With 50 years of experience providing high quality, free legal services to low-income Chicagoans, CVLS and its volunteers are often recognized for their outstanding work.

No Termination with Representation

Volunteer fights for reasonable accommodation

Stephen Murphy, CVLS Volunteer

Some CVLS clients desperately rely on housing assistance to keep from being homeless. Diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, Quentin has been receiving treatment, care and support for his mental illness for over 15 years. He is also a participant in the Chicago Housing Authority’s (CHA) Housing Choice Voucher Program, but he was recently at risk for termination for allegedly failing to pay rent. Despite Quentin telling the CHA about his diagnosis and habitability problems with his apartment, the CHA nevertheless found in favor of termination.

Quentin came to CVLS for assistance in filing his petition for judicial review. CVLS placed his case with Stephen Murphy, a first time CVLS volunteer who set to work trying to resolve the case as quickly as possible. After paging through hundreds of medical records, Stephen submitted a Reasonable Accommodation Request to CHA, detailing Quentin’s long-time disability. The request itself asked CHA to resolve any future issues with payment of rent or evictions by contacting Quentin’s mental health support team.

Sometimes you just need a helping hand

Irene Hickey Sullivan, CVLS PILI Fellow

Mr. Green was a participant in CHA’s housing choice voucher program until he was terminated in 2016 for missing a pair of appointments at CHA HQ. He also failed to request an informal hearing within a month and was terminated. He then failed to file a lawsuit within 6 months of being terminated and the SOL under the administrative review act had run.

Mr. Green is developmentally delayed and has spent the last two years trying to get back into the program by calling CHA. In the meantime he moved in with his mother who eventually helped him figure out he needed to sue CHA. The court referred him to CVLS through the Access to Justice Program.

Record-Setting CVLS Referral Saves Yet Another Home!

Eric Papier, McVey and Parsky

After his mother passed away, Hurlice inherited the family home. His siblings transferred their interest in the property to Hurlice, but unfortunately he fell behind on the mortgage. Although Hurlice was recognized as the sole owner of the property, the bank refused to review him for a modification and instead filed a foreclosure case against him. Fortunately, Hurlice’s case was assigned to Judge Loftus, who now holds a Foreclosure Division record for most Access to Justice (A2J) referrals to CVLS!

CVLS placed Hurlice’s case with volunteer attorney, Eric Papier of McVey and Parsky. Eric masterfully handled the assignment, and when probate issues flared up, Staff Attorney Matt Hulstein provided guidance. After months of review and follow-up, the lender finally approved Hurlice for a modification, and the foreclosure case was dismissed. Well done, Eric!

The Tell-Tale File

(with apologies to Mr. Poe)

Crazy! I am not crazy. You may think that I am, but I am not. Do not judge me until you have heard my entire story, for it is the truth.

It started out simply enough. I am a 4th year associate for a large Chicago law firm. My work in the real estate department, drafting and reviewing commercial leases, is enjoyable. I am a meticulous attorney. I am scrupulous in every part of my professional and personal life. I know that I am not crazy.

I cannot say how the thought first entered my mind to take a pro bono divorce case, but once I did, the idea haunted me until the pro bono office found an undemanding case for me to handle. I accepted their file along with their procedural instructions. I felt assured that I would be as successful with this divorce case as I am with my real estate work.

Welcome Lisa Murphy

Lisa Murphy, Guardian ad Litem for Adults Staff Attorney

CVLS is excited to introduce our newest family member, Lisa Murphy. Lisa will be working with Deepa Arora as a staff attorney in our Guardian ad Litem for Adults program. No stranger to CVLS, Lisa first joined us as a PILI intern in the summer of 2013. She caught the pro bono bug, and after law school continued as a CVLS volunteer, handling Guardian ad Litem cases. During law school, in addition to interning with CVLS, Lisa served as a staff editor of The John Marshall Law Review and interned for Judge Virginia M. Kendall of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. Once she graduated, Lisa was an associate attorney with McNees & Associates, LLC where she gained experience in residential real estate law, probate law, guardianships, and estate administration.

