Healthy and affordable housing for ALL!

Water damage in the restroom ceiling

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.”

Active leaks and water damage from the ceiling to the wall.

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.

Tenants Uplift Voices at HUD Tenants Town Hall 2019

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. 

Thanks for Rolling a Strike With MTO on Behalf of Chicago Area Renters

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.

MTO’s Eviction Prevention Specialist, Philip DeVon with Holli & Al DeVon- “Top Bowlers” at 2019 Bowl-a-thon

If not YOU, who? If not NOW, when? The change we seek, is in the mirror.

At MTO we believe you and everyday people are the leaders of change within community and our society. We are all reflections of the positive change our communities and systems need, in order to listen, feel, act, and meet the needs of those most impacted by inequity. Thanks to all MTO supporters and contributors for investing in change with your time, energy, money, and talent to preserve access to affordable housing.

It costs $20 to answer a caller seeking information about their rights via MTO’s Tenants’ Rights Hotline. It costs $250 to assist a renting family through MTO’s Eviction and Displacement Prevention program. Eviction can costs a family over $2,000 to secure new housing; the cost is extends to student success, employee performance, and an entire’s family wellness and peace of mind. Therefore, no donation is too small or too large because change requires investment, and we are grateful for every penny shared.

If you haven’t had the opportunity (or wish to give a little more) to move and shake the needle for housing equity and stability for Cook County renters with MTO- now is your chance. Click here to donate today. We are $2,500 away from our end of fiscal year individual giving goal of $35,000. Help us reach this goal by June 30.

MTO Spring Event was a Hit!

On, May 8th MTO held its Annual Spring Fundraiser “Champions of Freedom & Fairness”. This years’ theme paid homage to community groups and advocates working to advance housing justice. Awardees included, the National Public Housing Museum, Casa Maravilla Tenants Association, Kandyse McCoy-Cunningham, and Lifetime Housing Champion, Taft West. With the support of sponsors, donors, and members MTO raised $20,000 to support Chicago area renters seeking support and increase tenant stability to prevent homelessness. There is still time and opportunity for you to support tenant organizing and renter stability if you couldn’t join us last month at Masada Restaurant- click here for more information

Thank You to ALL our 2019 Sponsors

Diamond Sponsor- Related MidwesGold Sponsors- West Town Law Offices; Faith & Mark SpencerChicago Community Loan Fund
Silver Sponsors Community Investment Corporation (CIC)Elevate EnergyJoan Fenstersmaker Attorney at LawLaw Offices of Hall; Adams; Loevy & Loevy, Civil Rights, Law Firm; People’s Law Office;Viatorian Community of the Province of Chicago; Joseph Vitu, Attorney at LawThink Inc.Network-It-Easy ; Everywhere WirelessEverywhere WirelessLaw Offices of Berton N. Ring, P.C Lawyers’ Committee for Better HousingMichelle Liffick 
Bronze Sponsors– Law Office of David S. Morris;; Irene Dymkar, Civil Rights Attorney
Supportive Sponsor- Masada’s Restaurant

Bronzeville Residents Take A Stand Against Displacement

When tenants organize, great things happen! Their power gained and their power leveraged empowers them to affect qualitative housing change in their lives.
In the beginning of May, the tenants living on Drexel Boulevard contacted MTO about an invalid demolition notice posted on their doors. The notice essentially said that they had to move in 15 days and vacate because demolition work would start at the end of May-typical gentrification scare tactic. At the time of the call to MTO, there was stagnant sewage water in the basement and the lobby, the building’s elevator was in disrepair and rodents and roaches reportedly thrived in the units. A couple of ceilings were caving in and to top it off, tenants were not able to receive their mail because the front door was inaccessible-and some of these tenants needed medical supplies for serious health conditions. Providing little or no maintenance to buildings is another tactic some property owners use to push tenants out of their buildings.  
MTO and the Lawyers Committee for Better Housing was immediately involved and tenants received a workshop on their housing rights. Two weeks later, tenants organized a tenant association and change was already happening.As indicated on their demolition notice the management company (312 Properties LLC) sent a crew to start demolition at the building. The front lobby was demolished; they got rid of garbage bins, and tore out laundry room washers and dryers. The back porch stairwells were full of garbage and rats.
Tenants who at first were afraid just to meet and talk about their housing issues, were now indignant and outraged. They had gotten no notice from the work crew, there were no city issued work permits posted anywhere on the building. Tenants took immediate action! They flooded 311 and the management company with calls for two straight days. They got inspection reference numbers and most importantly got the city to stop the work at the building. The city posted a bright orange stop work sticker at the main entrance of the building. Illegal demolition has now ceased and the management company had created a lockout situation in violation of the Chicago Landlord and Residents Ordinance. The management company had no choice but to come out a meet with new tenant association and hear their demands. While problems persist, the building is now clean, the sewage problem is gone, the mail delivery issue is being solved, demolished walls now have plastic covers and the porches are now clean.  The association is currently negotiating relocation funds and a move-out timetable. The alderwomen got an urgent request for a meeting and they are prepared to go to the media with their housing issues. The tenants are prepared to fight back!From fear to courage, the organizing of tenants in Bronzeville is an example of tenant power against housing adversity. Chicago needs more tenants fighting back against inhumane property owners and their enforcement management companies.

