. LCBH is always adapting the way that we provide services to meet the specific needs of the client, and my favorite part of my job is in facilitating that change.
Q: Are you originally from Chicago? What position did you hold prior to this one? What previous experience made you apply for this position?
A: Chicago adopted me five (5) years ago from Reading, Pennsylvania. I moved here to study at the Jane Addams College of Social Work, where I received my Masters of Social Work (MSW). After graduation, I had the privilege of working on a team of consultants to end the institutionalization of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities throughout the state. Following that, I worked with a team of passionate advocates in the supportive housing area at Mercy Housing Lakefront, to save affordable housing in Chicago. I was fortunate to have the front row seat to hundreds of individuals receiving keys to their first apartment and that solidified my interest in working in housing. I’ve been in housing, in some capacity, for the past four years. I look forward to working on the renter side of things with LCBH, working not only to maintain affordable housing but also to improve it.
Q: What was your first impression of LCBH?
A: I have never worked with a legal team before and did not know what to expect. During my interview I was asked, “What do you think causes poverty?” at that moment, I knew it was not going to be much different from working with Social Workers. I have been amazed at how compassionate the attorneys at LCBH are to their clients’ stories, and what we can do to help them. The staff at LCBH not only advocates each client’s individual case, but also works to ensure everyone has a safe, decent and affordable place to call home. I did research on LCBH before I applied for the position and knew right away, I wanted to be a part of this team.
Q: Who or what influenced your decision to be a social worker?
A: I spent 6 months in Cartago, Costa Rica, working with children. By then I knew I wanted to work in Social Work. Every young Social Worker has that idea that they are going to “save the world,” and I was no different. I quickly realized I may not be able to “save the world” but I can still make a difference in a big way, as long as I have a great team by my side. I’ve been working to find that team ever since. In Costa Rica, social services were extremely lacking, and the “helpers” had to be creative. I volunteered at a children’s home ran by a group of women in Cartago, they had built many great connections with their neighbors. On any given day, one of those neighbors would bring fruits and vegetables to the house, fix the leaky roof, bring gifts they had made for someone’s birthday, and a guitar for sing-alongs. These neighbors weren’t “saving the world” but they were making a huge difference in these little kids’ lives.
Q: What do you find most challenging about Social Work?
A: For me the challenging aspects in social work are staying ahead of the curve and knowing your limits. The systems that are put in place at the city, state and federal level, are constantly changing the way social workers can affectively deliver social services and the resources that are available to help those in need. Most of the changes are unavoidable and, at first glance, disheartening. I like to believe that with every change, even negative, there is still a positive result. You can achieve a lot with creativity and a positive outlook; however, that is not always easy to maintain. Knowing your limits as a social worker and as a human being can be just as challenging. You can easily be caught in a cycle where you are working harder than your client to change their situation. This is usually the case in most situations, because when a crisis is going on in a client’s life it can be difficult to find the motivation to make such a large change. I usually combat this by accessing the client where they are, taking a step back, and finding a different direction to help them. When that doesn’t work, I have to take a tougher approach with clients which entails pausing the attempts at assisting the client, recognizing that now may not be the time for change, agreeing with the client to pick up again at a later time, and hoping for the best.
Q: How did you choose to work in Housing and Legal Aid? Alternatively, did it choose you?
A: Housing is one of the most (if not the most) basic human rights an individual can have. Without housing, it is difficult to address or change anything else. Families cannot even begin to focus on their children’s education if they do not have a safe and stable home where they can lay their heads down at the end of the day. I liked the inclusion of both social services and legal aid because it addresses a wider realm of issues. Lawyers can help families to gain more time to move from their homes but that’s not entirely helpful if they don’t have anywhere to go. I find it similar to programs that work with individuals who have been dually diagnosed. You can’t treat one without the other. I think the two programs complement each other very well.
Q: What do you enjoy about the clients that you have worked with at LCBH?
A: Every individual I have worked with, from a single father to a mother of six, has been overwhelmingly inspirational. The individuals we work with are coming to us in a state of crisis. It is overwhelming for any family to go through the eviction process and not know when they may have to leave their home. It has been extremely rewarding to be able to provide a level of support for them during a completely unrecognizable situation. It has also been incredibly inspirational to see the level of determination the individuals we work with have.
Q: What uniqueness do you bring to the position at LCBH?
A: I am one of a handful of Social Workers that never truly chose one specific direction. I like it all, administrative, clinical, and program development. The greatest part about my position at LCBH is that I am able to use my skills in each of these areas.
Q: What might someone be surprised to know about you?
A: I am a self-professed “dumpster diver” and have a weird hobby for getting furniture out of the trash and giving it new life. It’s become a fun hobby and I’ve started making furniture for friends as well. I made a great bed out of pallets once and a chalkboard out of the back of a dresser.
I have a dog sitting business.
I play the flute, piccolo, and mellophone.
I’m deathly afraid of balloons. Mostly the possibility of popping said balloons.