Starting Over

When Maricela’s landlord stopped collecting her rent so that he could evict her for non-payment, she had to act fast! As a counselor at Spanish Coalition for Housing, Maricela knew that the landlord didn’t have the right to stop collecting her rent. She contacted landlord specialist Edward Skoda to educate herself about her rights as a tenant. As an expert on the eviction process and landlord and tenant rights, Edward was able to connect Maricela with an attorney from Chicago Volunteer Legal Services; because the attorney testified to the illegality of the landlord’s actions, the judge ruled in Maricela’s favor and the landlord agreed to waive the $1,800 back rent. “By having the attorney get involved,” Maricela reflects, “it helped the situation; I saved $1,800, we reached an agreement.” With the attorney’s support, Maricela gained two more weeks to move out.

Unfortunately, the process didn’t end there. Unsure of how to continue on her own, Maricela turned to Edward again. He showed her the apartment listings on SCH’s website. All the listings are from landlords who have been trained in city ordinances and landlord rights and responsibilities by the Chicago Bilingual Landlord Association (CBLA), and who, in Maricela’s words, are “definitely in the community.” For her, it all came down to convenience: “On the site, it lists the pricing… [and] it’s very easy to browse –I’m very busy, I have my full time job and my child.” Maricela found her new home and is about to sign the lease!

“I’m starting over,” she says. “It’s a tough situation. Everyone goes through it –even a housing counselor –it’s how you deal with it.”

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