Blog: LCBH News

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.

Board President Todd Maynes speaking at LCBH's 2014 Annual Reception

We recently sat down with Todd Maynes, Partner at Kirkland & Ellis and President of the Board of Directors of Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing to hear his perspective on what LCBH means to him as a long-time supporter of the organization. Todd cares deeply about housing issues and spends time creating awareness among his peers about the LCBH mission and garnering support to provide critically needed legal and supportive services that can prevent homelessness and promote housing stability.

On the LCBH board since 2008, Todd has donated time and numerous resources to LCBH including securing Kirkland & Ellis as host for the annual Hearts for Housing fundraiser for seven years running as well as selling enormous amounts of tickets for the raffle at the event. As we always say at LCBH, Todd puts the heart in Hearts for Housing!

Q: How did you first get involved with Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing?
A: I was on a business trip to Hawaii and my flight home was delayed. While killing time in the airport, I overheard a group of college students playing trivial pursuit. They were stuck on an answer. After inserting myself into their game, I quickly struck up a conversation with the students. One student was an intern at a non-profit organization, which was LCBH. We had lunch back in Chicago, she recommended me to the Board of Directors and, as they say, the rest is history…that was in 2008.

Daniela with her sons

Your gift to Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing is a meaningful investment in our very own Chicago community to ensure everyone has a safe, decent and affordable place to call home. You can take a stand to show support for families who are living in terrible conditions, or facing homelessness, with little or no access to the courts that are supposed to protect them.

I would like to share with you the story of Daniela, a strong, funny, and determined single mother of three sons, Alex, Gabe, and Tom. Daniela works over 45 hours a week at two part-time minimum wage jobs, making less than $18,000/year, trying to provide a good home for her family.

Daniela’s family had previously been living in a building that went into foreclosure. Even though she had been paying rent and had a lease, the family was evicted when the lender took over the building. Daniela was able find a two bedroom apartment in a modest neighborhood for $950/month, more than 60% of her gross income. It was not in her previous neighborhood where all of her family, friends, and children’s schools were located, and the apartment had problems that needed to be fixed, but it was the best she could find. Prior to signing the lease the landlord assured Daniela that all of the problems would be fixed, but when the fall’s cold snap arrived Daniela and her boys had no heat. After Daniela made numerous requests for heat, she received an eviction notice.

Why Pro Bono?

Our volunteers level the playing field by giving low-income renters a voice in court.

Volunteering as a pro bono attorney at LCBH allows you to make a huge impact in someone’s life without spending a penny. It doesn’t require a lot of time – even a little legal assistance can go a long way in improving the lives of our clients. Sound too good to be true? It’s not! Here at LCBH, we understand that and have worked to create new ways for you to support LCBH’s mission. When we all work together to level the playing field, we improve our community for everyone!

Here are just a few of the major victories our pro bono partners were able to accomplish this year:

  • Negotiated a cash settlement for a mother whose son suffered a concussion when the leaky roof in their apartment collapsed on him while he was sleeping;
  • Dismissed a case where a tenant was facing eviction because the property manager’s agent had accepted rent money and not turned it over to the company; and
  • Won a jury trial on behalf of a tenant who was being evicted in retaliation for making complaints about a property manager.

Pro bono also allows you to give back but in a way that works with your busy schedule. LCBH takes full advantage of the new rules on unbundled legal services to provide flexible volunteer opportunities to meet every schedule. The following outcomes were reached in 5 hours or less of volunteer time:

2014 Annual Reception & Awards Ceremony

On October 28th, LCBH presented our 34th Annual Awards. McGuireWoods generously hosted the event and their beautiful space was the perfect setting for our celebration honoring those who have made exceptional contributions to help preserve the vitality, diversity and affordability of Chicago's neighborhoods!

We applaud and congratulate all of our awardees!

We thank Congresswoman Robin Kelly and Veeda Pryor for their thoughtful remarks, McGuireWoods and Geoff Cockrell for hosting us, our generous donors for sponsoring the event, and everyone who turned out to make the night so enjoyable. Thank you!

Speakers

Robin Kelly, Illinois Congresswoman (2nd District)
Robin Kelly was elected to represent Illinois’ 2nd Congressional District on April 9, 2013. Since taking office, Kelly has worked tirelessly to promote national safety and expand economic opportunity, sponsoring numerous bills to generate job growth and end senseless gun violence. Kelly’s first legislation, Improving Gun Safety Standards Act, a common sense reform bill, would allow the Consumer Product Safety Commission to issue safety standards for guns and ammunition that will help reduce gun-related deaths. As a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Kelly currently serves on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, the Economic Growth, Job Creation, and Regulatory Affairs and the National Security Subcommittee.

2014 Annual Reception and Awards Ceremony

Join LCBH on October 28, 2014 as we welcome keynote speaker Illinois Congresswoman Robin Kelly, as well as celebrate and honor those who have made exceptional contributions to help preserve the vitality, diversity and affordability of Chicago's neighborhoods!

Statewide Foreclosure Advocacy

LCBH’s Tenants in Foreclosure Intervention Project (TFIP) team has been working tirelessly to inform renters throughout Illinois about their rights and responsibilities when they find themselves living a foreclosed building. Renters who live in rural areas of Illinois are often unfamiliar with the court system and the foreclosure process and LCBH’s Tenants in Foreclosure Helpline may be the only legal resource available to them. LCBH is committed is to providing resources to those hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis throughout the state.

This summer LCBH expanded its travels to new areas in Will County and Western Cook County Suburbs. In June, LCBH staff attorney Aileen Flanagan met with Judges O’Leary, Thanos and Barrett of the 12th Judicial Circuit in Will County, who all agreed that LCBH’s foreclosure helpline and brochures will provide a welcomed resource for tenants in Will County who are in danger of losing their housing. Since meeting with the judges and other stakeholders in Willl County, the LCBH helpline has received an increase in calls from these communities. The resources are proving to be helpful to the residents of Will County.

2014 Annual Reception and Awards Ceremony

Join LCBH on October 28, 2014 as we welcome keynote speaker Illinois Congresswoman Robin Kelly, as well as celebrate and honor those who have made exceptional contributions to help preserve the vitality, diversity and affordability of Chicago's neighborhoods!

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.

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.