Newstips: North Siders protest SRO closings

By Curtis Black

Lakeview residents will protest the loss of over 700 SRO units over the past year — and demand that elected officials join their efforts to convince a new landlord to discuss ways of preserving affordable housing — in a march and rally Sunday, February 10, starting at 1:20 p.m. at Wellington United Church, 615 W. Wellington.

Current and former SRO residents will join supporters from the Lakeview Action Coalition seeking a meeting with Jamie Purcell of BJB Properties, and calling on Aldermen James Cappelman (46th Ward), Tom Tunney (44th Ward) and Scott Waguespack (32nd) to step up on behalf of residents in their wards.

BJB has acquired five SROs in Lakeview over the past year, several of which have been emptied, rehabbed, and re-rented at double their previous rents, said Mary Tarullo of LAC.  At some properties, BJB gave 13-hour eviction notices to tenants, she said.

Most recently, on January 31 residents at the Chateau, 3838 N. Broadway, were given 30-day lease termination notices.  Five days later their hot water was turned off, and remained off for five days.  Residents say they were given no explanation for the loss of hot water.

Cappelman suggested residents contact the city for information on getting into homeless shelters, residents say.  “We think that’s an egregious misuse of city resources — to be assisting a landlord in displacing tenants from his buildings,” Tarullo commented.

LAC has been requesting a meeting with Purcell to discuss options for preserving some of the housing as affordable.  “We believe there are other solutions rather than kicking 138 individuals and couples into the street in the middle of winter,” Tarullo said.

Miguel Martinez, a six-year resident recently displaced from the Abbott Hotel, 721 W. Belmont, said SRO’s “allow people like me who work in the neighborhood to live here, close to good transportation and in a safe neighborhood.”

“SRO housing provides an invaluable safety net to thousands in Chicago, and we cannot afford to lose 700 units in Lakeview alone,” said LAC board president Erin Ryan. “We need Mr. Purcell and the aldermen at the table with us” to find “viable solutions for preservation of affordable housing in these buildings.”