MTO Tenant Champion – Mr. Green

I was sad the day I learned that Mr. Green had passed.   No one can remember the first day that Mr. Green began volunteering in the MTO office but it was a while ago, before we moved to our current location at 1727 S. Indiana.  He first became involved with MTO because his HUD building was in terrible shape and he wanted to start a tenants association.  He threw his whole self into organizing the tenants, who then voted him to be the association’s president.  The tenants under his leadership gathered for monthly meetings, wrote and met with HUD officials, joined with other HUD tenants and even protested outside of HUD’s offices and in the end, the tenants won many of their demands.   HUD paid for the rehab of his entire building.

Mr. Green was so much more than president of Lake Vista Tenants’ Association.  He was a dedicated volunteer who always gave to MTO.  He would come to the office nearly every day to volunteer on the hotline, sharing his knowledge with thousands of tenants in need.  Mr. Green was in many ways MTO’s messenger.  His wheelchair was an MTO billboard hosting signs that read, ”Housing is a Human Right” or “Tenants Know Your Rights”.   He collected thousands of signatures in support of the Source of Income laws for Section 8 tenants.  He would pass out MTO know your rights flyers on buses, at rallies or in his neighborhood.  Sometimes I would ask tenants how they heard of MTO.  They responded, “The guy in the wheelchair gave me your number.”

For Mr. Green, it was MTO and the Cubs that stirred his passion.  He was so happy the year Cubs finally won a world series.  He came into the office with a huge smile on his face and said we did it.  After a few high fives coupled with some baseball gossip, he sat down to begin answering tenants calls for help.  There will never be another Mr.  Green.  To MTO and the tenants he helped, Mr. Green was a hero and a champion of tenants’ rights. by John Bartlett

The Power of Organizing

I went to went to Lake Vista Apartments almost three weeks ago at the beginning of September.  The building looked amazing.  Almost everything is new.  The first floor was WOW. I wished I had taken pictures of the building when we started because the change is incredible.  I would move in there, it looks so good.  Seeing the change reminds me of the power tenants have when they work together.

I first went to the building almost 13 years ago and it was a mess.  Lake Vista tenant Mr.  Green called our hotline because he wanted to start a tenants association.  Mr. Green believed in housing equity. He did not think it fair the low-income residents in his building should live in fear because of poor security.  Tenants complained of being robbed in the hallways and parking lot.  With MTO’s help, tenants formed the Lake Vista Tenants Association and elected Mr. Green as President.

His first step as president was to set up an all tenants meetings with the manager and the property owner.  At the meeting, Mr. Green laid out the tenants demand for 24-hour security.  While the owner did not agree to that, the owner did agree to install security cameras in the parking lot, laundry rooms and throughout the first floor.  Security improved.

Improved security was just the beginning for the Lake Vista Tenants Association.  The building was old and in need of maintenance.  The building had pests, mold, appliances and cabinets that were as old as many of the residents.  As President, Mr. Green made sure the tenants understood the RLTO and that they engaged with HUD, the holder of the purse strings.  Mr. Green and the other tenants testified every year at MTO’s HUD Tenants Town Hall.  The tenants association challenged the owner as well as HUD officials to take care of the problems and make the building better for the senior residents. In the end, the owner and HUD officials agreed to rehab the entire complex.

The $14 million rehab is complete. The tenants have new meeting and exercise rooms, new cabinets, remodeled kitchens, and it is all repainted.  Unfortunately, Mr. Green did not get a chance to enjoy the new construction of the building as he is with his Lord but I am proud to say he played a huge role in it. Organizing works.  By David Wilson, Community Organizer

The Fight for Human Rights is not on Winter Vacation

image3While many of us were revving up for the holidays, other Chicago residents were standing up against violations of civil and human rights across our city. On December 21, 2016 human rights organizers held a vigil in Ravenswood in front of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel’s home.

