BUMBLING BUREAUCRACY

Date: 
Sunday, October 1, 2017

PILI Fellow Prevents Homelessness

Rob Crawford, PILI Fellow

CVLS relies heavily on law students and fellows throughout the year, but often their time at CVLS is short and they can’t see cases through to the end. But once in a while, the stars align and a graduate fellow accomplishes something great. This is the story of Public Interest Law Initiative (PILI) Fellow, Rob Crawford, and his client, Maria.

Maria is a native Spanish speaker and a Lawful Permanent Resident with a housing subsidy through the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA). In June 2016, the CHA told Maria they were terminating her subsidy because she “did not supply evidence of her citizenship or eligible immigration status.” The CHA was actually more concerned about missing income information, but because of the way their letter was worded, Maria thought she was being terminated on the basis of her immigration status.

On her own, Maria brought documentation to the CHA and requested a hearing. She was told she did not need a hearing and, in October 2016, the CHA terminated her voucher for failing to request a hearing on time. Maria filed for review and CVLS accepted the case to negotiate a settlement. We assigned the case to Rob Crawford under the supervision of Staff Attorney Martin Cozzola.

Together, Maria’s legal team spoke with her at length about her case. Rob then drafted a settlement letter to CHA demanding full reinstatement. His letter focused on the CHA’s poorly written administrative plan, Maria’s confusion concerning her termination, and the CHA’s failure to give her a hearing. After reviewing Rob’s letter, the CHA agreed to reinstate Maria and pay retroactive payments to her landlord! Maria’s housing situation is now stable thanks to Rob and his PILI Fellowship with CVLS.