Charlie J. Isaacs

  • Hosted by Uptown People’s Law Center
  • Sponsored by Seyfarth Shaw LLP, United Airlines, Inc.
  • Service location Chicago, Illinois
  • Law school Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law
  • Issue area Housing/Homelessness
  • Fellowship class year 2020
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Using community lawyering strategies to support low-income renters in the Chicago neighborhood of Uptown in navigating housing disputes and protect people with prior justice involvement from housing discrimination under Cook County’s new Just Housing Amendment.

Most people lack any knowledge about Cook County’s new Just Housing Amendment, a law that prohibits housing discrimination based on prior justice involvement. Charlie’s Fellowship seeks to fix this problem by making UPLC a leader in JHA legal aid and advocacy – and as a result of this work, more people are getting into housing and more landlords are following the law. Charlie’s Fellowship also answers the drastic need for eviction defense, prevention, and trainings amid the COVID-19 pandemic in his own rapidly gentrifying neighborhood of Uptown. Charlie works closely with Uptown organizers and community groups to help other renters in the neighborhood understand and exercise their rights to safe and stable housing.

As a tenant in Uptown, Charlie serves his own neighborhood, which he moved to after experiencing housing displacement in another part of Chicago. His background in organizing and coalition-building has taught him to always look for ways to expand the table and join people together around shared values and visions for the future.

Fellowship Highlights to Date

During the first year of the Fellowship, Charlie has:

  • Helped tenants secure housing, avoid evictions, and obtain rent relief and repairs
  • Collaborated with local organizers and activists to resist gentrification in Uptown
  • Launched a legal aid practice, complete with resources and a virtual clinic, for justice-involved individuals under the Cook County Just Housing Amendment
  • Led a team of advocates to improve JHA enforcement and compliance by major housing providers
  • Delivered legal rights trainings on housing rights in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic

Next Steps

In the next six months, Charlie plans to:

  • Place more people into housing by asserting their rights under the Just Housing Amendment
  • Provide legal training and representation to help tenants facing the COVID-19 eviction crisis
  • Expand support for tenant organizing and movement-building in Uptown and beyond
  • Collaborate with local advocates to protect Uptown from permanent gentrification


Alan Mills and Charlie Isaacs: Cook County is a fair housing model for those who paid their debt to society

2021 Scales of Justice Highlights

Illinois' Eviction Moratorium Explained

Neighborhoods are comprised not of buildings, but of the people who live in them.

Charles J. Isaacs /
2020 Equal Justice Works Fellow

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Andrew Neuhauser

Host: Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, Inc.

Sponsor: Ohio Access to Justice Foundation

Sara Simon Tompkins

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 Access to Justice Foundation