Three women with disabilities sue supportive housing program for discontinuing rent payments

Facing imminent homelessness, three women with disabilities sued a supportive housing program for formerly homeless people after the program stopped paying their rent.

The Law Project of the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless and Legal Aid Chicago allege a failure to provide due process and reasonable accommodations of their disabilities in a case that was filed November 27 in state court.

Kenora Roberts, Carissa Marshall, and Janice Johnson all have disabilities and are low-income, making it impossible for them to secure housing on their own in the private housing market. For example, Ms. Marshall, who lives with her two minor children, suffers from a traumatic brain injury and is permanently disabled as a result.

The women’s rent was subsidized by defendant Human Resource Development Institute (HRDI). Through no fault of Ms. Roberts, Ms. Marshall and Ms. Johnson, HRDI stopped making rental assistance payments in August 2019. HRDI’s failure to pay rent put the women at risk of eviction and facing homelessness yet again.

Ms. Johnson and Ms. Roberts landlords have both filed eviction actions against them. Ms. Johnson’s eviction case is set for trial on December 9.

Ms. Roberts told the Chicago Tribune that the prospect of being homeless again “feels even lower than what it was (before), because… you did everything that you were supposed to do.”

Chicago Tribune, Dec. 4: Formerly homeless people file lawsuit against Chicago agency after it suddenly stopped helping them

HRDI failed to provide sufficient notice and review before stopping the rental assistance payments, failed to transition the women to other supportive housing programs and failed to make reasonable accommodations of their disabilities. In a previous interview with the Tribune, HRDI blamed a loss of HUD funding.

“This is a systemic failure and all relevant agencies should work together to take responsibility and prevent our clients from becoming homeless again,” said Legal Aid Chicago Supervisory Attorney Michelle Gilbert.

“At this time of year, with cold weather approaching, we hope this case will prevent vulnerable people with disabilities who previously experienced homelessness from losing their housing yet again,” said Law Project Associate Director Beth Malik.

The lawsuit was filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County. Plaintiffs filed a motion for a temporary restraining order and for preliminary injunction Wednesday and will be in court on December 12.

– Patricia Nix-Hodes, Director, The Law Project

CBS Chicago, Sept. 23: Chicago housing assistance program loses federal funding, puts people’s housing situations in jeopardy