LCBH
LCBH Volunteer Newsletter
 
In This Issue
Volunteer of the Month
Volunteer Reminders
Quick Links
Join our list
Join Our Mailing List
June/2009
Greetings! 

Summer is in full swing in Chicago - the weather is warm, the Taste is here, and fireworks are only a few days away.  At LCBH, the summer staff quickly have quickly settled in and become vital to our work across all programs. 
 
Though the interns and fellows have provided LCBH with valuable assistance, the work of our volunteers remains, as always, an integral part of pursuing safe, decent and affordable housing for tenants in Chicago.  We appreciate your help and were impressed by the turnout we had in June - the busy days were covered, we saw new faces and also some of you who had not been available for some time were able to make time for AOD.  We hope to see this trend continue into July and August!
 
Please take a few minutes to read the reminders for this month and our special profile on a great LCBH volunteer, Rachel Blake, and all the work she and LCBH Staff Attorney Mark Swartz have been doing as part of our Tenants in Foreclosure Intervention Project (TFIP).
Volunteer of the Month - Special Edition
Volunteer Profile:  Rachel Blake 
 
In each issue of the LCBH Volunteer Newsletter, we highlight one volunteer whose contribution to LCBH stood out over the course of the month.  This month, to honor her ongoing service and dedication, we put some questions to Rachel Blake, who is a relative newcomer to Chicago, but who has made her mark at LCBH, particularly through her work with Staff Attorney Mark Swartz, who heads our Tenants in Foreclosure Intervention Project (TFIP).
 
How long have you been volunteering with LCBH?
 
Since December, 2008.

How did you find out about us/why did you start working with LCBH?
My husband and I relocated to Chicago last summer so he could start a Ph.D. program here. I wanted to find a way to continue my involvement in housing issues and legal services. I found LCBH through an internet search.

Tell us a little bit about your background - your prior work and public interest experience. 
I've had a longstanding interest in both housing and public interest.  While working on my J.D., I also obtained an M.A. in urban planning with a concentration in affordable housing.  In school I had a variety of internship/volunteer experiences related to both areas.  I spent a summer at the John Marshall Fair Housing Legal Clinic and interned with a city planning office and with a city civil rights commission. As an attorney, I was involved in a project to launch an anti-predatory lending legal clinic.
 
I started my career in a smaller office of a large Philadelphia-based firm where I concentrated my practice on affordable housing/real estate. I also spent some time in a mid-sized firm with a broad real estate practice. 
 
In the spring of 2007, I joined Regional Housing Legal Services - a specialized legal services organization that provides legal and technical assistance to nonprofit organizations working in affordable housing and community development. As a staff attorney, in addition to working on a variety of affordable housing and real estate issues, I also worked on several nonprofit formations and 501(c)(3) exemptions.

 
What have you been working on at
LCBH
? 
In the first few weeks of working at LCBH I assisted with a variety of matters and was really just getting oriented to the issue of tenants in foreclosure.  At a certain point Mark (Swartz) and I began talking about the value that detailed data about tenants in foreclosure could bring to LCBH's work and the work performed by its community partners.   
 
For the last three months or so, we have been issuing weekly reports on new foreclosure filings on apartment buildings in community areas designated as NCP (New Communities Program) communities. These weekly reports include a map and address information for newly filed foreclosures on apartment buildings, the number of units impacted, when the foreclosures were filed, and comments on multiple filings by one lender (where applicable).  We are planning to begin expanding the scope of our neighborhood reports to include other neighborhoods that have expressed strong interest in working with us on the tenants in foreclosure issue. 
 
The reports are the first step. We've been getting information into the hands of the local organizations.  Now, we are working on two related issues: 1) maintaining a dialogue with a number of our community partners who we believe will help us generate a model for cooperation between community and legal services organizations to more efficiently tackle other crises in the future; and 2) analyzing our existing data to see if there are patterns that may impact our litigation work.  
 
What impact do you see this work having on tenants in Chicago?
The most immediate and obvious benefit is that tenants now have increased opportunities to learn that the building they are living in is under foreclosure.  We all know that far too many tenants are not getting appropriate notices. Second, when tenants come to LCBH early in the foreclosure process, LCBH has a much broader arsenal of tools to use. Third, the project will help LCBH and its community partners identify and provide alternate resources or referrals to tenants who may not be able to obtain legal representation from LCBH. Finally, we expect that our ongoing analysis of the data related to the tenants in foreclosure crisis, along with our continually evolving relationships with neighborhood organizations will enable us to support long-term efforts to discourage displacement, neighborhood destabilization, and loss of affordable housing.
Volunteer Reminders 
 
AOD
-  Please remember to let us know if you will be unable to make your scheduled morning.  We will happily reschedule you for another day.
-  July is wide open (and August too)!  Contact us to schedule your AOD morning.
 
Research
We have a list of topics available for those volunteers interested in helping out from the comfort of their own offices!
 
Start-to-Finish Cases
We like hearing from our volunteers!  So, let us know if you have questions about taking on a full case, if you are presently available to do so, or if you simply want some extra training before you venture into this territory.
Please stay in touch and let me know if you want to set up a training session at your firm, schedule mornings with AOD, take on other tasks such as a full case or a research project, and any other questions you may have related to volunteering with LCBH.
 
Thanks again for all of your help and dedication!  Feel free to contact me
- cewing@lcbh.org or 312.784.3530.

Sincerely,
 
Caitlin Ewing
Staff Attorney/Pro Bono Coordinator