As Chicago eviction filings rise, fewer lead to ousters

Filings on the rise as pandemic moratoriums end

Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing's Michelle Gilbert (Chicagobarfoundation, iStock)
Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing's Michelle Gilbert (Chicagobarfoundation, iStock)

As Cook County eviction filings creep back to pre-pandemic levels, officials say few are resulting in tenants being forced out of their homes.

The Circuit Court received 2,500 eviction notices in March, the highest since January 2020, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. That compares with 1,886 in October, when a moratorium was lifted, and 2,597 a month before the pandemic. So far this year, 6,701 have been filed, more than half of all of 2021.

Only 1,181 cases led to a court order enforcing an eviction from October through March, compared with 3,301 from October 2019 to March 2020. The South Shore, Chatham and West Woodlawn accounted for most of the orders, according to data from the Cook County Sheriff’s Office.

Michelle Gilbert, legal director for the Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing, said she encourages tenants facing eviction to attend court and plead their cases. “We can help get a better outcome,” she said.

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Many tenants can reach settlements with the help of rental assistance that’s paid directly to the landlords. While such programs are temporary, they’re expected to continue for some time.

“A lesson that we have to take away from the pandemic — it is better to prevent the harm than to try to treat it,” Gilbert said. “It’s much more expensive to try to re-house people than it is to pay rental assistance.”

[CST] — Victoria Pruitt 

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