Blog: Interns

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.

Daniel Parrish

Ms. Wiles lived peacefully above her landlord in an owner-occupied building for over a year. During this time, she underwent training to become a foster parent, with the hope of adopting a child one day. To her surprise, she had the opportunity to adopt three siblings and keep a family together.

Unfortunately, Ms. Wiles’ landlord did not share her enthusiasm about the situation or like the idea of three children joining her in the upstairs apartment. The following month, the owner demanded an immediate rent increase of 47% and refused to accept the previously agreed upon rent listed in the lease. When Ms. Wiles was unable to pay the higher rent, the owner served her with a five-day notice to terminate the tenancy and then filed an eviction lawsuit.

Ms. Wiles came to LCBH seeking legal representation in eviction court where she was referred to the LCBH’s Attorney of the Day (AOD) eviction defense program. Ms. Wiles had a compelling defense based on discrimination against her due to her parental status, which is protected both in Chicago and Cook County. She also had a strong technical defense based on her landlord’s failure to provide her with proper notice.

2014 LCBH Summer Legal Team

LCBH Summer Legal Team

This summer LCBH has seven legal interns and volunteers working with us. Without these students and recent graduates who come to spend their summer with us, LCBH would have a tough time offering the legal services our clients need. Here are a few highlights from each of them:

Sarah Barnes is a rising third year law student at Chicago-Kent College of Law. At LCBH, Sarah works with the Tenants in Foreclosure Intervention Project (TFIP), assisting renters who are facing eviction due to a landlord’s mortgage foreclosure. Prior to law school, Sarah volunteered with the AmeriCorps program where she helped Michigan homeowners avoid foreclosure through counseling and home retention services. “When individuals and families do not have stable housing it affects every other aspect of their life.” Sarah enjoys working with tenants, especially at LCBH’s help desk. “There are many laws protecting tenants in this position, but most tenants do not know their rights and do not know where to turn for help.” Sarah has enjoyed working with the TFIP program and hopes to continue volunteering at the help desk in the fall.

2014 LCBH Summer Legal Team

LCBH Summer Legal Team

This summer LCBH has seven legal interns and volunteers working with us. Without these students and recent graduates who come to spend their summer with us, LCBH would have a tough time offering the legal services our clients need. Here are a few highlights from each of them:

Sarah Barnes is a rising third year law student at Chicago-Kent College of Law. At LCBH, Sarah works with the Tenants in Foreclosure Intervention Project (TFIP), assisting renters who are facing eviction due to a landlord’s mortgage foreclosure. Prior to law school, Sarah volunteered with the AmeriCorps program where she helped Michigan homeowners avoid foreclosure through counseling and home retention services. “When individuals and families do not have stable housing it affects every other aspect of their life.” Sarah enjoys working with tenants, especially at LCBH’s help desk. “There are many laws protecting tenants in this position, but most tenants do not know their rights and do not know where to turn for help.” Sarah has enjoyed working with the TFIP program and hopes to continue volunteering at the help desk in the fall.

2014 Summer Supportive Services Interns

This summer LCBH has four undergraduate interns working in our Supportive Services Department. This is a BIG help as our graduate interns are only here during the regular school year from September until June. Without these students who come to spend their summer with us, LCBH would have a tough time offering the level of service our clients need. Here are a few highlights from each of the students:

Helena Bassett is interning at LCBH through the Summer Links program at the University of Chicago, where she is entering her third year. She is studying history and critical theory, and spends most of her time organizing with the student arm of the Trauma Center Coalition. Working with Supportive Services, Helena is crafting a survey to help get a clearer picture of tenants’ actual needs beyond legal help when they are accepted as an LCBH client. Right now, that means she gets to connect with some of the amazing tenants that have already gone through Supportive Services so that the tenants’ own perspectives help shape the survey and the direction of the program. “I believe that one of the most fundamental ways that asymmetrical power structures are expressed is through the often unjust relationship between tenant and landlord. Working at LCBH shows me one of the avenues possible for challenging that structure.”

