Cook County Legal Aid for Housing & Debt in Innovation Spotlight

Thanks to Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle and her cabinet Offices Under the President (OUP) for featuring the Cook County Legal Aid for Housing and Debt (CCLAHD) program for its Innovation Spotlight earlier this month.

The CBF worked closely with the court, the County, and a number of legal aid, case management, and community outreach partner organizations as well as other stakeholders to develop the CCLAHD program and continues to manage the program in partnership with these entities.

Through CCLAHD, we collectively have reimagined the court process for evictions and consumer debt cases to try to achieve three interrelated goals:

  • Create a fairer and better court process for all parties;
  • Level the playing field for tenants and debtors, and
  • Avoid preventable evictions and consumer debt judgments whenever possible.

While many other jurisdictions have expanded the availability of the critical resources of rental assistance and legal aid for tenants, CCLAHD is unique around the country in building those legal and rental assistance resources into a comprehensive and redesigned system where the court is an active partner.

Other unique aspects are that the court process and program resources are available remotely via Zoom throughout the County, and the program provides the same resources to small unrepresented landlords as we do for tenants.

While it is a constant work in progress, the program is showing real results, now providing legal and case management help to thousands of tenants and debtors each month and giving the court and all parties the time and resources to help reach the best resolutions possible for their cases.

While there are many moving parts for a program of this size and scale, thanks to the County, the Circuit Court, and all the partners involved it is really a model public/private partnership and has been nationally recognized by the White House and others as an innovative response to the eviction crisis.

A recording of the innovation spotlight is available here.