Coffins, carnations, and candles symbolized the deaths of affordable housing, shelters, mental wellness clinics, health resources, school closings and the 700+ humans whose lives were ended by gun violence, including unjust fatal police shootings. Demonstrators expressed that community violence is not a stand alone issue, instead it is interconnected to the institutional violence and oppression of our city’s historically racist, classist, and patriarchal politics and policies.

In the South Loop, public funds are currently being used to construct an arena for a private institution- DePaul University’s new athletic arena. Public lands which were once public housing sites like the Ida B. Wells housing complex in Bronzeville is now home to Mariano’s, after CHA and the city broke the promise they made to taxpayers and residents to rebuild the public housing they tore down during the Plan for Transformation (deconstruction of Chicago’s housing projects).

Screen Shot 2017-01-05 at 2.47.31 PM

Housing is fundamental to the development of healthy people, healthy families, and healthy communities. Housing is a HUMAN RIGHT! We DEMAND a stop to the death of affordable housing and the violent policies sustaining race and class divides and deepening homelessness, police brutality and state sanctioned violence, community violence, inadequate education, and economic disenfranchisement. We must treat housing as a human right, not a commodity! It’s time to pass the #KeepingThePromise Ordinance and protect public housing, not destroy it! Join us in the fight.
Authored by: Aisha Truss-Miller and Angelica Ugarte

Mientras muchos de nosotros nos estamos preparando  para las festividades, muchos residentes de Chicago están alzándose en contra  de la  violación  de los derechos humanos y civiles  que se practican a lo largo y ancho de nuestra ciudad. Este 21 de diciembre del 2016, organizadores de derechos humanos, realizaron una vigilia en el barrio de Ravenswood en frente del hogar del Alcalde de la ciudad de Chicago, Rahm Emmanuel.

Ataúdes, claveles y velas fueron los símbolos para representar no solo la muerte de viviendas accesibles, sino también la muerte de las clínicas de salud mental, recursos de salud, a clausura de escuelas públicas, y las 700 vidas humanas  cuyas vidas fueron cortadas producto de la violencia con armas de fuego, incluyendo los disparos fatales  perpetrados por  la policía, que se sospecha eran injustificados. Los manifestantes  afirmaron  que la violencia en la comunidad no es un problema por si solo, sino que está vinculado con la violencia institucional y la opresión de parte de nuestra ciudad que  históricamente ha practicado políticas y legislaciones racistas, clasistas y patriarcales.

En el “South  Loop” fondos públicos están siendo  utilizados para subsidiar la construcción de un estadio nuevo para una institución privada, la Universidad de Depaul. Terrenos públicos que alguna vez  fueron  sitios utilizados para viviendas públicas como por ejemplo el Complejo Habitacional Ida B. Wells en Bronzeville ahora  está ubicado  un supermercado Mariano, debido a que CHA y la ciudad rompieron  la  promesa que  hicieran  a los contribuyentes y a los residentes a través del Plan de Transformación (la demolición de los proyectos de vivienda de Chicago ) de reconstruir cierta cantidad de viviendas públicas y  viviendas  accesibles.

El derecho a una vivienda es fundamental para el desarrollo no solo de personas saludables sino que también de hogares saludables y comunidades saludables. El derecho a una vivienda es un DERECHO HUMANO Nosotros Exigimos un cese a la muerte de viviendas accesibles y a legislaciones  violentas  que mantienen la división de raza y clase aumentando  el número de personas indigentes, la brutalidad policial, la violencia autorizada por el estado, la violencia en la comunidad, la educación deficiente y la privación a los derechos económicos

HACC To Open First Family Wait List Since 2009

The Housing Authority of Cook County (HACC) will begin accepting pre-applications for the Ford Heights public housing wait list for (2) two, (3) three, (4) four, and (5) bedroom units at the following Family Development:

Vera L. Yates

1055 Berkeley

Ford Heights, IL 60411


The Pre-Applications will be made available on February, 9th. The HACC will accept up to 100 wait list pre-applications per each bedroom size unit. Click below to view qualifications, application locations and directions on how to apply. 



