The Chicago Department of Housing Announces Right to Counsel Pilot Program

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The Chicago Department of Housing (DOH) announced the selected service providers for a new program to help vulnerable renters facing eviction. The Right to Counsel (RTC) Pilot Program will provide legal representation at no cost to eligible low-income tenants at risk of or subject to eviction or lockout in Chicago. The RTC Pilot Program services will be provided through two legal aid groups, one led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing alongside Legal Aid Chicago and the Coordinated Advice and Referral Program for Legal Services (CARPLS); and the other through Beyond Legal Aid, both selected through a Request for Proposals (RFP) issued by DOH in November 2021. Both contracts will be awarded on a one-year basis, renewable for up to two additional years, at the discretion of the City based on the respondent’s performance.   The three-year pilot program, supported by $8 million of Emergency Rental Assistance Program 2 (ERAP2) housing stabilization services funding, will play a pivotal role in preventing and minimizing the disruption and damage caused by the eviction process.  To be eligible, tenants must meet all four of the following criteria:  

1. Have an income less than or equal to 80 percent of the area median income based on household size. 
2. Be a tenant currently residing in a property intended for residential use.   

3. Be part of a household in which one or more individuals have experienced a reduction of household income, incurred significant costs, or experienced other financial hardship during or due, directly or indirectly, to the coronavirus pandemic.  

4. Be part of a household where one or more individuals can demonstrate a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability.  

The Right to Counsel Pilot Program will provide the following services:  

• Evaluation of potential tenants’ eligibility for receiving RTC services, tracking those determinations and outcomes, and coordinating with the CCLAHD program to ensure as much as possible those most in need achieve a fair outcome in their case.  
• Providing full-scale eviction defense services, in court or out of court, to eligible tenants who meet prioritization criteria for limited scope or extended representation beyond the brief legal services already available to City residents through the CCLAHD program. DOH will determine prioritization criteria for extended representation in consultation with partners to maximize the impact of the RTC services.  

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