What’s New at MTO? Plus, Ways to Support Chicago Renters with MTO

Dear Friend,

Thank you for being a part of the Metropolitan Tenants Organization community.

While it was a difficult decision, our team decided to cancel the Annual Spring Affair which was scheduled for Tuesday, April 21st at 6:30pm because we care about your safety and well-being.

Although we won’t be gathering in-person, MTO has #5 ways outlined below to help raise $30,000 for our Tenant Stabilization Programs and Services as we work to prevent homelessness and keep low-income families housed. 

We are experiencing high call volume about threats of eviction, illegal lock-outs, unreasonable rent increases, and concerns about the lack of precautions in place to limit the spread of COVID-19. We are dedicated to giving Chicago renters the answers and support needed in real-time to stabilize their housing. If you or someone you know are having issues with their landlord or apartment call our Tenants’ Rights Hotline at 773-292-4988. For swift results get your answers and online tools via our app and web page here at Squared Away Chicago.

We believe that with your help, we can lessen the impact of coronavirus on our mission to educate, empower, and organize low-income renters about their rights. Thank you for your support during this challenging time for our organization and our community as a whole.

Sincerely, Team MTO

#5 Ways You Can Continue to Support MTO

#1. Donate Your Ticket(s) OR make a donation here to MTO’s Tenant Stabilization Programs & Services

While the Annual Spring Affair is cancelled and we explore ways to get together virtually, you can choose to donate the cost of your ticket(s) to benefit housing stability for low-income renters in Chicago. You can choose to donate here and or share the link https://bit.ly/39y69ey with friends and colleagues. If you seek a refund contact Aisha-  aisha@tenants-rights.org.

 #2. Make your online purchases through Amazon Smiles.

MTO supports human rights. We stand in solidarity with labor movements for access and justice, like Amazon workers in Chicago who organized and won PTO for all workers. Our constituents who are Amazon shoppers can choose to shop https://smile.amazon.com/ and reply “Metropolitan Tenants Organization’ when asked about your supporting organization. 0.05% of proceeds from your purchase goes to MTO. 

#3. Stay tuned with Chicago Renters & Housing Advocates via MTO Weekly E-Newsletter

Choose to read and share our weekly e-news alerts with stories about what Chicago renters are dealing with during COVID-19 pandemic, housing resources, and updates on our fundraising, housing justices campaigns, and policies. 

#4. Let’s See if Your Employer Will Double Your Donation

Right now, every little bit helps. If you’re able to donate here today, together let’s find out if your company will match your gift. 

#5. Join Us on Facebook Live  https://www.facebook.com/MTOchicago/We can’t gather in person, but we can still gather! Join us in upcoming fun-raising events and discussions on Facebook Live. Follow us on Facebook so you don’t miss it!  

Renters Resources during COVID-19

What You Should Know

(Updated on 3/30/20)

There is currently a mandatory state-wide “shelter in place” order

This executive order does not apply to essential services that you may need to leave your house for including physician visits, vet visits, grocery stores, gas stations, pharmacies, essential infrastructure and public transit. Read the full order here or visit the questions and answer page here to see if your industry is included in the list of essential services.

LEGAL ISSUES DURING THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

*For more info about a specific topic, click any headline below*

How to Get Help

To apply for unemployment benefits, click here.

To apply for Medicaid health insurance, click here.

To apply for SNAP food benefits, click here.

To apply for Rental Assistance with IL Dept. of Housing, click here.

To apply for Rental Assistance with the City of Chicago, click here.

  • Food Resources– The Greater Chicago Food Depository has been buying more food and packaging thousands of grab and go meals so families can maintain social distancing. The outreach team is also available to assist people who need to get connected to the snap program. Their number is (773) 8430-5416. Food pantry- Care for Real

NOTE:  All TANF and SNAP work requirements are currently suspended until mid-April, at least. Individuals who have a work requirement will not be penalized for not meeting at this time. You will be excused for “good cause” and will continue to receive your SNAP and TANF benefits

How can I get help from HUD or CHA?  

  • HUD is open for business but will NOT accept walk-in visitors at this time. They will provide services via phone/online while they focus efforts on serving people most in need.
    • Online: Click Here
    • Email: Send an email to: IL_Webmanager@hud.gov  (note: underscore between IL_ and Webmanager)
    • By Phone: Call your local office: (312) 353-6236

  • CHA is open for business but will NOT accept walk-in visitors at this time.
    • By Phone: Call your local office: (312) 742-8500

More COVID-19 Resources

City of Chicago Corona Virus Response Center

  • Food
  • Housing
  • Employment
  • Utilities
  • Frequently Asked Questions

Illinois Housing Action’s comprehensive COVID-19 Resources website

  • State, County and local resource lists
  • Situation updates
  • Information specific to renters who need assistance

Centers for Disease Control website

  • Downloadable factsheets and flyers in English, Spanish and Simplified Chinese
  • Health and hygiene recommendations
  • Travel guidance
  • Situation updates
  • Information specific to schools, workplaces, etc.

