Not In My Back Yard

September 5, 2009 by  
Filed under Inspiring People

tom-dartIn October 2008, Tom Dart, the current Sheriff of Cook County, Illinois made national news when he announced that he was suspending all foreclosure evictions in Cook County.  The number of such evictions had increased dramatically since 2006 as a result of the national subprime mortgage crisis. Dart stated that many of the people being evicted were renters who had faithfully paid their rent but had not known that their landlord was in financial trouble. He explained that in many cases, mortgage companies had not fulfilled their obligation to identify tenants in the foreclosed properties.

Not all the judges whose writs he was refusing to execute shared his sense of outrage, and some of the banks and others seeking to evict the occupants of the foreclosed properties threatened to hold him in contempt of court. A complaint was filed with the state board that disciplines lawyers. Dart decided to stonewall all criticism.

“Most of those people being evicted had been given no process,” he said. “This was the best way to get people to the table to start solving these problems rather than throwing kids out on the street.”

It worked. After a few weeks, the courts hammered out a plan with the sheriff. Before eviction writs can be enforced, it must be shown that the people to be evicted have been told why it is happening and given an opportunity to solve the problem.

Due largely to these efforts, Time Magazine named Dart one of its 100 most influential people for 2009.

  • Winsor Pilates

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