September 2016 eNewsletter

Fall is here and the leaves are turning, the air is cooling and the days are getting shorter.  But at LAF, we’re always working long days and at full speed, including sharing our September eNewsletter.

Just this month, the Board, YPB, and staff responsible for the Golf Outing had another great success on a beautiful fall day to raise funds and awareness for LAF’s mission.  Paralegal Lisa Hilleren is out in the city every day helping ensure people have access to the benefits they deserve.  Attorney Myka Held is helping clients like Shannon and Maddie keep their families together and safe from kidnapping and abuse.

We’re also looking back at our past, recognizing 30 years of an impactful housing legislation protecting renters from unscrupulous landlords, celebrating more than a decade of teamwork with residents of the Cabrini-Green Housing Development in a neat interactive digital timeline, and revealing our newly-published 2015 Annual Report.

You can read about all of those stories, and much more, in this September eNewsletter.  On behalf of everyone who does this work every day, and everyone who benefits from our services and your support, thank you.


2015 Annual Report

p01-cover-croppedIn the midst of LAF’s 50th Anniversary, we also must also pause to look back at last year.  The 2015 Annual Report is finally available, here and on our website.
In it, you can read about Marleita, whom LAF rescued from a con artist who had promised renovations on her home, George Ann, for whom LAF ensured custody of her teenage son Nic, and Reine, who was able to access Social Security Income with the tireless help of LAF’s Public Benefits Practice Group, and many others.
You can also see our list of major donors from 2015.  And if you haven’t had the chance to secure your place on that list for 2016, you can make a contribution online today.

50th Anniversary Retrospective: LAF and Cabrini Green

As we celebrate our 50th Anniversary this year, we’re looking back over some of the most impactful work LAF has been involved in over the last half century.  Some of those cases have been on behalf of the residents of the Cabrini-Green Housing Development.  Check out our interactive retrospective on our website now!

Anniversary of Chicago’s Landlords and Tenants Ordinance

Today marks the 30th anniversary of the passage of Chicago’s Landlords and Tenants Ordinance, a landmark piece of legislation that governs most residential dwelling units in Chicago.  “Prior to the RLTO’s passage,” says Larry Wood, Director of LAF’s Housing Practice Group, “there was a significant imbalance of power between residential property owners and their tenants, and unscrupulous landlords took terrible advantage of this imbalance.”  Thousands of low-income tenants suffered the worst abuses, including deplorable living conditions, retaliation for complaining about such conditions, excessive late fees, unreturned security deposits, and lock-outs (i.e., evictions without authority of law).

Recognizing the need for legislation that would help them address these problems, LAF attorney Bill Wilen and Henry Rose, now a law professor at Loyola University, drafted the RLTO, and Chicago Alderman David Orr tried to get some version of this legislation passed every year after Harold Washington was elected Mayor.  Finally, on September 8, 1986, the Chicago City Council passed the RLTO.

“It withstood an immediate constitutional challenge from the Chicago Board of Realtors,” said Mr. Wilen, “and it leveled the playing field by giving all residential tenants, including those with extremely limited resources, fundamentally important rights and protections, as well as the means to enforce them.”  For example, the RLTO set forth rules governing the treatment of security deposits, authorized a tenant to withhold rent to address a landlord’s failure to properly maintain the premises, and prohibited excessive late fees, retaliatory evictions, and lock-outs.  It also imposed automatic financial penalties for violating RLTO provisions, and contained an attorneys’ fee provision to motivate lawyers to represent low-income tenants who have meritorious claims under the RLTO.

LAF is proud of its instrumental role in the RLTO’s passage, and of the way LAF and other tenants’ rights groups have used the RLTO to help thousands of Chicago tenants improve their living conditions and defend themselves against unprincipled and overreaching landlords.