Chicago Tribune, Letter to the Editor: Protect renters in foreclosures

To the Editor:

The article on April 25 by Mary Ellen Podmolik and Hal Dardick, “Foreclosure building plan would offer renters $12,000 to move,” did a good job of laying out the basics of the Keep Chicago Renting ordinance and its impact on banks. We agree with ordinance sponsor Ald. Richard Mell, 33rd, that it gives banks the opportunity to protect their investments by keeping buildings occupied and contributes to overall neighborhood stability.

Because of the recent foreclosure crisis around the county and in our city, there is a severe strain on the rental housing market. The lack of rental housing affordable to low-income and working families is a serious problem for the stability of our city. The Keep Chicago Renting ordinance will help to stem the tide of rent-paying, law abiding renters evicted through no fault of their own.

When families have to leave their homes because their apartment building has been foreclosed, it creates instability on a number of fronts. Children will likely have to change schools (with six to nine months of academic time lost for every move). Rent for replacement housing will most likely be higher, creating further strain on family budgets. Moving is expensive and difficult and may take families away from neighborhood support networks.

From our perspective, this ordinance benefits all parties involved. It keeps buildings occupied, which mitigates crime and promotes community stability. It protects banks from losing their investments when buildings are vacated and stripped. And finally, it protects rent-paying, law abiding tenants from being evicted through no fault of their own.

— Eithne McMenamin, Associate Policy Director, Chicago Coalition for the Homeless