The Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign (“the campaign”) is a citywide organization that was founded in 2009 by Cabrini-Green residents and their allies to confront a wave of economically motivated evictions. Since its first eviction blockade in the Francis Cabrini row houses, the campaign has grown substantially both in the number of participants and in the breadth of its focus. While continuing to advocate for the preservation of public housing, the campaign also seeks to challenge the ongoing spike in tenant evictions and mortgage foreclosures in the private housing market.
Although the campaign’s focus has broadened over the past several years, what remains central is its mission of enforcing the human right to housing. Over the past year, the campaign sought to fulfill this mission by
working with public housing leaders in in fall 2011 to organize more than 30 Cabrini-Green residents facing eviction and ensure that they are provided with a high quality legal defense. This legal defense approach has not only led to three precedent setting legal victories, but also laid the foundation for the development of an independent eviction mediation team as a significant shift away from the authority’s “One Strike” eviction policy.
lobbying the Chicago Housing Authority in fall 2011 to initiate a pilot program that would open up 18-units of public housing to formerly incarcerated women, securing a precedent for the right of ex-offenders to return to public housing.
liberating more than eight foreclosed and abandoned homes on the South, Southeast, and West sides of the city as part of the Take Back the Land National Network.
conducting home liberation trainings for groups including Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation, South Austin Community Coalition, People United for Community Recovery, Occupy Chicago, and Communities United Against Foreclosures and Evictions.
launching Occupy Homes Chicago on December 6th, 2011 as a coalition of students, activists, community organizations and faith-based groups committed to providing homeless families with housing by liberating foreclosed and abandoned properties.
organizing families against foreclosure and post-foreclosure evictions through direct outreach, vigorous legal defense, and nonviolent direct action in Chicago and Joliet, IL. These efforts, including a successful eviction blockade on March 9th, have kept more than fifteen families in their homes and won several new mortgages.
helping to organize an August 9th public meeting with Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart and County Board President Toni Preckwinkle as part of citywide campaign for a one year moratorium on mortgage foreclosures and tenant evictions.
Each one of these milestones reflects the campaign’s strategy of building the power amongst and leadership capacities of those directly impacted by the ongoing housing crisis, particularly poor women of color. The campaign adopted this strategy out of recognition that progressive shifts in public policy have been driven by those directly impacted mobilizing and advocating on their own behalf.
Please describe the community you serve including demographic information. What are the major issues facing the community?
Although the campaign has been active throughout the Chicagoland area, it is primarily based in the Cabrini-Green housing development and the neighborhoods of the South Side of Chicago. As a result of years of racial discrimination, these poor and working class communities are primarily composed of African-Americans below the area median income. According to the surveys the campaign has in the Grand Crossing,Chatham, Woodlawn, Englewood and South Chicago neighborhoods, resident identify the major issues facing their communities as unemployment, housing, and poverty.
Describe how less-advantaged individuals participate in shaping and advancing your organization’s overall strategy as outlined above.
The campaign’s primary decision-making structure consists of an Executive Committee of volunteer organizers. Steering Committee members communicate on a daily basis and make decisions based on consensus planning meetings held every two weeks.
The campaign advisory board is made up of homeowners and tenant leaders, as well as attorneys and well-establish community activists.
The Chicago Anti Eviction Campaign in addition to community organizing,canvassing is also partnering with community development corporations to acquire bank donated properties for community controlled development.