Lead poisoning has been in the headlines ever since the Flint water crisis brought national attention to the problem. Chicago is grappling with its own lead poisoning crisis, which is hitting our youngest residents the hardest. Imagine if you found out your child had lead poisoning. No parent wants to receive that type of news. Now imagine that your two youngest children – twins – have elevated lead blood levels.
This is how we first met Ms. “W”. After a local health clinic discovered her children’s elevated lead blood levels, Ms W contacted MTO, and a Healthy Homes organizer conducted a visual inspection at her home. The deteriorating plaster walls had started to disintegrate. Half of the window frames had chipped, peeled, and cracked paint. A subsequent inspection by the Chicago Department of Public Health confirmed the assessment – there were high levels of lead in the entire unit.
Over the course of the next few weeks, MTO’s Healthy Homes Organizer provided a letter of support, collected visual documentation of the unit conditions, and shared resources for emergency housing assistance. While Ms. W. explored her options she received more devastating news, her three other children – all under the age of six – had also been poisoned. Now, her landlord was trying to evict Ms W and her family. When an unlicensed worker attempted to remediate the lead without proper safety protocols in place, MTO was able to get a city inspector to stop the illegal abatement, which was further harming her children. Ms W was partnered with a pro-bono lawyer to fight the eviction. While Ms. W. awaits to hear about a new apartment to move to she has expressed immense gratefulness for MTO’s assistance in her advocacy for safe and healthy housing.
But Ms. W wouldn’t have to experience any of this if Chicago had a proactive rental inspection program. The Chicago Healthy Homes Inspection Program (CHHIP) is a campaign lead by MTO to create just that. Hazards like lead, mold, pest infestations, and other asthma triggers can and should be caught before they become a crisis. The current building inspection system is a complaint-based service provided by city inspectors. This means that tenants hold the burden of requesting proper maintenance, property owners can neglect buildings without regular code enforcement, and families are forced to relocate or live with egregious conditions affecting their health. In today’s economy, moving is not always a viable option. We believe that the City should initiate a proactive inspection program that could identify home-based health hazards before they poison our children.
Chicago’s lead poisoning crisis is silently harming our youngest and most vulnerable residents. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) says, “no levels of lead is safe for anyone”. The CDC wants to eliminate lead poisoning in children by the year 2020. If Chicago wants to get serious about achieving this goal, we need to address the substandard housing that exists in our city and make lead prevention and remediation a priority. Our children’s lives are at stake.
MTO is excited to announce our continued partnership with the Chicago Community Trust through a 2nd year of being awarded CCT’s Housing + Health grant. Because of our supporters we are able to assist more Chicago renters and children with housing-health issues and organize for equitable solutions and policies that promote safe, healthy, and decent affordable housing for all. After all HOUSING is a HUMAN RIGHT!
If you or someone you know is in need of information about their rights as a renter or in need of assistance from our Healthy Homes Team contact MTO’s Tenants’ Rights Hotline, M-F; 1pm-5pm at 773-292-4988 or visit our offices M-Th 1pm-4:30pm.
All 4 Comments
I wrote about not being served or aware of eviction hearing I’m a tenant of the housing authority I am permanently disabled with very limited mobility I’ve been unable to work since 2012 the payments have always gone through the contracted landlord &hacc,my daughter was employed a few months at a fast food establishment part time I followed the rules notified about income somehow when she was terminated the housing specialist never submitted the paperwork that no one in household was employed so hacc doesn’t want to be held accountable for not doing their job so my rent portion was never adjusted since March 2018,I have no income I’m awaiting ssi now the hacc was trying to terminate me I appealed&the money owed isn’t my debt as I’m zero income the hacc was responsible to correct the debt but now as I explained I’m unable to explain or defend myself as the hearing was 11/21&i wasn’t served or notified of hearing,I can’t move out until hacc provides me with my moving papers&voucher,I’ve contacted so many agencies &people to seek advice or assistance but no response
I’m in the process of being evicted,I was never notified I received an envelope addressed to unknown tenants in which I threw in junk pile&didn’t open it until 12/4,hearing was 11/21,If there was a summons sent from the 6th district court I believe my landlord took my mail as I had no idea eviction was filed,I wrote to the clerk room 207 explaining the situation also providing hacc documents for my continued eligibility addressed to me at the same address they are claiming tenants are unknown,Clerk wrote advising me to efile however I don’t understand how &im permanently disabled so my mobility is a big issue trying to resolve this in person,My landlord has made false statements,harassing me,her husband represents himself as a cook County Sheriff wearing a badge,The only vehicle I had the landlord had towed saying it was abandoned she is a contracted landlord and I’m a housing authority tenant,I was trying to request an appearance so the eviction was not granted because I was never notified,I’ve been disabled 6 yrs the landlord has to go through the Hacc for any amount she’s claiming is owed,there is no household income my ssi case is still ongoing and payment is made through hacc&the contracted landlord I did not break the lease,It’s myself and four children that she’s attempting to evict and made false claims stating I’m concealed in Illinois &couldnt be served,I’m running out of time and I don’t understand the efile process if someone can please email me directing me how to request a hearing to defend myself &the proof that many months the home was in abaitment status&hacc will not pay if the home isn’t up to code please direct me who i can contact or how to proceed I’d greatly appreciate your time
I am in dire need of housing my house and complex refuse to go by my original lease took me to the eviction court but cannot put evection on my background I currently have an attorney for this situation going forward I would like to remain in the complex I live and it’s affordable for me and my family I have three children I have a three bedroom for 727 The landlord refuse rental help from a rental program by holding package twice and not updating it changing my lease removing the original from my apartment I need help to remain in the house I live in.
If you are working with an attorney, you should continue working with that attorney as this person will know your situation the best.