The Wider Impact: LAF’s September eNewsletter

Each of our clients faces an important and unique legal problem, and LAF’s staff work every day to achieve the best outcomes for that individual client.  But we also try to focus on the wider issues we see in our client communities that prevent them from living safe, stable lives.  In this month’s eNewsletter, you can see some of these larger poverty-fighting efforts at work, including Michelle Gilbert’s quarter of a century working for fair housing, Lizzie Rosenthal’s incredible victory for the residents of Cabrini-Green, and the wider national effort toward building medical-legal partnerships.
As always, on behalf of the staff, the Board, the YPB, and all the clients we serve here at LAF, thank you for your generosity and support of our work.  When you invest in LAF, you are investing in making lasting change in the lives of people living in poverty and improving our community.  Check out LAF’s September eNewsletter to learn more.

Hospitals Partnering with Lawyers to Improve Healthcare

A wonderful video premiered on PBS NewsHour earlier this month, profiling medical-legal partnerships in Nebraska.  Medical-legal partnerships allow lawyers and doctors to work together to address the causes and consequences of illness and build a path to long-term health. For those living in poverty like LAF’s clients, health issues can trigger legal problems, and legal issues can exacerbate chronic health problems.

The doctor in the video explains:  “I ran a medical-legal partnership, and came to find that I could not practice medicine without that.  We are learning that we really are impacting health. So, if we can get somebody reinstated with their insurance plan, then they’re going to be able to afford to take their anti-hypertension medication and their blood pressure’s going to be improved. And who would’ve thought of that — that an attorney’s going to fix somebody’s blood pressure?”

LAF partners with many hospitals and medical systems across Cook County in these sorts of groundbreaking projects to use local data-driven approaches to improve health and fight poverty for the people of Chicagoland.  Watch the video here to learn more about this important work.

LAF Wins Big for Cabrini-Green Residents

Thanks to dedicated LAF attorneys and great pro bono help from Sidley Austin LLP, displaced families from Cabrini-Green finally have a hope of returning home.  That’s because a settlement was reached last week between the Cabrini Green Local Advisory Council and the Chicago Housing Authority.

This settlement concludes a 2013 federal lawsuit LAF filed on behalf of the Cabrini Green Local Advisory Council to ensure that the public housing residents would not be forced out of their north side neighborhood into high-poverty, segregated areas of Chicago.  The agreement results in preserving public housing in the Frances Cabrini row houses and an increased number of low-income and affordable housing units in new mixed-income developments on the Cabrini-Green footprint.  LAF Supervisory Attorney Elizabeth Rosenthal, lead attorney for the Cabrini-Green residents, states: “We are very pleased by this outcome, as it will return at least 1,800 units of public housing to Cabrini, allowing residents displaced by the demolition of the high rises and the closure of the Rowhouses to return to their neighborhood, and providing more affordable housing in an area with good access to public transportation, schools, and jobs.”

“This outcome is not only a significant victory for Cabrini’s residents, but also for fair housing broadly as it recognizes and reaffirms a commitment to providing public and affordable housing to Chicagoans in racially integrated areas of opportunity,” said Richard O’Malley, a partner with Sidley Austin LLP, who co-counseled the case.

The LAF team representing the Cabrini-Green LAC, led by Elizabeth Rosenthal, also included Director of Advocacy Richard Wheelock, Housing Practice Group Director Lawrence Wood, and Senior Attorney Lea Weems. The Sidley team was made up of dedicated volunteers Richard O’Malley, Steven Horowitz, Veena Gursahani, Rachel Goldberg, and LAF Young Professionals Board member William Bruce.

You can learn more about the settlement in the Chicago Tribune here, in the Sun-Times here, in this video from WTTW’s Chicago Tonight or in this piece from WGN Radio.  Please join us in congratulating our team and our partners at Sidley for this historic victory.

YPB Ambassador in the Spotlight: Chris Schneider

Right after LAF’s Golf Outing in 2014, LAF Young Professionals Board member Chris Schneider came to us and asked to help lead the efforts to plan the event in 2015.  Schneider, a Director in KPMG’s Forensic Practice, has been working hard since then with co-chair Joe Pedota to make the 2015 LAF Golf Outing the best one yet – the 2015 Outing will feature a fun app for golfers to track scores across the course, a few new contests and prizes, and lots of great swag in the golfer goodie bag.

SchneiderChris joined the YPB in 2012, after attending a few YPB events with a friend already serving on the Board.  “After seeing how passionate some of my peers were about LAF, and how much fun everyone seemed to have being on the YPB, I decided to join,” Schneider recently told us.  “I have enjoyed getting to know other members of the Board better, and becoming more invested in its success over the past few years.  Stepping into a leadership role on the Executive Committee this year, to plan the Golf Outing with Joe has been a great experience.”

We figured if someone volunteered to plan a Golf Outing they must enjoy golfing, so we decided to ask Chris a little bit about his background in golf:

LAF: How long have you been golfing?
CS: I’ve been golfing on and off since I was 17 years old.

LAF: Do you consider yourself competitive, or is it more of a leisure activity for you?
CS: I’m very competitive, but I have also accepted that I don’t play enough anymore to be as good as I was when I was younger.

LAF: What are you better at – putting or driving?
CS: Usually putting.

LAF: What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you out on the golf course?
CS: My most embarrassing moment is always a shanked wedge after a great drive in the middle of the fairway, and it usually happens at least once a year.

Chris, we hope next Monday you hit nothing but great drives in the middle of the fairway.  Thank you for all of your hard work to make this year’s event a fun and exciting day to benefit LAF.

Interested in getting in on the fun? We have a few slots left to fill! Get your last-minute tickets here!

Rights, Only if you have Money

Sometimes our clients can articulate the importance of our work better than we can.  That happened to our partners at Maine’s Pine Tree Legal Assistance this week.  Heather Denkmire, an artist and writer who lives in Maine and has struggled with poverty, wrote a column in the Bangor Daily News that puts a face on the sorts of civil legal issues our clients face every day and illustrates why providing them with legal help is so important.  She sums it up perfectly here:

The deck is stacked against people living in poverty as it is. The consequences when they dare to fight injustices are serious, not simply inconvenient. Homes, jobs, health and families are at risk for people in poverty who need help with civil legal issues. Fairness in the justice system should not depend on how much money someone has.

Read her whole column here.