Thanks to everyone who shared their time, energy, and dollars with MTO for #Giving Tuesday. Your gift is an investment in the positive change our communities want and deserve.
A Generous Anonymous Donor will match total gifts for MTO from TODAY until MONDAY!
We are half-way to our #GT goal of $5,000. No gift is too small for housing justice, as we press on in our efforts to secure safe housing for the thousands of renters assisted by MTO. All proceeds support MTO’s Tenant Stabilization Programs, which work to prevent homelessness by securing the tenancy of low-income renters. You can make a world of difference through our tenant stabilization.
Last year, with the support of donors and volunteers, MTO served over 15,000 low-income households through direct service, community organizing, and policy change. And that work continued in 2019.
Early this year MTO worked with Demetrius Stewart, whom like many tenants had insufficient heat during a harsh Chicago winter. Demetrius reached out to MTO to better understand his rights so he could take action to secure a habitable unit. And it paid off. With your support, we can help more renters like Demetrius stay warm this winter.
Ms. Daniels had lived in a modest Auburn Gresham apartment building for over two years. And things had been going relatively smoothly for the retired senior. That all changed one day when Ms. Daniels came home from the Doctor’s office to find frost on the inside of her windows. Her heat was not working. She talked to her neighbors, who reported they too had no heat. She called her landlord, who never even showed up. Ms. Daniels didn’t want to cause problems, but she really needed her heat turned on. She is diabetic and was undergoing cancer treatment at the time, so the lack of heat was complicating her health.
Ms. Daniels called 311 to report her lack of heat, among other problems, like a leaking roof and holes in the exterior walls. Instead of sending someone to fix the problems, her landlord showed up and told her and her neighbors that they had to pay more rent or leave. They asked why, and the landlord told them if they want repairs they would have to pay up. This type of retaliation is harmful and immoral, but all too common for tenants who call MTO’s Tenants Rights Hotline. And that’s just what Ms. Daniels did when her landlord started refusing to accept her rent checks.
After calling and
speaking with a Hotline Counselor, Ms. Daniels was connected with MTO’s
Eviction Prevention Specialist (EPS). Because Ms. Daniels’ landlord had already
filed an eviction against her, the EPS knew time was of the essence, and knew
that while Ms. Davis had a “good case”, it could be very difficult
for her to win it on her own. She would need an attorney. With this in mind,
the EPS fast-tracked Ms. Daniels case to the Lawyers Committee for Better
Housing (LCBH). MTO and LCBH have formed a partnership to combat the eviction
crisis, deploying a new joint intake form and streamlining the referral process.
LCBH swiftly accepted Ms. Daniels case, and represented Ms. Davis in court, not
only winning the case, but also sealing the public record.
Today, Ms. Daniels is safe and recovering in a warm apartment – without the stain of eviction on her record – thanks to fast action and an Eviction Prevention partnership that works to address evictions proactively at their earliest point. Evictions are a scourge to our communities, deepening poverty and segregation, and must be addressed head on if we want to bring justice to Chicago’s working class communities and begin to solve the housing crisis that affects so many of Chicago’s families.
If you or anyone you know is facing the threat of eviction, please call MTO at 773-292-4988.
Tenants living in buildings owned by the Better Housing Foundation continue to experience uncertainty even as the City of Chicago building court system attempts to make rulings intended to improve their housing via appointment of limited receivers. Despite these decisions, sometimes tenant concerns can get lost in the shuffle. One such family – the Finkle’s – reached out to Amy de la Fuente, one of MTO’s court advocates, about mold, mushrooms and water damage in their unit. Mrs. Finkle hear about MTO when her neighbor attended building court the previous month After speaking with Amy, Mrs. Finkle asked her son to email photos of the unit conditions to Amy, who in turn shared the photos with the program officer from CIC in charge of the building. Mrs. Finkle, who is wheelchair bound, also encouraged her son to attend court on her behalf to speak about the conditions.
Young Mr. Finkle, who suffers from asthma, attended court. He met with Amy and prepared his talking points. When the judge called his building, he and several neighbors from the building stepped forward to ask questions and express their concerns. With Amy by his side, Mr. Finkle advocated to safe, decent and healthy housing for himself and his mother. The judge, city attorney and program officer all listened and asked questions. The judge granted the temporary receiver authorization to make repairs related to water damage and to relocate tenants as necessary. As he left the courtroom, Mr. Finkle turned to Amy, shook her hand and said, “Thank you. Thank you so much.”
