Welcome to LCBH’s Blog. Our blog delivers original articles written by our staff, interns and volunteers. We strive to provide informative stories about the work we do on behalf of Chicago renters and the issues renters face.
A historic moment in county history and a victory for tenants and housing advocates! Last Wednesday, May 8, 2013, the Cook County Board voted to end the exclusion of Housing Choice Voucher holders—Section 8— from source of income protections in Cook County’s Human Rights Ordinance. Housing advocates and a few progressive county commissioners have been fighting for this amendment for almost 10 years.
Back in December, LCBH’s own Kathy Clark discussed housing voucher discrimination at length and highlighted what has been a lengthy struggle to extend protections for voucher holders throughout Cook County.
The vote was truly a victory, and a collaborative effort by sponsors of the amendment: Commissioners Garcia, Suffredin, and Steele and the core advocate groups: Open Communities, Metropolitan Tenants Organization, Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, Access Living, Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing, and Chicago Area Fair Housing Alliance (CAFHA).
Community organizing is one of the most important practices that renters can engage in when trying to affect change in a large apartment building. A group of organized and well-informed renters can often get a landlord to listen to them and have a better chance of getting management to respond to grievances.
Imagine if your basement constantly flooded due to poor drainage. Imagine if your heat went out regularly. Imagine being in a wheelchair and not being able to leave your home because no one has shoveled the snow. These are services that most expect their landlord to provide as part of regular building maintenance. Unfortunately, too many renters are living in buildings where requests are ignored or reasonable requests come with the risk of retaliation by the landlord, resulting in eviction. By stating demands as a group, tenants may find it easier to get management to look at problems and resolve them faster without being labeled as individual troublemakers.
Meetings provide opportunities for renters to become informed about their rights and responsibilities, and places where they can explore and ask questions about what organizing means for their housing. Successful tenant organizations meet regularly to identify and address important building issues that the renters collectively care about, such as a failure to maintain the building in a habitable manner.