Amanda Insalaco

  • Hosted by The Center for Disability and Elder Law
  • Sponsored by Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, PayPal
  • Service location Chicago, Illinois
  • Law school DePaul University College of Law
  • Issue area Housing/Homelessness
  • Fellowship class year 2020
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Amanda provides legal assistance to cost-burdened senior homeowners to help ensure that they can afford to age in place and that they have succession plans to pass their property on to designated beneficiaries.

Low-income seniors throughout the greater Chicago area need access to legal services to preserve their rights to their real property. The Center for Disability and Elder Law frequently sees clients living in homes passed down through generations without any formal documentation of their property interest, creating title issues. If the title is incorrect, seniors are unable to sell their homes, refinance, claim property tax exemptions, or draw from equity to make necessary repairs. Meanwhile, other legal problems such as foreclosure, building code violations, and property taxes can lead to the loss of the home before the heirship issues can be resolved. Low-income homeowners must be able to preserve their homes, as real property may be one of the few assets families can pass on. This is particularly true for communities of color, who were disproportionately impacted by the foreclosure crisis and are more likely to be victims of predatory lending.

Before law school, Amanda completed a year of service with Illinois JusticeCorps, where she provided legal information to pro se litigants in rural Knox County, Illinois. In that capacity, it became apparent to Amanda the difference that access to basic legal information can make. Amanda pursued law school to increase access to justice for low- and moderate-income Illinois residents.

Fellowship Plans

Amanda will conduct know-your-rights presentations in community areas most impacted by the housing crisis. Amanda will also launch housing preservation workshops to provide limited-scope legal services to seniors in partnership with pro bono attorneys. These services will include public records searches to determine the status of title and executing Transfer on Death Instruments, which allow homeowners to name a beneficiary to automatically inherit the home upon their passing. Amanda also represents seniors in ongoing matters such as foreclosure, quiet title actions, property tax sales, and building code violation cases.

Housing stability is integral to the quality of life. Having the option to age-in-place is crucial to seniors’ dignity. At the same time, simple estate planning can help ensure that homes are seamlessly passed on to future generations and prevent properties from becoming vacant, thereby impacting communities at large.

Amanda Insalaco /
2020 Equal Justice Works Fellow

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Host: Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, Inc.

Sponsor: Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation

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Host: National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty

Sponsor: Individual Donors, Sullivan & Cromwell LLP

Vallen Solomon

Host: King County Bar Association's Housing Justice Project

Sponsor: Costco Wholesale, The Raikes Foundation

Current Fellow

Michael Deemer

Host: Ohio State Legal Services Association

Sponsor: Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation