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.
This summer, staff took time to enjoy an afternoon of bowling at Timber Lanes bowling alley. 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. Congratulations to staff attorney Noah Magaram for bowling the high score of the day!
The fifth issue in a series of foreclosure reports prepared by LCBH chronicles the often overlooked story of how Chicago renters are affected, and often displaced, by foreclosure.
The impact of the foreclosure crisis on renters has been catastrophic and, despite a 37% decrease in total filings on apartment buildings for the City of Chicago last year, the report shows the disproportionate devastation that continues in particular neighborhoods. All 10 of the community areas with the highest number of units impacted by foreclosure in 2013 are located on either the South or West sides of the city. These communities have had an average of 21.2% of their rental housing units enter foreclosure since 2009 - double the city-wide percent of rental units affected.
With the fragmented geography of the crisis in mind, the 2013 Report offers a guide to place-based policies, strategies, and solutions, tailored to stabilize long-term affordable housing in the foreclosure crisis context.
The Illinois Attorney General, Lisa Madigan, and the Illinois Housing Development Authority have provided funding to LCBH, making it possible for us to reach out to communities throughout Illinois that have been affected by the foreclosure crisis. Although we do not offer direct representation to tenants outside of Chicago, LCBH is travelling throughout Illinois to provide legal information and resources to those areas disproportionately impacted by this crisis. We are visiting targeted areas which are often served by only one non-profit legal service, either Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation or Prairie State Legal Services, who are supporting large geographical areas in a broad spectrum of legal issues ranging from domestic violence and child support to defending termination of public benefits such as social security benefits. Often renters coping with the loss of housing due to foreclosure issues are unable to secure legal help. Our helpline may be the only legal resource accessible to people who live in more remote areas of our state.
LCBH is partnering with the Association of Corporate Counsel and the law firm of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius to host a day of pro bono training in late May. In-house attorneys from several Chicago-area companies will attend the program and learn about the latest developments impacting the rights of tenants in foreclosure. After the training, attendees will be able to volunteer with the LCBH Tenants in Foreclosure Helpline, delivering one-on-one legal advice and counseling services for tenants whose buildings have gone into foreclosure.
LCBH offers trainings and presentations on a number of issues affecting renters including renters’ rights, foreclosure, and fair housing. Trainings are designed for specific audiences to provide pertinent information. Whether you are an attorney, housing advocate, social worker, community organizer, landlord, or renter, our trainings will provide you with valuable and useful information.
If you’re interested in scheduling a training or presentation, please contact us at (312) 347-7600 for more information.
With last year’s passage of Chicago’s Protecting Tenants in Foreclosed Rental Property Ordinance and Illinois Public Act 098-0514, both of which amend foreclosure law, LCBH staff members have been busy updating our foreclosure materials. The most notable and sought after of these are our foreclosure brochures for both statewide renters and those living in the City of Chicago.
The updated brochures include crucial explanations of the rights and responsibilities of renters who are living in a foreclosed property. The brochures provide introductions to the new legal protections under the relevant laws, as well as a brief self-help guide to understanding the legal timeline of a foreclosure and how to determine whether a foreclosure has taken place. Most importantly, the brochures contain contact information for LCBH’s Tenants in Foreclosure Helpline: Chicago: (312) 784-3507. Both brochures are available in English and Spanish. The Chicago version of the brochure is also available online in Chinese and Polish.
The brochures provide an excellent first-step guide for renters, offering information to foster understanding of the often mystifying foreclosure process. LCBH is confident these updated materials will play a key role in our outreach efforts throughout Chicago and across Illinois.
On March 7th, LCBH’s Young Professionals Board presented our 9th annual Hearts for Housing fundraiser. Kirkland & Ellis has generously hosted this event for the last five years and they really outdo themselves in support of safe and decent housing in Chicago. Their beautiful conference space was bursting with a sold-out crowd!
A special thanks to the hard work and contributions of our Young Professionals Board, Board of Directors, sponsors, raffle donors, staff and to all who attended to make this the most successful Hearts for Housing event yet! It is truly amazing what can be accomplished when people come together to improve our community!
Over 230 people attended this great event and had a fantastic time playing cards to support affordable housing in Chicago! A diverse group of local businesses donated 62 quality raffle prizes—contributing to the most successful Hearts for Housing event in our history! With the tremendous support from all involved, LCBH netted over $90,000 that will go directly to program services that assist those most vulnerable in our Chicago community who are facing debilitating housing issues.
LCBH is primarily known as a Chicago legal aid agency, but with special funding from Attorney General Lisa Madigan and the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA), LCBH is able to provide foreclosure expertise throughout the state. LCBH staff members are often on the road raising awareness about the rights of renters caught up in the foreclosure crisis. Recently, LCBH staff travelled downstate to the city of East St. Louis to visit with elected officials, social service providers, and religious leaders.
At each stop, LCBH staff discussed the foreclosure crisis and how it has impacted each community and were able to provide information about the rights renters have when confronted with the threat of losing their homes as a result of a foreclosure of their rental property. LCBH outreach staff members were warmly received by city officials and civic leaders, state senators and representatives, and US Congressman William Enyart. Staff also visited the St. Clair County Courthouse in nearby Belleville to provide resources for the judiciary and the self help desks at the courthouse law library, and met with Judge McGlynn, who runs the foreclosure docket, and Judge Rudoph, who runs the eviction docket. Both judges responded very positively to LCBH materials and felt they would be a valuable tool in helping local area renters.
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.
Most people think of summer as a time for picnics, pools, and popsicles. For some of our dedicated volunteers, however, summertime meant pro bono time!
LCBH paired up with two different law firms over the summer to create pro bono opportunities for summer associate law students. Summer associates from Brinks Gilson & Lione and Jones Day worked with senior associates and partners within their firms to handle cases screened and supervised by an LCBH staff attorney. Each summer associate was able to work directly with clients to help resolve difficult housing situations through negotiation, motion writing, and their first court appearances.
We’d like to share one story that had a particularly wonderful outcome. A team of pro bono attorneys from Brinks Gilson & Lione represented June and her five children in an eviction court case. June and her family had lived in their apartment building, subsidized by the Chicago Housing Authority, for several years. The family had never had any serious problems with management, and June liked the apartment’s proximity to her children’s school. However, in the early summer everything changed when June received an eviction notice from her landlord. The notice accused June of (1) allowing a friend to stay overnight in the apartment for three days, (2) propping open the back door of the building, and (3) damaging the gate to the building.