If you are anyone is your household is a person with a disability and requires a specific accommodation or seeks assistance with the completion of the pre-application, please contact the housing authority via the methods listed in the instructions, or call (312) 542-4786.
If you are currently experiencing issues in your apartment, click below to document and report them using

Senate Releases Funding Numbers for Homeless Prevention Programs

Action-Alert21Yesterday, the Senate HUD funding Subcommittee released and voted on its FY 2015 legislation. The Subcommittee’s proposed legislation includes only a $45 million increase for HUD’s McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants, which is $255 million below the amount requested by the President. This funding level would very likely not provide enough funding to make any expansion to programs and would not provide any additional funding for new projects!

Fortunately, the process is far from complete and we have further opportunities to encourage Members to provide additional funding for homelessness-prevention programs in FY 2015. Therefore, it is extremely important that we begin and maintain a drumbeat that reminds Members of Congress that this is the year!

Here’s What You Can Do:

1. Call your senators and representatives!

a. Ask to speak to the person who handles appropriations or housing issues. We can help you get this information, or you can call the congressional switchboard at 202.224.3121.

2. Tell the staff person their boss MUST provide more funding for McKinney in FY 2015!

a. Tell them we must continue making progress on chronic homelessness and need $2.405 billion in order to meet our goal of ending chronic homelessness by 2016.

We have an opportunity to educate and make an impact. Please seize this opportunity moving forward and work with your Members of Congress – all of them, from both sides of the aisle – to prioritize ending homelessness!

Report challenges tie between housing vouchers, crime: Chicago Tribune


Renters’ use of housing choice vouchers, more commonly known as Section 8 vouchers, long has worried communities that the arrival of voucher-holding tenants in a neighborhood will lead to crime and, eventually, lower property values.

That’s not true, says a new policy brief by researchers who studied crime patterns and voucher use in Chicago and nine other large cities over a number of years.

Read more here.

Chicago Tribune – March 29, 2013

Clergy Support Source of Income Campaign

MTO, Access Living and Progress Center Illinois held a Prayer Breakfast regarding the Source of Income amendment on January 15,  2013 at Pearl’s Place in Chicago.  Over forty pastors and community leaders from across the city and suburbs were in attendance to hear from Housing Choice Voucher holders about experiences with discrimination based on their income.

Currently, the City of Chicago already prohibits landlords from discriminating against voucher holders.  In the suburbs of Cook County, landlords can and do deny people housing solely because they have a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher.  The Source of Income amendment is a protection that would require landlords to consider renting to Housing Choice Voucher holders.  It would not force a landlord to participate in the program if the tenant does not meet typical requirements (i.e. poor credit rating, bad landlord reference).  The amendment would give people with vouchers the equal opportunity to housing.

On Thursday January 24, 2013 from 2-4 pm at Progress Center Blue Island, MTO, Access Living and Progress Center IL invite you to attend a Town Hall meeting discussing housing discrimination.  Come out and share your experiences with us, and help end housing discrimination and segregation.  If you believe in equal opportunity, join us and show your support.  For more information/transportation call us at 773-292-4980 ext. 224.


Renters Protest Oak Park’s Largest Landlord

On Thursday, December 13, 2012, more than 40 tenants and advocates from across Cook County picketed Oak Park Apartments’ headquarters on Chicago Avenue to protest the company’s refusal to accept Housing Choice Vouchers.  While it may be legal in Cook County suburbs to refuse to rent to Housing Choice Voucher holders, it is not morally right.

According to one Housing Choice Voucher holder that lives in Oak Park, who wanted to remain anonymous out of fear of retaliation, “I have been denied occupancy in countless properties including Oak Park Apartments, just because I have a voucher.  This is just not fair.  I pay my rent yet I cannot live in certain buildings!”

Adam Ballard of Access Living and a voucher holder stated, “Many people with disabilities rely on vouchers for their housing.  We want Oak Park Apartments and Cook County to end this legalized discrimination.   All we are asking is to be treated like anyone else.”

Currently, the City of Chicago forbids landlords to discriminate against voucher holders.  There is no such prohibition in Cook County suburbs.  Cook County Commissioner Jesus Garcia, is trying to change that and has introduced legislation that would amend the County’s Human Rights Ordinance to make it illegal to discriminate against Housing Choice Voucher holders.

After the picket, tenants went to Cook County Commissioner Earlene Collins’ office.  The group wanted to know why Commissioner Collins had not signed on as a supporter of the amendment.  While the Commissioner was away at the time, the group was promised a meeting with the Commissioner.

According to Shirley Johnson, Organizing Director of the Metropolitan Tenants Organization, “Section 8, Housing Choice Voucher Holders are stereotyped and therefore often forced to live in high crime, low opportunity communities.  The recent presidential election proved that it is a “new America” where diversity rules. A rental policy that refuses to rent to voucher holders is blatant discrimination and should be outlawed, especially in today’s modern society.”

Oak Park Apartments claims to offer “the largest selection of well-maintained apartments perfect for those who want to experience Oak Park’s architectural character, its excellent school system and vibrant and diverse village feel.”  However, they intentionally exclude Housing Choice Voucher holders from these opportunities.

Access Living, Progress Center and the Metropolitan Tenants Organization organized the protest.  The groups promised to return.  According to Adam Ballard of Access Living, “The fight for our rights has just begun.”

Rally at City Hall Against Proposed Demolition of 1,800 CHA Units

On Friday, October 12th, Chicagoans gathered at City Hall to protest the Chicago Housing Authority’s (CHA) proposed demolition of 1800 public housing units. Metropolitan Tenants Organization’s tenant leaders in conjunction with the Chicago Housing Initiative (CHI) led the charge against the proposed cuts.

“We need these units leased up not knocked down,” said Executive Director of People for Community Recovery and Metropolitan Tenants Organization (MTO) member, Cheryl Johnson. Ms. Johnson who is a resident of Altgeld Gardens, expressed concern about the more than 600 units slated for demolition at Altgeld Gardens. “This is about our future and ability to stay in our community,” said Johnson. “If they knock these units down, what’s to stop CHA from knocking the rest of our community down.”

After hearing from the hundreds of tenants outside the Mayor’s office on the 5th floor, staff for Mayor Emanuel’s office agreed to meet with coalition representatives to discuss the proposals for demolition. Organizers are hopeful the Mayor will intervene to stop the demolitions.

“The CHA exists for only one reason and that is to provide affordable housing to low-income residents,” said Leah Levinger, coordinator of the Chicago Housing Initiative. “The CHI coalition will continue to raise public awareness around the issue of leasing these units out,” said Levinger. “We are asking that Mayor Emanuel intervene to set the CHA back on track.”

According to the CHI, over 60,000 people are on CHA’s waiting list. This, in a time when Chicagoan’s incomes are down as much as 10%, and local rental rates have – over the past few years – increased by 14%. MTO supports CHI’s efforts to push CHA to lease out more public housing units and opposes the proposed demolition.

For more information or to get involved in this campaign contact MTO community organizer Noah Moscowitz at 773.292.4980 ext 236 or at

“No 8s: Should Cook County outlaw discrimination against Section 8 Voucher Holders?” Chicago Muckrakers article

Gale Riley had lived at 927 S. Wesley Ave. in Oak Park for three years when the new management company sent her a notice saying her lease wouldn’t be renewed.

Riley checked with other tenants in the building and found that everyone who was being asked to leave had one thing in common: they all paid their rent through a housing choice voucher.

Read more


If you support the amendment, sign the petition!

Learn more about the campaign

Get the facts:  Source of Income Protections fact sheet

Call the Cook County Commissioners – Tell them don’t discriminate against Section 8 vouchers!

(Phone numbers are available on the flyer below)

To get involved in the campaign, please contact MTO Organizer Noah Moscowitz- or 773-292-4980 ext 236