Blog: Supportive Services

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.

JaQuan (left) with LCBH paralegal, Eileen Mulrenin

LCBH recently had a huge multi-layered victory in the Attorney of the Day Eviction Defense program. A family in need was allowed to remain in their home thanks to LCBH attorneys and a third year senior law student’s strident advocacy at trial and an emergency grant from a great new LCBH partner to help the family recover from a financial set-back.

JaQuan is a single mother caring for her two children (ages 16 and 9) and her 63-year-old disabled mother. The family has lived in a property owned by the Chicago Housing Authority since 2001. In June of 2012, JaQuan’s social security income was reduced and she no longer had the means to pay her rent by the first of the month. She had a supplemental source of income, but she did not receive this money until around the middle of the month. After the change in income, she began paying her rent immediately after receiving her supplemental money, usually around the 20th of each month. The management company accepted her late rent for seven months until January of this year when they served a notice demanding that JaQuan pay her rent within five days, or her tenancy would terminate. JaQuan attempted to pay her rent, plus the late fee, but the management company refused her payment and filed for eviction.

Cokeitha and her son

We first met Cokeitha in May of 2011. At that time, she and her son were living with her mother and sister. Her mother was being sued in eviction court after a long dispute with their landlord over much-needed building repairs. Our legal staff was able to get the case dismissed, but the relationship with the landlord had deteriorated such that the negotiated settlement also required that the family move out of the apartment.

At the same time, Cokeitha’s father was also looking to move, so Cokeitha made plans to live with her dad and they found a nice apartment where they thought they would be happy. Given the circumstances, everything seemed to be working out fine, until suddenly and unexpectedly, a few weeks before they were set to move, Cokeitha’s father died. Heartbroken and grieving, she knew she was not able to afford the new apartment on her own. Her new landlord was understanding and allowed her to break the lease, but now Cokeitha found herself without a home. Cokeitha and her son stayed temporarily with family and friends, but not wanting to be a burden, she quickly found a very small apartment with a short-term lease for her and her son. A few months later, she found a better, larger apartment and has been living there happily ever since.

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.

This summer, LCBH is hosting its first student from the University of Chicago’s Summer Links program. This is another addition to the growing list of schools and programs that are sending students to LCBH to learn about Chicago’s housing issues and get real-world experience working with clients who are at high risk of homelessness without legal and supportive service intervention. Summer Links is an intensive 10-week, paid internship program for 30 returning undergraduate and graduate students committed to public service, community building and social change. Started in 1997 and sponsored by the Dean of the College, Summer Links has placed over 450 students in substantive internships with more than 200 nonprofit and public sector organizations throughout the Chicago area.

Summer Links challenges students to go beyond the classroom to expand their definition of “readings” to include relationships, interactions, and observations; and to confront one another’s perspectives and experiences. Summer Links’ interns extend the classroom to the community, put theory into practice, and then become their peers’ link to the wider community of Chicago once they return to classes in the fall.

Rejected

In 2009, Veeda, a teacher with two children, was living in an apartment building that went into foreclosure. During the foreclosure process, the landlord, dealing with his own financial problems, allowed the conditions of the building to deteriorate. Veeda found herself living without heat or hot water and mice had infested her unit. After several weeks of unsuccessful attempts at contacting her landlord to have the problems fixed, she began to withhold rent.

LCBH accepted Veeda’s case in November of 2009, and our diligent legal team settled Veeda’s case the following January. The agreement we reached waived all back rent (the rent Veeda had withheld), and stated that as long as Veeda moved out of her apartment by February 15th, the eviction case would be dismissed.

Unfortunately for Veeda, the eviction and back rent already appeared up on her credit report. As a result of this negative information, several prospective landlords would not rent to Veeda, and it took her a long time to find new housing. Most people know that a good credit report is needed to get a mortgage, take out a loan for college or a new car, or apply for a credit card. Yet many do not realize is that landlords often perform credit checks as part of their tenant screening process.

Since welcoming our first three interns in 2006 into our Supportive Service program, LCBH has been host to dozens of students, including the ten interns working with us this year. One factor that makes LCBH’s Supportive Services program so successful is the partnerships we have developed with social work internship programs in Chicago and the greater Midwest.

Our first partnership began seven years ago with the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration (SSA) program. Since then our internship partnerships have expanded to include the Masters in Social Work (MSW) program at the University of Illinois at Chicago as well as undergraduate programs in social work or sociology at schools such as North Park University here in Chicago and Valparaiso University in Indiana. We also partner with two “immersion” programs: the Chicago Center for Urban Life and Culture and the Associated Colleges of the Midwest Urban Studies Program. Students participating in these programs come from colleges and universities throughout the Midwest to live and study together as a cohort in Chicago. Part of their experience requires an internship at an agency that serves low-income people.