Doubled Up: The Homeless Kids Next Door

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During the ongoing Chicago teachers’ strike much has been made of the over 16,000 homeless students in the Chicago Public School system. That large number is one of the linchpins in the union’s demands for additional support staff and a written commitment from the city government to follow their plan for increasing affordable housing stock within the city.

When your average consumer of news media thinks of “homeless children” they may picture a family or group of runaway children living in a shelter, or perhaps sleeping in a car or a motel. They might even picture that stereotypical family sleeping on benches or in cardboard boxes in the street. Some of you may think back to the stories from last winter of Candice Payne, the real estate agent turned non-profit director who rented hundreds of hotel rooms for homeless people sleeping rough during our run of terribly cold weather.

But this is not the case. The majority of Chicago’s homeless schoolchildren (about 88% of them) are living in a situation referred to by the federal government as “doubled up“. Yes, that’s an officially accepted term. It means that they’re crashing with friends or family, sometimes for months, sometimes for years. Continue reading Doubled Up: The Homeless Kids Next Door

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Kay Cleaves

Founder and owner of RentConfident. She's the primary developer of the website and research engine code. She's spent over 10 years working in the Chicago rental industry and has assisted with over 1200 leases.

Tort Reform or Gross Injustice? HUD’s proposed changes to Disparate Impact Discrimination Cases

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So this week I was going to have a nice little 10 list for you guys about the reasons why renters file complaints against their neighbors in apartment buildings. But that’s going to have to wait a couple of weeks because the US Department of Housing and Urban Development has decided to propose some changes the way they handle disparate impact cases. I really can’t post a 10 list when this sort of thing is going on or the Twitterverse will eat me for lunch.

Longtime readers will know that I try to take a neutral stance on most hot-button issues in a sort of infuriating way. This time is no different. Most of the articles I’ve seen are decrying the changes as hostile to minorities, and yes, that is definitely a problem. But I have been calling for tort reform in the area of landlord-tenant litigation for 13 years now, and have done so no less than five times so far in this blog alone. Having gotten my wish, even if it’s in a really icky area, I would be remiss to immediately take a stance either way without fully investigating the changes.

Now I know this may disappoint some of you, especially given the length of what I’m about to put out there, but I can’t give you my full take on the changes today. It’s too early in the process and there’s some missing pieces of data that I need before I feel comfortable making a judgment call. So I’ll have to follow this up with that information next week if I can find it. But I can give you some initial first impressions and an overview of the changes as I understand them. Continue reading Tort Reform or Gross Injustice? HUD’s proposed changes to Disparate Impact Discrimination Cases

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Kay Cleaves

Founder and owner of RentConfident. She's the primary developer of the website and research engine code. She's spent over 10 years working in the Chicago rental industry and has assisted with over 1200 leases.

The Missing Side of Eviction Studies

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Last week the Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing, a Chicago based nonprofit, released another study on evictions using Cook County data cross-referenced against census data. Their results can be found here. It’s a worthwhile study which is certainly of equal if not greater interest than the information presented by Eviction Lab, the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty’s PDF report on the interactions between eviction and homelessness, and Matthew Desmond’s seminal 2017 book on eviction.

These studies are all fantastic sources of data on the current U.S. eviction crisis. The researchers have all done some excellent work. But there’s a problem. They only focus on the tenant side of things.

A legal eviction is a five-party transaction involving landlords, tenants, judges, lawyers and the sheriff. It might also involve the police, the banks and the insurance companies as well. But for the sake of this article we’re focusing on the main missing party in all of these studies and data portals: the landlords. Continue reading The Missing Side of Eviction Studies

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Kay Cleaves

Founder and owner of RentConfident. She's the primary developer of the website and research engine code. She's spent over 10 years working in the Chicago rental industry and has assisted with over 1200 leases.

How to Find an Apartment without a Social Security Number

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I am trying to use simpler English for this article. I hope that this will make it easy for machine translators to convert the text correctly. I apologize that I am not able to translate it myself. To my English-speaking readers: the language I use here may seem a little strange. Machine translators read language in a different way than humans do.

We have posted six parts of this series for “unprotected minorities”. You can find links to the other parts at the end. This time I want to speak to renters who do not have social security numbers. Most U.S. citizens have a social security number. Many new immigrants and international students do not have these numbers.

The laws of the United States protect many people from being refused housing based on the things they cannot control. These things include their race, their religion, their age, their children and their disabilities. But the country’s laws do not protect people from being refused housing based on their immigration status. Some states have laws that do protect people based on their immigration status. Illinois does not have this sort of law.

Landlords like to check the history of tenants who want to live in their apartments. But many people have the same first name and last name. Landlords use the social security number to make sure that they are not reading the history of another person with the same name. They must use another company to look up the history. It is possible to use other numbers to identify a renter. But the history research companies do not always allow landlords to use other numbers. When a landlord cannot find the history of a renter they become fearful of the renter. They may turn down the renter. If you do not have a social security number you must learn how to find a landlord who will not be fearful of you.

I was a real estate agent for many years. I worked with many renters who did not have social security numbers. In this article I will tell you what I have learned from this work. Continue reading How to Find an Apartment without a Social Security Number

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Kay Cleaves

Founder and owner of RentConfident. She's the primary developer of the website and research engine code. She's spent over 10 years working in the Chicago rental industry and has assisted with over 1200 leases.

Why Are Landlords So Hard on Dog Owners?

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This past Wednesday was “National Love Your Pet Day,” one of many unofficial holidays which I suspect was created to drive e-card traffic in the early 2000s. The oldest online mention I could find of it was in an archived copy of the now defunct greeting-cards.com from 2003, when it hadn’t yet acquired the “National” moniker. (Yes I check these things, don’t look at me like that.) As much as I am dubious of the motives behind the creation of the holiday, there’s no denying that pets are important to a lot of renters. I figured that pets are both a topic I hadn’t addressed much in this blog and one that is far more enjoyable than the Chicago mayoral election.

There are few reliable studies about pet ownership. The few that exist are opt-in and performed with questionable rigor with an end goal of market research for vets, pet supply companies and emergency services. Mentions of pet ownership statistics for Illinois give numbers ranging from 51.8% to 68% of Illinois residents. Suffice to say there are more people with pets than there are pet-friendly apartments, particularly when it comes to dogs.

The problem of finding pet-friendly housing is not exclusive to renters. The Realtors to the Rescue program was founded by a Chicago real estate agent to handle the problem of pets that are abandoned when their owners move away. The prohibition of support animals in high density housing has been a recurring hot button topic in fair housing lawsuits for years, and those suits plague developments ranging from condo associations to eldercare facilities.

It is said that the first step in a battle is understanding how your enemy thinks. So for the sake of renters who are trying to find housing that will accept their pet dogs, here’s some things that may have caused a landlord to put dog restrictions in their lease. Continue reading Why Are Landlords So Hard on Dog Owners?

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Published by

Kay Cleaves

Founder and owner of RentConfident. She's the primary developer of the website and research engine code. She's spent over 10 years working in the Chicago rental industry and has assisted with over 1200 leases.