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.
Melissa Picciola comes to LCBH with eight years of legal experience. She started her career at a large law firm and most recently has been with Equip for Equality. She also has experience providing legal trainings in a wide variety of settings including national, state and local conferences and meetings.
Melissa Picciola earned both her undergraduate degree in Political Science and Finance and her J.D. from the University of Illinois. After law school, she worked as an associate at McDermott Will & Emery LLP. Beginning in 2009, she worked as a staff attorney in the Public Policy and Abuse Investigation Unit at Equip for Equality. During her time at Equip for Equality, Melissa worked with a variety of issues affecting individuals with disabilities including access to community-based services such as employment; Medicaid payment structures and access to benefits; and increasing voter participation among individuals with disabilities.
This summer, staff took time to enjoy an afternoon of fun and games at Emporium Arcade Bar in Logan Square. With the number of tenants in need of LCBH services increasing each year, the event was a nice break from staff members’ normally hectic schedules.
Every summer LCBH is fortunate to have the best and brightest legal and supportive service interns 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 and supportive services our clients need. Here are a few highlights from each of them:
Ethan Domsten will soon start his second year of law school at the Loyola University Chicago School of Law. He has counseled numerous tenants, facing a wide range of legal problems, advising them on their rights under various state and local laws. He has enjoyed seeing the tangible benefits he can secure for LCBH clients simply by making a few phone calls. With Ethan’s assistance, tenants have asserted rights they did not know they had and have been able to secure legal outcomes that protected their tenancy and stabilized their housing.
At LCBH, we believe that what we do is special and we feel that the people that help us achieve what we do are awesome! This year LCBH is proud to announce Hops for Housing! We are so thankful that we have been able to celebrate and grow with such a great community of volunteers, interns, organizations, and donors. We want to thank all of you that make LCBH such a success! Your contributions empower families to move from a path leading to homelessness to one of safe and stable housing.
Come enjoy locally brewed craft beer at Lagunitas Brewing Co., nosh on delicious appetizers, and support equal access to justice. Be a part of an inspiring evening and join a community that believes everyone in Chicago deserves a safe, decent, healthy, and affordable place to call home.
For this month’s Q&A, we sat down for a conversation with Noah Magaram, an LCBH staff attorney who focuses much of his work on eviction defense. A graduate of DePaul University College of Law, Noah came to LCBH in Fall 2011 as a volunteer, and has been a staff attorney since September 2012.
Q: What made you choose to work at a legal aid agency?
I resolved when applying to law school to enter a practice area that was oriented toward the public interest. I became interested in housing law specifically after writing a legislative history of the Fair Housing Act in undergrad.
Q: What program(s) do you work on at LCBH?
My time is spent mostly in the Tenant Advocacy Program. Most of my caseload is composed of eviction defense, with a minority of cases relating to affirmative lawsuits for illegal lockouts and Keep Chicago Renting Ordinance (KCRO) violation cases.
Q: How many cases are you working on at a time? How do you manage?
I usually have 30-40 open cases at any given time. I use our case management system and my calendar to schedule and document as many details of the cases as possible so that my mind is free to deal with the client in front of me.
Each year Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing (LCBH) hosts a legal intern through the Public Interest Law Initiative (PILI) Law Student Internship Program. The program connects law students from across the country with legal aid agencies in Illinois. Interns work part-time during the school year to help increase the impact of the agency and develop their legal skills.
This year, LCBH is excited to work with Adrien Fernandez. Adrien grew up in a suburb of Akron, Ohio and moved to Columbus to attend Ohio State University. She always wanted to live in Chicago so when she was applying to law schools, she mainly focused on schools in the city. She now attends Loyola University Chicago School of Law.
We sat down with Adrien for a Q & A to learn more about her.
Q: What was your major at Ohio State?
A: I double majored in History and Spanish.
Q: What inspired you to attend Law School?
A: While at Ohio State, I became interested in working for the government but I was not sure in what capacity. During my senior year, I had an internship with the Ohio Public Defender’s Office in their Death Penalty Division. I enjoyed the work and thought that what the attorneys did there was admirable. This really cemented for me that I wanted to work for the public and becoming an attorney was a way I could do that.
LCBH held it's 35th Annual Benefit: Healthy, Happy & Housed on Tuesday, November 10, 2015. It was terrific to spend time with our friends and allies, old and new!
We heard firsthand from Mars Caulton, a tenant whom LCBH helped when the apartment she and her son lived in for 10 years went into foreclosure. She called LCBH She found herself in a scary web of legal problems just by living in a foreclosed unit, even though she had always paid her rent on time. LCBH put together a team of professionals to help her and her son through a very difficult ordeal and produced an outcome that looked much different than the harsh reality for most renters who must attend court without representation.
We also introduced our new Medical-Legal Partnership in collaboration with Loretto Hospital and PCC Community Wellness Center that brings medical providers and attorneys together to provide a continuum of care for low-income renters who disproportionately fail in their compliance with medical treatment due to barriers that can really only be properly addressed through some legal assistance. Housing problems are among the most common issues that keep people from complying with their treatment or in many instances either causing or exacerbating their illness such as the cases involving lead, mold, and bedbugs. This model of service delivery is can revolutionize the outcomes for people by creating a lasting impact through an interdisciplinary approach.
At LCBH, pro bono is an integral part of our work. Our volunteers and interns give us the manpower and resources we need to do our work more effectively and to reach out to as many renters as possible.
Lawyers' Committee for Better Housing invites you to our 35th Annual Benefit.
HEALTHY, HAPPY & HOUSED
Tuesday, November 10, 2015
5:30 - 7:30 pm
77 West Wacker,
Join LCBH for an intimate gathering of mingling and fundraising, while enjoying an array of hors d’oeuvres and open bar all to support a great cause. Help us as we highlight the exceptional achievements over the last year, from dedicated individuals and organizations who continue to keep housing in Chicago healthy, affordable, and safe for all!
With your support, LCBH can continue to provide free legal and supportive services for lower-income renters while advocating for the rights of all renters!