With the Illinois moratorium on evictions ended on Oct. 3, an Evanston Council member is calling for the City to receive early notice of potential evictions of Evanston residents and pass that information along to renters that they might have to vacate their buildings. 

Council member Bobby Burns at Oct. 4 meeting. (RoundTable photo)

Fifth Ward Council member Bobby Burns’ comments came during a discussion about gentrification and displacement. He and Mayor Daniel Biss had referred to the City Council’s Human Services Committee a proposal to create a subcommittee to address those larger issues. 

At the Oct. 4 Human Services Committee meeting, Burns said he could see Human Services Committee members working with the yet-to-be-formed subcommittee “to determine how we can prepare for the amount of evictions I think we may be looking at in the next few weeks.” 

He suggested those steps might include requiring landlords to provide the City with notice that they were preparing to take eviction action, so timing would be a part of the discussion. Throughout Cook County, the Sheriff’s Department serves eviction notices to tenants.

“Do we want [the notice] when the eviction is filed? Do we want it 30 days prior to the eviction? Do we want it after the court decides [but] before the day the eviction happens?” Burns asked. 

He told Committee members, “My concern is that I’ve had a few cases in the ward where I get a call the same day that someone is being evicted – right now, at that very moment – and they’re looking for me to respond and help.” 

With so little notice, he said, “There’s not much that I can do, that the Health Department can do, and that our partners organizations like [Connections for the Homeless] and others can do.” 

Responding, Ninth Ward Council member Cicely Fleming suggested the City might want to examine the landlord’s responsibility in such situations, too. 

“Landlords are supposed to register their rental units [with the City], and they don’t all do it,” she noted.  

“If a tenant is being evicted and they also are living in a not-habitable place, we want to make sure the landlord has responsibility there,” she said. 

She suggested that, with eviction notices going out, City officials could determine a plan for addressing the issue, including the staffing needed, and then reporting their recommendations to the full Council rather than bringing it back to the Human Services Committee. 

Emergency housing an expensive solution 

The City can do that, responded Ike Ogbo, the City’s Health and Human Services Director. 

However, he said, if the City were to provide alternative housing to address such situations, “we definitely need a specific or identified funding source to house individuals.” 

“The City has been housing a number of evicted people in hotels,” Ogbo said, “and that can get expensive, especially in situations where relocation is not achieved or not foreseeable. So these are things that we will have to consider. 

“And not only that,” Ogbo added, “I want us to be sensitive to peoples’ rights, but we also do not want individuals who want to take advantage of the policy.” 

Burns said another piece of his proposal is that the City furnish the landlord with information about the different homelessness-prevention programs available. The landlord would then be required to give that information to the tenant. 

Further, Burns noted that he had made another referral that called for the City to look at creating a Victim Services Fund, to pay not just emergency-hotel and related expenses, but other expenses that come up in emergencies. 

Fleming pointed out, though, that Burns’ second referral dealt with such displacement emergencies as those caused by a fire rather than an eviction. 

Bob Seidenberg

Bob Seidenberg is an award-winning reporter covering issues in Evanston for more than 30 years. He is a graduate of the Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism.

One reply on “With eviction orders on way, Council member Bobby Burns presses for greater notice to tenants”

  1. I am just wondering with all these evictions coming down the pike or so it seems why can we not get ahead of the problem? It would seem that the landlords may already know that people are already having trouble paying rent or the tenant themselves would know I don’t have any money coming in or not enough to pay current expenses so why not have some sort of hotline where people can call in at least anonymously first if they are feeling uncomfortable? In a country where we thought there was so much wealth, but we have covid, issues with jobs right now due to the pandemic, companies needing to retool as well as companies that have been shuttered. It seems, there is protection for the big guys as in the 1% and large companies, why are we not protecting as they say those least among us, ( which, by the way could be any of us at any time, some just comfort themselves with the fact that or maybe they did pre covid that they are not vulnerable because of superior attitudes due feeling entitled and being compensated at a much greater rate than most others on the planet).

    If we have more displaced people, and more people at risk not only is this morally unconscionable, but this will keep this pandemic and it’s home fires burning. Is this what we want? How does this make sense? Somehow we need to get ahead of this problem by making it okay and not canceling culture on those that need help. Asking for help and being vulnerable is a noble thing and it means you are strong not weak. Beyond that, anybody oh, that is any of us could need any kind of help at any time and why we think that life is a Hallmark movie or that people cannot talk about real things that are not a Norman Rockwell painting is destructive to society, not soulful and Scrooge like. Somehow some sort of amnesty marketing campaign allowing people who are in need to have a soft place to fall, a listening ear so that we can get ahead of this problem, raise the spiritual vibration, and end this pandemic. Without getting ahead of this problem and giving people a way out and a hand up we are screwed. And, it’s just mean. Who wants no safety nets? Nobody. Exactly. This is our one and only life. Why not try living backwards? In other words who do you want to be remembered in the end as? Like the famous milk campaign of got milk, how about, got loving-kindness and love? It can only be a win-win. If it’s win lose everybody loses. No exceptions.

    Some suggestions:
    1. Some sort of grant money for people having issues with financial hardship if they show proof of lack of income- it seems that since we just got 43 million from the federal government some of this money could go towards this
    2. Coordinating with other states where there is warmer while there were some of these people might be able to go
    3. Figuring out if there are places in town the people could go that would be in someone’s home that might have a separate entrance because of covid. There is a website that is international called http://www.couchsurfing.com and is like a free Airbnb. Another thing that could be done towards this end would be if people proved that they were covid free and were around it not many people, maybe community members might be able to host people who are at risk in exchange for a barter. There is a Community member Michelle Hayes who does Back on their Feet Evanston
    4. And then of course there is Northwestern with there 12 billion dollar endowment. Since they have been very good at asking little guys ( some of the least among us who are paying taxes) to pony up for taxes maybe this is something that they could help with

    Just staying as they say.

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