CBA Record September-October 2021


Big Problems, Big Solutions, Big Opportunities L ast year, when the pandemic first upended life as we know it, repre- sentatives from Cook County, the Legal Aid Chicago: Helping Renters Find Stability and Security

work together to provide legal services through a countywide hotline and through twelve dedicated eviction and consumer debt court calls. Before, during, and after court, Cook County residents can get help finding pathways to resolve their legal issues. Since its launch in late 2020, over 8,000 people have been served through the program including over 1,500 people referred during court. Now, with the various moratoriums slowly lifting, the CCLAHD network of legal aid partners are calling on the legal community to step up and volunteer to support the program’s important work to help Cook County residents move past their pandemic-related legal problems. Pro bono attorneys can choose from several different flexible and remote-friendly CCLAHD volunteer opportunities, including those highlighted below.

As a CCLAHD partner, Legal Aid Chicago provides legal help to tenants who are experiencing housing instability and other related legal problems. Legal Aid Chicago’s staff attorneys and pro bono volunteers counsel tenants about their rights, identify potential defenses, and negotiate settle- ment agreements. While all the legal ser- vices provided through CCLAHD are brief in scope, they are significant in impact. For example, one volunteer assisted a single father with five children in negotiating a deal with his landlord that would give him the time he needed to secure alternate housing so he could move out with dignity and protect his children from the trauma of eviction. Volunteers with Legal Aid Chicago sign up for one-hour shifts in the morning or afternoon, based on their own schedules

Circuit Court of Cook County, the City of Chicago, the Chicago Bar Founda- tion, the Chicago Bar Association, and the Chicago legal aid community began brainstorming a collective response. As the pandemic wreaked havoc on families and communities across the county, the idea for Cook County Legal Aid for Housing and Debt (CCLAHD) initiative was born. Envisioned as a collaborative countywide effort to address housing and financial instability, CCLAHD was founded with the mission to provide legal aid, media- tion, and connections to rental and finan- cial assistance programs to Cook County landlords, tenants, creditors, debtors, and homeowners. One year later, CCLAHD is fully up and running. Eight legal aid organizations

22 September/October 2021

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