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Volunteer Newsletter

Metropolitan Tenants  Organization

Volunteer Updates 8th Issue October 26th, 2009

Great Job Volunteers! We have helped over 8,000 tenants on the hotline this year!!!

State of the Renter in Chicago

Dear Volunteers,

MTO recently released a report on the State of Renters in the City of Chicago.  MTO explored hotline data that has been compiled over the years, data that many of you have been instrumental in gathering. The report details trends and obstacles in Chicago’s rental housing over the past decade.  Hotline data was analyzed and then compared to statistics compiled by the US Census Bureau.

The key issues identified in the report are affordability, apartment conditions, and a shift away from multi unit buildings to smaller buildings, which are often owner occupied.  The first two come as no surprise, but confirms what we already know so that advocates and policy makers can validate this with hard data.  The housing marketing that renters now live in has changed due in part to the current economic status of the country.  Increases in foreclosure of tenant occupied buildings has dramatically increased along with owners simply not being able to upkeep their property due to lack of funds.  This report details many changes in the rental housing market.  Of the most significance are the shift to smaller buildings with less units, larger numbers of people paying over one third of their monthly salary for rent, and as mentioned earlier an increase in dilapidated conditions.

From 1990 to 2005 Chicago lost more than 125,000 affordable housing options putting a further burden on the rental housing market.  With this loss in affordable housing we are now seeing a shift from larger rental buildings to smaller buildings with fewer units that are owner occupied.  The shift to smaller buildings that are owner occupied has a profound impact by exempting those tenants from the Residential Landlord Tenant Ordinance.   A majority of tenants are spending over 1/3 of their income on housing, and many are spending over ½ of their income on housing.  This coupled with previous trends of gentrification, recent trends of foreclosures, and timeless trends of dilapidated conditions further stresses families with the burden of moving.  Moving is mentally and fiscally challenging, especially when families spend more to move than the net value of their belongings.

As economic trends continue to shift and pocketbooks get tighter, the state of the renter will only continue to deteriorate.  The Hotline quarterly reports for this year already mark a significant increase in eviction calls.

The State of the Renter report is a call to action for rental housing advocates here and abroad. The problems that renters are facing will not be solved overnight.  We have a long fight that requires organizing, strategizing, dedication, persistence, and most importantly PARTICIPATION!  If you are interested in joining MTO in these efforts please contact Rebecca about our upcoming Tenant Congress Meeting.  We have also begun a leadership development series, if you are interested in participating please let Rebecca know, 773 292 4980 x 223 or via email at rebecca@tenants-rights.org.

MTO Expands to the County

As many of you already know, the loss of affordable housing, the dismantling of CHA, gentrification and now foreclosures have been displacing tenants and pushing tenants into the suburbs, especially the southern suburbs.  As this shift has occurred, many people that need our help had moved outside of our service area.  This is why we have now expanded to the suburbs of Cook County! We have already begun counseling tenants in the suburbs, and we are beginning to organize too.   We will have a 1-800 number available to suburbanites soon and are hoping to set up a volunteer outpost in the south suburbs too.  If you are interested in assisting with this expansion or helping to develop materials, please contact Rebecca for more information, at 773 292 4980 x 223 or via email at rebecca@tenants-rights.org.

Volunteers Needed!

In order to keep serving tenants we need your help to make a difference.  Please contact Rebecca to set up a time to come in.  We will also be having another hotline training on Saturday, November 7th, please contact Rebecca for more info, 773 292 4980 x 223 or rebecca@tenants-rights.org

Volunteer Appreciation Party!!!

We want to show you that you are appreciated, so please come enjoy pizza on us!  Even if you haven’t been in for awhile, we still want to see you J We will also have a dynamic discussion on how to further our mission of educating, empowering, and organizing tenants.

Where: We are now at 2150 S. Canalport #2B2, Chicago IL 60608.  It is close to UIC and Pilsen . The closest main intersection is Cermak and Halsted, which is about a block away.

When: Thursday, November 12th at 5:30pm.  RVSP: Rebecca at 773 292 4980 x 223 or via email at rebecca@tenants-rights.org