UPDATE: Race Judicata Update Site Change

Important Update as of 9/7/2018

Shuttle Pickup Location: 1 S. Dearborn St.
Shuttle Pickup Times: First pickup at 4:45pm, Buses will travel to event and then return to the pickup location. Buses run until 7:30pm. 220 runners max per trip.

We have 4 large charter buses (220 people per trip) hired for the event and they will start ferrying people to the field starting at 4:45pm. The pickup location is 1 S. Dearborn. The buses will load up passengers, travel to the field, and immediately return for the next load. The next pickup times will be based on traffic and how long it takes them to make the loop. Buses will run until 7:30pm.

Please note: Bus space is limited, so we strongly encourage our participants to continue to make their own travel arrangements if at all possible. Thank you in advance for everyone's cooperation.

Staff Dedication: Susan DeCostanza

Susan DeCostanza

This past December, our very own Susan DeCostanza was honored with Public Interest Law Initiative (PILI)’s Distinguished PILI Alumni Award. This is just one of the many awards Susan has been honored with and deserves. Susan has been with CVLS since 2010, working tirelessly to provide access to justice. She currently is the Director of our Adult Guardianship program and has been an invaluable support to our volunteers and staff alike. If you spoke to anyone who worked with Susan, they would sing nothing but praises about her work, her kindness, her mentorship, and her leadership.

Fighting "Tooth" and Nail

Volunteer Prevails in Housing Subsidy Battle

Laurence Tooth, Cozen O'Connor

At 56 years old, Timothy lives with his family in a rent-subsidized home in the middle of a high-crime neighborhood in Chicago. He’s done his best, for the past 15 years, to provide a safe environment for his two daughters and five grandchildren. But four years ago, without warning, the Chicago Police Department knocked at Timothy’s door with a warrant for Timothy’s son, an alleged gang member.

Timothy’s son did not live at the home, but he was visiting the family that morning. After conducting a search of the property, the police found two illegal weapons. The son was immediately arrested for unlawful gun possession, and he eventually pled guilty to the charges. When the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) learned of the son’s arrest and conviction, they terminated Timothy’s housing subsidy, threatening the rest of the family with homelessness. Timothy and his family had no idea that his son was storing weapons in the home.

Creative Manuscripts Kept Safe

Author Shows Unique Form of Gratitude

Elizabeth Peterson, CVLS Volunteer

Not all CVLS cases involve contested litigation or fierce courtroom advocacy. Sometimes, a client just needs a few documents drafted and some legal advice without incurring extraordinary fees. Donald, an 80-year-old author, came to CVLS with that kind of simple task: he wanted to make sure his possessions went to a close friend after Donald’s death.

With only a small monthly Social Security benefit as income, Donald could not afford the hundreds of dollars it would take to consult with a private estate planning attorney. Enter award-winning CVLS volunteer attorney, Liz Peterson. Liz met with Donald and agreed to draft the appropriate paperwork to accomplish Donald’s goals.

CVLS' Resident Foreclosure Divorce Team is at It Again!

Matthew Hulstein, CVLS Supervising Attorney, Access to Justice Program

Rob Zielinski, CVLS Staff Attorney, Child Rep Program

In our April newsletter, we told you about how CVLS Staff Attorneys Rob and Matt tag-teamed a divorce/foreclosure and helped a single mom, Archangel, save her home. Matt and Rob are at it again!

Crystal was the sole owner of her home and the only borrower on her mortgage loan. She was married, but the couple was separated and her husband had filed for divorce. Crystal fell behind on her mortgage and was soon facing foreclosure. Originally, the bank offered her a trial payment plan that promised a permanent modification after the trial period. She was thrilled with the prospect of being able to keep her home. Crystal followed through and made the necessary payments. The bank then sent her a proposed modification, with one caveat; the bank would only complete her modification if her husband signed the document. Crystal’s hopes were crushed as her husband refused to sign. Crystal had done all she could alone and had to watch as the foreclosure of her home continued.