Moving Papers Mishap

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Housing Subsidy Restored by CVLS Volunteer

Terry (left) and volunteer Eric Vernsten (right) were pleased with the results

Terry depends on his housing subsidy to afford rent in Cook County. In 2015, Terry’s landlord lost the apartment to foreclosure, forcing Terry to find a new place. To transfer the subsidy, Terry had to get “moving papers” from the housing authority and submit them to prospective landlords.

Unfortunately for Terry, because of housing authority rules, he could only pick up and submit one set of papers at a time, and it all had to be done in person. Terry estimates he contacted over 100 landlords throughout his search – meaning he physically picked up and submitted moving papers over 100 times.

Terry heard the typical chorus of landlord responses to low-income renters: “your credit score is too low,” “we don’t take Section 8 here,” etc. The foreclosure concluded before Terry could find a place, and he started experiencing homelessness. The housing authority then decided he was taking too long to find a new place and terminated his participation in the subsidy program without a hearing.

Terry filed a pro se complaint for judicial review, and Judge Valderrama referred him to CVLS through the Access to Justice Program. CVLS argued the housing authority’s termination violated Terry’s due process rights. The judge agreed and ordered the agency to conduct an administrative hearing.

CVLS placed the case with volunteer Eric Vernsten. Eric helped Terry explain how diligent he had been in his search and that circumstances beyond his control got in the way of a new apartment. At the end of the hearing, the housing authority agreed to reissue Terry’s voucher!