MTO and their partner agency, the Community
Investment Corporation, have worked diligently for the past nine months to help
preserve affordable housing and keeps tenants stably housed in over 75 Better
Housing Foundation buildings. Their work, coupled with strong tenant advocacy,
like that of the Finkle family, has led to positive outcomes for residents
living in these buildings.
MTO and its allies in the Our Homes Chicago coalition, protested Thursday outside of 811 W Montrose, the site of a luxury development in Uptown that received $16 million in public TIF money despite opting out of the city’s affordable housing requirements. According to the Coalition, Alderman Cappleman received $36,000 in campaign donations from the developer, JDL, in exchange for arranging the TIF handout. It’s this pay-to-play culture of corruption that is driving the housing crisis in Chicago, causing massive increases in rent and property taxes, gentrification, and displacement. The Our Homes Chicago ordinances are a package of transformative affordable housing laws that would create inclusive, equitable development and the integration of affordable housing into all 50 wards.
City Housing Commissioner Marisa Novara committed Thursday that the City’s new Task Force to reform the Affordable Requirements Ordinance will consider the CHI Coalition’s Our Homes, Chicago Legislation. 25 Aldermen have urged the Mayor’s Task Force to take the Development for All Ordinance as the Task Force’s official starting point for reforming the ARO. We look forward to participating.
Metropolitan Tenants Organization’s HUD Tenants Town Hall took place on Thursday, October 17, 2019 at the Martin Luther King Center in Bronzeville with the support of Southside Together Organizing for Power (STOP). The Town Hall is an annual event hosted by MTO’s HUD Tenant Committee where tenant leaders have the opportunity to directly address their building concerns with key administrators from the Midwest Regional Office of HUD. About 100 tenants, community activists, and advocates for affordable housing preservation, attended the event where 15 speakers voiced specific maintenance concerns and frustrations with property owners, management, security, and their overall living conditions. HUD officers provided promises to investigate and remedy many of the situations within their capacity. Stay tuned for updates on the promises made to the people.
Two months ago MTO hosted its Annual Bowl-a-thon at Diversey River Bowl. More than 75 people participated in donating, bowling, and sharing their talents to ensure “fun” was key to MTO’s fundraiser. Thank you tenant leaders, contributors, supporters, staff, board, and volunteers for rolling a team strike! Together you helped MTO meet it’s goal by raising over $8,000 to support Tenant Stabilization programs which aids to prevent homelessness and displacement. Your contributions will assist with keeping 50 families in their homes this winter through MTO’s Eviction Prevention project, the latest addition to the agency’s Tenant Stabilization program efforts. Thank you, we are grateful for your investment in housing justice.
After 15 years of living in what could legally be considered a storage unit, Mr. Piper was served a 30-day notice telling him to get out his unit or go to court and face eviction. While most of us would not consider living in a storage unit, Mr. Piper, a Vietnam Veteran and victim of Agent Orange, did so happily for the last 15 years. He did this not only because he lives with a disability and it was the only thing he could afford on his monthly fixed income, but also because it allowed him to live in the neighborhood he wanted to live in, Hyde Park, Chicago.
Mr. Piper reported that his management company has changed hands five to six times over the last 15 years, and while conditions never improved, none of the other companies tried to put him on the streets. When he reported a bed bug problem to the latest landlord, two weeks later he received a letter terminating his tenancy. The letter stated that it was unsafe for him to continue living there, as it was not a legal unit.
Is this what the housing crisis in Chicago has come to? Where low-income tenants live in substandard housing, with an insect infestation, and without proper plumbing just to have a roof over their heads? Most of the renters calling MTO’s tenants’ rights hotline are fighting to keep their homes in neighborhoods where the rent is too high and/or repairs are going undone. Therefore, tenants make do with what they can afford, in a neighborhood they consider home.
While the management company did offer Mr. Piper a $1000 to be out in two weeks, he felt that it was not an honest or realistic offer, since they knew he had been there 15 years and that he lives with a disability. We also feel like the owners could have done more. Why not offer Mr. Piper another unit in the building, or more time to be out and relocation assistance? While we cannot fault them for closing what may be an illegal unit, we can fault them for retaliating by serving the notice only after Mr. Piper complained about bed bugs or for not looking for other ways to resolve the problem, not the least of which is creating affordable housing for all.