Ms. Bueno is a Pilsen resident. She became unemployed because of COVID-19. The landlord turned hostile and refused to negotiate a fair agreement, which would take into consideration her financial hardship. Instead, her landlord started harassing her. She called MTO to report the landlord shutting off her lights and gas.
A utility shutoff is a lockout, according to the City of Chicago Municipal code, so we instructed her to follow the City of Chicago’s lockout reporting procedure. She made a complaint to 311 and called the Police. The officers did not take the matter seriously and claimed the situation was a civil matter. As happens all too frequently, the officers did not follow the CPD Special Order #SO4-01-03.
It took a while for Ms. Bueno to get a miscellaneous police report from the police and a building code violation. She was able to get her utilities restored though this did not last long.
The utilities did not stay on for long. She called MTO again about another light shutoff and this time the landlord locked the breaker room access. We partner with the Chicago Tenants Movement (CTM) in order to create a more proactive response to lockouts. CTM sent a volunteer response team that included an electrician. The team was able to enter the breaker room and restore Ms. Bueno’s lights. The Chicago Tenants Movement response team took action when CPD and DOB would not. We need to push for proactive solutions to lockouts here in the City of Chicago.
Ms. Bueno is one of many stories of lockouts occurring in Chicago. Since the Eviction Moratorium began in March 2020, MTO has received reports on 574 lockouts. In a normal year, MTO receives about 250-300 lockout reports. The COVID-19 pandemic has only multiplied the already existing housing crisis here in Illinois. The lack of consequences from the police and building department allows bad landlords to continue the illegal lockouts as a way to dance around the Eviction Moratorium. As the housing crisis escalates, we encourage you to join us in pushing resolutions to lockouts. Contact Javier Ruiz at firstname.lastname@example.org to become part of the solution.