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What Will Privatizing Evictions Do to People in Illinois?

What Will Privatizing Evictions Do to People in Illinois?

In Illinois, a proposed House Bill could change the eviction landscape forever if it goes through. HB5395 comes with a double-edged sword of injustice for Illinois residents being removed from their homes: it eliminates the “weather exception” currently in place, and it allows “any peace officer” to conduct an eviction.

The bill allows property owners to turn to “third parties” to enforce eviction notices if the sheriff fails to do so. This includes local police (who typically aren’t involved in evictions) along with private security companies, effectively privatizing the evictions process in Illinois. This has serious implications for public safety. If police are enforcing evictions, they’re not out providing public safety services, and if property owners are using private security services, people without proper training, bonding and insurance would be conducting evictions and could pose a risk to themselves and others.

Illinois’ weather exception mandates that evictions not be conducted when temperatures are lower than 13 degrees Fahrenheit. Under HB5395, this exception would be removed, allowing tenants to be evicted in all temperatures and weather conditions — people could literally be thrown out in the cold. This is an issue of particular concern for seniors, disabled people and children, all of whom are more sensitive to temperature extremes and inclement weather like snow and ice storms and heat waves.

This bill is the result of heavy pressure from banks and similar institutions, and it was introduced by a Republican legislator with land holdings in Chicago; to say that HB5395 is biased might be a bit of an understatement.

Illinois, especially Chicago, is facing an eviction crisis, like many other states. In Chicago, low-income neighborhoods primarily populated by people of color are facing one of the highest eviction rates in the country. In fact, two years ago, they asked for a moratorium on evictions to get the crisis under control. Evictions as a result of foreclosures or unpaid rents shatter lives, ruin families and can create devastating losses that take years to recover from — and the line between having a roof over your head and being out on the street can be tenuously thin.

The way the bill is currently written, it will only affect residents of Cook County, as it’s the only area with a population large enough to fall under the purview of the bill. Once passed, however, that could be changed with a stealth amendment later. Furthermore, other states may use the bill as inspiration to create similar pro-eviction bills, which could create a wave of legislation across the country that would similarly affect financially distressed homeowners and renters. That makes this bill especially worrying, particularly since tenant’s rights advocates are extremely concerned about how it may erode tenant’s rights in Illinois.

In a country struggling with a national housing crisis, making it easier to boot people from their homes is not the solution: finding an effective way to address the community problems leading to evictions in the first place is critical. That requires cooperation from landlords, tenants and legislators, and legislation like this won’t help the country find its way out of this hole.

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Photo credit: Fibonacci Blue.

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54 comments

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9:35AM PDT on Jun 16, 2014

We don't need more transients... Stop banks from foreclosing.

7:15PM PDT on Jun 12, 2014

TYFS

7:10PM PDT on Jun 12, 2014

this is horrible! privatizing leads to the worst of the worst for people. this is right up there w/the Supreme Court deciding whether corporations have the right to "practice their religion". !!

12:29PM PDT on Jun 9, 2014

Not good...., not good at all. We have a saying in Norway and that is " to let the goat guard the oat bag" I think you will see the same here..................

7:51AM PDT on Jun 9, 2014

Privitization is the dream of greedy people. Get in the pipeline and take a bigger cut for personal wealth, cut labor expense and cut down on accountability. Look at private prisons, and the human rights violations, and need to keep folks in past release times to maintain quotas. Disgusting.Do not encourage thuggish and disingenous bash at government which does have accountability built in at least..

4:56AM PDT on Jun 9, 2014

Noted. Thanks.

6:15AM PDT on Jun 8, 2014

This is a hard one to comment on. On one hand, if I was a land-lord, maybe paying a mortgage on a piece of rental property, and counted on the rental income from that property as income every month, losing that income from a tenant not paying his/her rent would certainly affect my own ability to pay my own bills. And I would want that person out of there. On the other hand, if is dead winter (13 degrees? That's way below freezing already) I would have a hard time turning a family out on its ears. Depending on the circumstances, I probably would have a hard time anyway (especially if it was a single mom with young children). I would be more likely to let them stay and take the hit, for awhile at least. One of my friends that was a social worker counciled me once to not take on the problems of those you are trying to help. If I had several families in that situation and it was costing me more than I could afford, then what? Go on a case-by-case basis? Some stay, some go? I know I will never be in that situation (never going to be a landlord), but I can understand the dilemma. Though I do think I would be present at all evictions to make sure nothing "thuggish" happened.

4:18AM PDT on Jun 8, 2014

Workable?

2:07AM PDT on Jun 8, 2014

Privatizing is going to lead to even more corruption .

7:09PM PDT on Jun 7, 2014

reminds me of an old saying , "if it ain't broke , don't fix it !" and I see they seem to want to change just one thing and why ? and of course you then create a very slippery slope and make it much easier to slide other , nasty changes in . without really making people aware of them .

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