CHICAGO RENT FREEZE NOW - HOMES FOR ALL

Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Governor JB Pritzker, Circuit Court of Cook County Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans

Rent_freeze_(4)

UPDATE 3/30/2020: The Chicago Tribune reports that the Chicago Department of Housing claims Mayor Lori Lightfoot cannot enact a rent freeze unless Illinois repeals its 1997 ban on rent control. In response, we call on Governor JB Pritzker to use his emergency executive powers to immediately repeal the Rent Control Preemption Act. You can contact the governor to demand he do so by calling his Constituent Affairs line at 217-782-0244.


We are in the middle of a public health catastrophe, during which everyone’s sole focus should be protecting themselves and their communities. But instead, many are worrying how they will pay rent on April 1st.

In a City where 51% of households are rent-burdened, one missed paycheck can mean a choice between groceries or rent, with a looming potential for homelessness.

Recently, the Circuit Court of Cook County  drastically scaled back operations for 30 days, but says that “civil lawsuits may still be filed in person or via electronic filing." It is unacceptable that landlords will still file for evictions during this crisis. Simply having your name appear in an eviction filing can drastically hurt your chances of finding new housing.

Tenants who know that missing rent could result in an eviction case on their record are more likely to go to work with symptoms and risk spreading the virus. Tenants forced to move face logistical hardships and a higher risk of spreading and/or contracting the virus.

The only way to slow the virus’ spread is to assure people that they will not be penalized for playing it safe. As such, we are calling for an indefinite freeze on collection of all rent, mortgage, and utility payments throughout the duration of the crisis.

In addition, we are calling on the Circuit Court to close all court filings for evictions and foreclosures, for the city to house residents experiencing homelessness immediately, and for landlords to grant automatic lease extensions to tenants unable to move during the crisis. Stable housing is a crucial element of individual and public safety, especially during a crisis like this.

These actions must be taken not for just 30 days, but indefinitely, for at least as long as a risk to public health remains. Government agencies have not acted honestly and effectively to prevent the pandemic from reaching its current point, and now the most vulnerable members of our society stand to pay for it unless drastic action is taken.

Chicago Housing Initiative Coalition
Centro de Trabajadores Unidos
Chicago-Kent College of Law Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild
Chicago Democratic Socialists of America
Chicago Teachers Union
Cook County College Teachers Union
GoodKidsMadCity
Illinois State Rep. Delia Ramirez
Illinois State Rep. Will Guzzardi
Jane Addams Senior Caucus
Lift The Ban Coalition
Little Village Solidarity Network / Red de Solidaridad de La Villita
Logan Square Neighborhood Association
Migrante Chicago
Metropolitan Tenants Organization
National Lawyers Guild, Loyola University of Chicago Chapter
National Lawyers Guild - Chicago
Neighbors for Affordable Housing
Northside Tenant Network
Obama CBA Coalition
ONE Northside
Organized Communities Against Deportations
Pilsen Alliance
Rising Tide Chicago
Rogers Park Solidarity Network
SOMOS Logan Square
South Side Workers Center
Tenants United Hyde Park Woodlawn
Únete: Little Village Community Development Committee
United Neighbors of the 35th Ward
Uptown People's Law Center
Working Family Solidarity

Email housing.atu@gmail.com to add your organization as an endorser.
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To: Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Governor JB Pritzker, Circuit Court of Cook County Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans
From: [Your Name]

We are in the middle of a public health catastrophe, during which everyone’s sole focus should be protecting themselves and their communities. But instead, many are worrying how they will pay rent on April 1st.

Governor Pritzker recently ordered all bars and restaurants to be closed for dine-in until March 30, leaving hundreds of thousands of workers in the Chicago area financially uncertain. Many more Chicagoans face layoffs and loss of income as workplaces around the country shutter to limit the virus’ spread. In a city where 51% of households are rent-burdened, one missed paycheck can mean a choice between groceries or rent, with a looming potential for homelessness.

Officials have taken measures but many points of vulnerability for both working class people and public health remain. Recently, the Circuit Court of Cook County has announced plans to drastically scale back operations for 30 days, postponing all orders for eviction or foreclosure. This is a crucial step to ensure renters and homeowners are not put out of their homes during a pandemic, but it is not enough to truly slow the spread of the virus and minimize the harm it is causing to our daily lives. The fact that “civil lawsuits may still be filed in person or via electronic filing,” means landlords will still file for evictions during this crisis.

The Cook County Sheriff has also announced a 30 day moratorium on executing evictions, but may still be serving eviction notices on behalf of the court. While court proceedings may be delayed, simply having your name appear in an eviction filing can drastically hurt your chances of finding new housing.

If tenants know that missing rent could result in eviction proceedings, they’ll be more likely to go to work with symptoms and risk spreading the virus. Moreover, tenants forced to move face a higher risk of spreading and/or contracting the virus, along with difficulty securing new housing, renting moving trucks, hiring movers, or finding volunteers to help. It is our responsibility to protect each other. The only way to slow the virus’ spread is to assure people that they will not be penalized for playing it safe.

As such, we are calling for an indefinite freeze on collection of all rent, mortgage, and utility payments throughout the duration of the crisis.

The freeze must operate as a waiver of payments, not a deferral in which people will find themselves saddled by debt after the crisis.

In addition to this principal demand, we demand that:

1. The Circuit Court close court filings for evictions and foreclosures, both in person and online.

2. The Circuit Court postpone all eviction and foreclosure related litigation.

3. The city move to house houseless residents in unoccupied buildings, hotels, and other unused living spaces.

4. Landlords grant automatic lease extensions for tenants unable to move during the crisis.

5. All of the above actions must be taken not for just 30 days, but indefinitely through the duration of the crisis. They should be in place at least as long as a risk to public health remains. Stable housing is an crucial necessity for individual and public health, especially during a crisis like this.

We must all do our best to limit the spread of this virus by avoiding large gatherings, reducing social contact and taking every precaution necessary. Government agencies have not acted honestly and effectively to prevent the pandemic from reaching its current point, and now the most vulnerable members of our society stand to pay for it unless drastic action is taken.