You’re Invited to the Party

Get Your Tickets to MTO’s Spring Affair
as we celebrate
Champions of Freedom & Fairness


Wednesday, May 8, 2019 6pm-8pm
  Masada’s Restaurant, 2206 N. California Ave. (Lower Level)

Sponsorship Opportunities are Available (here)
General Admission Tickets $75.00
MTO Members only rate $65.00

Click here for Tickets

This years’ Champions of Freedom & Fairness Honorees

Thank You to ALL our 2019 Sponsors

Diamond Sponsor- Related Midwest Gold Sponsors- West Town Law Offices; Faith & Mark Spencer; Chicago Community Loan Fund
Silver Sponsors Community Investment Corporation (CIC); Elevate Energy; Joan Fenstersmaker Attorney at Law; Law Offices of Hall; Adams; Loevy & Loevy, Civil Rights, Law Firm; People’s Law Office; Viatorian Community of the Province of Chicago; Joseph Vitu, Attorney at Law; Think Inc.; Network-It-Easy ; Everywhere Wireless; Everywhere Wireless, Law Offices of Berton N. Ring, P.C Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing, Michelle Liffick
Bronze SponsorsLaw Office of David S. Morris;; Irene Dymkar, Civil Rights Attorney
Supportive Sponsor- Masada’s Restaurant

For general questions and info about sponsorship opportunities, membership status, ticket purchase, donations, and accessibility contact Aisha Truss-Miller, Development Manager (773) 292-4980 ext. 236 or aisha@tenants-rights.org

A Home for the Holidays, and Beyond

Caroline, a 73-year old retiree living on the western edge of Humboldt Park, is so grateful for MTO’s new Eviction Prevention Collaboration.  Caroline lives on Social Security.  On the third Wednesday of each month, she receives her SSI check and pays her rent.  Unfortunately, Caroline ended up in the hospital recently and suddenly couldn’t pay the rent.  Caroline informed her landlord that the rent was going to be late.  The landlord agreed and told Caroline could pay the late rent in installments.

When Caroline went to make her next payment, the landlord suddenly refused the rent and gave her a 30-day notice to vacate her home of the past 5 years by the end of December. The landlord further threatened her by telling her she was going to start showing the unit the very next day.  Frantic and not knowing what to do, Caroline called MTO’s Eviction Prevention Collaboration.  MTO’s case manager suggested that she talk with the landlord before writing a letter. The landlord said no, and told her to just “get out.” With help from MTO’s case manager, Caroline wrote a letter which reiterated the verbal agreement between they had made.  The landlord did not respond to the letter.  The case manager suggested she write one more letter and try paying rent when her next check arrives. 

This time the landlord accepted the rent.  Caroline was ecstatic.  There would be no court case. The sheriff would not be coming to her home. She would still have a home after the holidays.  You can make sure that Caroline and others like her continue to have a home by donating to MTO.

Every year there are more than 25,000 evictions filed in Cook County.  Many more are evicted outside of the court system. Thousands of tenants are displaced.  Their lives disrupted.  Their communities destabilized.  With your financial help, MTO can help stop evictions.  Donate now.