Bronzeville Residents Take A Stand Against Displacement

Last updated: June 10, 2019 – 9:41 AM

When tenants organize, great things happen! Their power gained and their power leveraged empowers them to affect qualitative housing change in their lives.
In the beginning of May, the tenants living on Drexel Boulevard contacted MTO about an invalid demolition notice posted on their doors. The notice essentially said that they had to move in 15 days and vacate because demolition work would start at the end of May-typical gentrification scare tactic. At the time of the call to MTO, there was stagnant sewage water in the basement and the lobby, the building’s elevator was in disrepair and rodents and roaches reportedly thrived in the units. A couple of ceilings were caving in and to top it off, tenants were not able to receive their mail because the front door was inaccessible-and some of these tenants needed medical supplies for serious health conditions. Providing little or no maintenance to buildings is another tactic some property owners use to push tenants out of their buildings.  
MTO and the Lawyers Committee for Better Housing was immediately involved and tenants received a workshop on their housing rights. Two weeks later, tenants organized a tenant association and change was already happening.As indicated on their demolition notice the management company (312 Properties LLC) sent a crew to start demolition at the building. The front lobby was demolished; they got rid of garbage bins, and tore out laundry room washers and dryers. The back porch stairwells were full of garbage and rats.
Tenants who at first were afraid just to meet and talk about their housing issues, were now indignant and outraged. They had gotten no notice from the work crew, there were no city issued work permits posted anywhere on the building. Tenants took immediate action! They flooded 311 and the management company with calls for two straight days. They got inspection reference numbers and most importantly got the city to stop the work at the building. The city posted a bright orange stop work sticker at the main entrance of the building. Illegal demolition has now ceased and the management company had created a lockout situation in violation of the Chicago Landlord and Residents Ordinance. The management company had no choice but to come out a meet with new tenant association and hear their demands. While problems persist, the building is now clean, the sewage problem is gone, the mail delivery issue is being solved, demolished walls now have plastic covers and the porches are now clean.  The association is currently negotiating relocation funds and a move-out timetable. The alderwomen got an urgent request for a meeting and they are prepared to go to the media with their housing issues. The tenants are prepared to fight back!From fear to courage, the organizing of tenants in Bronzeville is an example of tenant power against housing adversity. Chicago needs more tenants fighting back against inhumane property owners and their enforcement management companies.

All 1 Comments

  1. We are seeing a wanton disregard for people’s rights in regard to housing in Chicago. Thank you MTO for stepping out and stepping up.

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