Marie P. came to the DePaul Poverty Law Clinic in January 2013 seeking help in connection with the Chicago Housing Authority’s decision to terminate her from the Chicago Housing Choice Voucher Program (the “Section 8” program) because her landlord accused Marie of having an unauthorized person and dog living with her.
The Poverty Law Clinic interviewed Marie, Marie’s sisters and Marie’s close friend, and learned that the person who was temporarily staying with Marie was her ailing mother who had come to Chicago from Florida in order to be closer to her children and to have her children help take care of her as she had recently suffered the loss of her leg. The dog, it was learned, was her mother’s dog which stayed at Marie’s apartment for a week before Marie relocated the dog to her daughter’s home. After conducting its due diligence, the clinic accepted the case for representation and three students, Sarah Hunter, Richard Halm and Erin Grotheer, were assigned to work with Visiting Assistant Professor David Rodriguez on the case.
The team concluded its case with an important theme: family members should be allowed, and encouraged, to care for one another in times of need, and that a landlord, like the landlord here, should engage in considerably more due diligence before making unsubstantiated allegations that jeopardize a person’s housing subsidy. The CHA administrative law judge agreed with Marie, concluding that the CHA failed to prove that Marie had materially violated her lease and the rules of the Section 8 program. The judge reinstated Marie to the Chicago Housing Choice Voucher Program and on July 25, 2013, Marie picked up her new voucher from the Chicago Housing Authority, which she intends to use to rent a home near her sisters. Marie thanked everyone at the DePaul Legal Clinic and DePaul College of Law for providing valuable services to people like her facing not only the loss of housing, but also the trickle down chaos that can ensue when a family member suddenly loses a home.
In the first half of 2013, the Poverty Law Clinic helped five other families avoid this chaos by saving their housing subsidies from wrongful termination. The clinic looks forward to keeping this pace in the second half of 2013.