Illinois Department of Public Health COVID-19 website

  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Regularly posted updates on new cases in Illinois
  • Updated cautions and advisories
  • Recommendations specific to Illinois

Cook County Department of Public Health website 

  • Information for healthcare providers and communities
  • Detailed health and hygiene recommendations
  • Contact information for suburban Cook County
  • Information for individuals: Clean, Cover and Contain

COVID-19 INFO HOTLINES

Illinois Dept. of Public Health’s hotline: 800-889-3931 or email dph.sick@illinois.gov

The City of Chicago hotline: 312-746-4835 or email coronavirus@chicago.gov 

Other Tips for Chicago Renters

  • Talk to your landlord or property manager right now if you anticipate an issue paying rent. Put all your conversations in writing.

  • Ask your landlord or property manager how they are responding to the crisis and what they are doing to ensure residents safety. 

  • Call/text/email your neighbors, friends, and family, especially if they are Seniors.

Have a specific question?

CLICK HERE TO SEND US AN EMAIL

Working Remotely, Our Offices are Closed in response to COVID-19

To our community In order to protect the health and safety of the Metropolitan Tenants Organization’s staff, volunteers, members and community, our office are closed until March 30th.  More communications from our team is underway. Thank you for patience. 


We encourage everyone to follow CDC and Chicago Department of Public Health guidelines to limit social contact as much as possible.  


MTO’s staff and volunteers will continue to answer our tenants’ crisis line and to provide as much assistance as possible over the phone from our homes.  We promise to remain vigilant during this period of emergency to advocate for the housing rights of everyone.  If you need assistance, please call 773-292-4988 to reach our crisis hotline and leave message. 

Additional Resources on COVID-19
We understand the importance of timely, accurate and helpful communication to visit trusted sources of public health information,
including:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Chicago Department of Health
World Health Organization

The American Public Health Association has also released COVID-19 fact sheetsin EnglishSpanish and Chinese.

Introducing “Eviction Chronicles” – Chapter 1

What does the reliance on eviction say about our society? Every day we hear stories from the tenant’s perspective of a housing market gone horribly wrong. The result is trauma and harm to thousands of Chicago’s working families. The stories are not black and white. They are about life, good and bad habits, eccentricities, prejudice, and privilege. The following articles are the real life stories of Chicago tenants. We invite you to read, think about and debate why there are some 25,000 evictions are filed annually in Chicago. Is there another way? 

Chapter 1 – “Ms. Cat”

MTO first heard from the senior who hotline staff affectionately refer to as “Ms. Cat” in 2018.  Ms. Cat had just received a 10-day notice for violating the lease provisions around pets. She had two cats of her own, and often fed the numerous alley cats outside her apartment.  Ms. Cat can be a bit cantankerous at times. She loves her cats, they’re her family.  She was so concerned about the alley cats well-being that one day she left a trail of cat food from the alley to her apartment. 

However, others in the apartment considered the cats – and her actions – a nuisance. The cat food was attracting rats. Yet, Ms. Cat either would not or could not (as she put it) abandon her cats.  They were her life. Unfortunately, her landlord didn’t attempt to talk to her about a solution, and instead moved to evict her. With her home and housing subsidy in jeopardy, Ms. Cat was able to secure an attorney. For several months the landlord, Ms. Cat and her attorney negotiated. In the end, our senior who is living on SSI had to leave her subsidized unit as a part of deal to avoid eviction.

Ms. Cat’s story does not end here. Ms. Cat’s next destination was a homeless shelter that did not allow pets.  Every night Ms. Cat would try to sneak the cats into the shelter. Management found out and then the notices came.  Management served her with an eviction notice. In one conversation with Ms. Cat, she said, “I would rather be homeless than to give up my cats.”  With that in mind, Ms. Cat decided to leave the shelter and move to an SRO (Single Room Occupancy Hotel).

She then moved into an SRO, which is often a last resort for many of Chicago’s most vulnerable residents. Within a couple of months of moving, Ms. Cat was again running into problems with the owner and her neighbors. Her lease allowed two cats, but she was still trying to sneak more into her unit. Neighbors complained of an odor.  Ms. Cat said, “it’s not the cats, it’s me.  I can not help that I am incontinent.  It’s a condition I can’t control. It’s like cancer.  You wouldn’t evict someone for having cancer.”  The owner served Ms. Cat with a 30-day notice to vacate. Rather than fight the eviction notice , Ms. Cat decided to move in with friend. The expectation was that this would be for a short time. She was desperately looking for housing she could afford. 