This year LCBH’s Supportive Services program is very fortunate to have six amazing interns to help us out: Lizzie Buehler, Caitlin Cubbon, Katy Fohrman, Shannon Skahan, Sally Walstrom, and Blake Wilkinson.

2013 Interns of the Year

From Left: Samria Nazem, LCBH Pro Bono Coordinator; Kira Wilpone-Jordan; Rachel; DuJuan Dixon; Mark Swartz, LCBH Legal Director; Michael Griffin; Anthony G. Hopp, LCBH Board President; Cheryl Lawrence, LCBH Executive Director

This year we honor four interns for their dedicated service to LCBH and its mission: Affordable Housing Preservation: Kira Wilpone-Jordan, Eviction Defense: Michael Griffin, Paralegal: DuJuan Dixon, and Supportive Services: Rachel.

Intern Spotlight: Michael Griffin

Michael (center) pictured with staff attorneys Frank Avellone (left) and Noah Magaram (right)

Michael Griffin is a third-year law student at Chicago-Kent College of Law. Looking for litigation experience, Michael found LCBH’s internship posting on the Illinois Legal Aid Online website (http://www.illinoislegalaidonline.org/). As a long-time Chicago renter, he had an interest in landlord-tenant law and thought it would be a good fit. We did too, and Michael joined our team of legal interns in the fall of 2012.

“When I started, I really didn’t know the difference between a motion and a pleading,” recounts Michael. However, Michael was given real cases immediately and was drafting both motions and pleadings within a few weeks. He was encouraged to dive into assignments, learn the procedural and substantive laws, and confer with senior LCBH attorneys who could assist with creating a better work product.

“I really appreciate that I’ve gotten such great practical experience,” said Michael, who recently won his first jury trial (see story this issue). “A lot of attorneys never set foot in a court room, let alone chair and win a jury trial.” LCBH staff attorney Noah Magaram supported Michael’s interests and was soon sending him cases that had jury potential for preparation.”

Intern Spotlight: Michael Griffin

Michael (center) pictured with staff attorneys Frank Avellone (left) and Noah Magaram (right)

Michael Griffin is a third-year law student at Chicago-Kent College of Law. Looking for litigation experience, Michael found LCBH’s internship posting on the Illinois Legal Aid Online website (http://www.illinoislegalaidonline.org/). As a long-time Chicago renter, he had an interest in landlord-tenant law and thought it would be a good fit. We did too, and Michael joined our team of legal interns in the fall of 2012.

“When I started, I really didn’t know the difference between a motion and a pleading,” recounts Michael. However, Michael was given real cases immediately and was drafting both motions and pleadings within a few weeks. He was encouraged to dive into assignments, learn the procedural and substantive laws, and confer with senior LCBH attorneys who could assist with creating a better work product.

“I really appreciate that I’ve gotten such great practical experience,” said Michael, who recently won his first jury trial (see story this issue). “A lot of attorneys never set foot in a court room, let alone chair and win a jury trial.” LCBH staff attorney Noah Magaram supported Michael’s interests and was soon sending him cases that had jury potential for preparation.”

Hands

This summer LCBH’s Supportive Services program is very fortunate to have two new, and two returning interns to help us out.
- Anais Cotillas
- Grace Pai
- Loretta Maestranzi
- Evelyn Buehler
Welcome to all four of you, everyone at LCBH hopes you enjoy your summer with us.

Couple struggle with housing issues

Do you remember how long your last lease was? A page or two? It probably wasn’t 20+ pages, the typical length of a lease for a resident of subsidized housing in Chicago.

What’s in those lengthy leases? Rules. To qualify for subsidized housing, residents must go through a rigorous background check and application process.

Once approved, residents are asked to sign paperwork agreeing to abide by a comprehensive set of rules. Any violation is grounds for eviction.

Many of the rules that these residents must abide by seem quite reasonable. There are the standard prohibitions on noise and damage. There are bans on criminal conduct, drug use, and gang activity. But other rules seem unnecessarily restrictive, especially to anyone used to the freedom of the private housing market. The following are actual rules enforced in some Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) properties: