Joliet resident Summer Brand said that preparing to relocate her family from Fairview Homes has been a long journey.
“I just got the notice,” she said, noting she has not yet started her housing search. “The housing authority did it in phases. We were phase four.”
Warehouse Workers for Justice recently hosted its “Know Your Rights” workshop to provide residents a space to gain information and get answers to questions as it regards housing vouchers and public housing.
The program, by design, was tailored for tenants of Fairview Homes and Riverwalk Homes, both of which seek to relocate residents.
Attorneys were in attendance during the workshop to provide guidance.
“I wanted people to feel comfortable being able to ask questions, knowing the housing authority wasn’t right here to hear whatever they may be concerned of,” said Roberto Jesus Clack, associate director for Warehouse Workers for Justice.
The Housing Authority of Joliet first announced its decision to demolish Fairview Homes in 2016. Relocation of residents has already begun.
The Joliet City Council approved redevelopment plans for Riverwalk Homes earlier this year, but demolition and relocation have not yet started.
Clack acknowledged the work of Warehouse Workers for Justice and said the workshop serves as a new venture for the organization.
“Our main focus is on workers rights, but we recently became concerned about housing because they are closing down Fairview Homes,” Clack said. “They’re going to take down part of Evergreen Terrace next year. There are problems sometimes when you have a Section 8 voucher and getting a private landlord to accept that.”
More than half of those in attendance for the workshop raised their hands when asked if they have had a warehouse job.
Clack said there’s going to be many of these workers competing for rental housing in the city.
“We want people to be as well informed on their rights and taken care of,” he said.
Relocation and demolitions were among some of the topics discussed during the workshop.
“This is handled a little bit differently [between] Evergreen Terrace and Fairview Homes,” said Evan Stahr, a staff attorney for Prairie State Legal Services.
Stahr said that for those displaced by the two housing developments, there exists different types of relocation assistance, one is Uniform Relocation Assistance, another is Section 104 (d) Assistance.
‘They both contain moving expenses,” he said. “They both contain replacement housing assistance, which can come in the form of a housing choice voucher—which as far as what I know is what the Housing Authority of Joliet is offering.”
Stahr said residents may be given a choice between the two forms of assistance.
“If you are given a choice between the two of them, the Section 104 (d) amount will generally be greater because it includes both interim living costs and a security deposit,” he said. “If you are given a housing choice voucher—otherwise known as Section 8—you are generally given 180 days and the housing authority will be able to provide you with a list of places to try to find housing.”
Stahr wanted residents to know they have the right to appeal to a state court to review eligibility for assistance, if it is not granted.
Brand said she’s noted a lot of residents of Fairview Homes have moved out of their original units only to experience problems in another section of the complex.
“I used to have a bigger space,” she said. “I have two small children, and I want them to be able to run around.”
Brand has been a resident of Fairview Homes for four years. She said the workshop proved to be helpful in preparing her to take the necessary steps to relocate.
“I’ll be glad once I move out,” Brand said.
Anyone in need of additional assistance is encouraged to visit Prairie State Legal Services and its Joliet office at 18 W. Cass St. or call 815-727-5123.