With an eviction filing on her record and limited income, her housing choices were extremely restricted. Several months have passed since Ms. Cat last called. We reached out to her, but her cell phone has been cutoff. We also await her next call.    We hope that Ms. Cat has found stable housing and is getting the help that she needs. 

But her situation begs an important question: why is eviction always the first resort?

Save-the Date for Shining Stars for Fair Housing Fundraiser 4.21.2020

We are excited to announce MTO’s Annual Spring Affair: Shining Stars for Fair Housing will be Tuesday, April 21, 2020, 6:30pm-8:30pm doors open at (6:00pm), at Masada Restaurant located at 2206 N. California Avenue, Chicago, IL 60647. The event will celebrate trailblazers and budding stars working to advance fair housing in and beyond Chicago

Buy 1 Tix & Gift 1 Tix $130 (to tenant leaders, volunteers, and staff)

General Admission Tickets $75

MTO members $65

Do you believe housing is human right? Does your job, group, place of worship, or business seek to support community? If so, click here now and consider becoming a sponsor.

Aisha Truss-Miller, at 773-292-4980 ext. 236 or email aisha@tenants-rights.org

Become a Sponsor of Shining Stars for Fair Housing

We are excited to announce MTO’s Annual Spring Affair: Shining Stars for Fair Housing will be Tuesday, April 21, 2020, 6:30pm-8:30pm doors open at (6:00pm), at Masada Restaurant located at 2206 N. California Avenue, Chicago, IL 60647.

Shining Stars supports trailblazers and emerging leaders working to advance fair housing in Chicago, by bringing together organizers, advocates, and contributors for a night of celebration.   We hope we can count on your support to make 2020’s Annual Spring Affair one of our best events yet!

2020 Sponsor Opportunities:

Click here to learn more and become a PLATINUM SPONSOR $5,000

Click here to learn more and become a GOLD SPONSOR $2,500

Click here to learn more and become a SILVER SPONSOR $1,000

Click here to learn more and become a BRONZE SPONSOR $500

For more information contact Aisha Truss-Miller, aisha@tenants-rights.org or call (773) 292-4980 ext. 236

TICKET SALES:

Buy 1 Tix & Gift 1 Tix $130

General Admission $75 MTO Members $65.00

Tickets go on-sale Tues. 2/4/2020

Thanks for Making a Difference with MTO

MTO is tremendously grateful for members and donors like you.With your support over the holiday season we raised over $6,000 for our Tenant Stabilization Programs.

It’s not too late to make your investment towards housing justice with MTO

Your gift helps Chicago & Cook County renters to know and act on their rights through MTO’s core programs and services: 

1.  Building Organizing  * Tenant Association Formation & Growth * MTO’s HUD Tenant Committee  * Leadership Development
2. Advocacy Campaigns * Development for All * Homes for All * Chicago Healthy Homes Inspection Program * (CHHIP)Lift the Ban on Rent Control * Just Cause to Evict 3. Tenant Stabilization Programs * Healthy Homes * Eviction Prevention * Tenants’ Rights Hotline Services

Please explore MTO’s website for campaign updates, events, and opportunities to volunteer and/or donate.

Make a New Year’s Resolution to Keep Renters Housed by Supporting MTO

MTO wishes you cheer and a Happy New Year, as 2019 winds down. We appreciate the support of our donors, volunteers, and members. Your investment makes a difference. Thank you!


In 2019, MTO helped preserve 1,206 affordable housing units, prevented over 200 families from eviction, and provided assistance to over 15,000 low-income renting households. Our services, organizing, and advocacy are rooted in the rights of renters and a vision that everyone deserves access to safe and healthy affordable housing.  Making change requires research, learning and relationship building. It also requires time and money. For example, a $1,000 donation to MTO’s Eviction Prevention Program will help 5 families from becoming homeless or displaced. A gift of $250 allows us to inspect the home of a family living in health hazardous conditions. $25 covers the cost of a Tenants’ Rights Hotline call; 9,000 calls were completed this year. 


Donations of any size brings MTO a step closer to best serving our most vulnerable renters. Consider making a gift today to keep the movement for housing justice moving. Click here to donate now. Your donation will help MTO support housing stability for thousands of low-income renters in Chicago and Cook County.


Please make a 2019 tax-deductible, year-end contribution.  

Thank You to MTO supporters and volunteers on #Giving Tuesday

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. 

Click here to donate

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.


Click HERE for Demetrius’ story on CBS News