Chicago Sun-Times

Ad­vo­cates ask gov to can­cel rent, mort­gage pay­ments to pre­vent evic­tion boom

Hous­ing ad­vo­cates urge gov to can­cel rent, mort­gage pay­ments

- BY ELVIA MALAGÓN, STAFF RE­PORTER emalagón@sun­times.com | @Elvi­aMalagon Elvia Malagón’s re­port­ing on so­cial jus­tice and in­come in­equal­ity is made pos­si­ble by a grant from the Chicago Com­mu­nity Trust. J.B. Pritzker · Gold Coast · Illinois · Lincoln Park · Linkin Park · Lincoln Park · Austin · Lori Lightfoot · Chicago · Chicago Police Department

Hous­ing ad­vo­cates Tues­day taped no­tices de­mand­ing rent pay­ments within five days on the gate of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s home in the Gold Coast in hopes of draw­ing attention to what they say is an im­mi­nent hous­ing crisis.

In a twist, the no­tices were ad­dressed to the “renters of Illi­nois” and listed Pritzker as the “landlord or landlord’s agent,” with ser­vice on be­half of the real es­tate lobby.

The group posted the no­tices while call­ing on the first-term gov­er­nor to can­cel rent and mort­gage pay­ments and to lift the ban on rent con­trol be­cause so many peo­ple are out of work due to the global COVID-19 pan­demic, said Rod Wil­son, one of the or­ga­niz­ers of the Lift the Ban Coali­tion. The group’s ef­forts took place the day be­fore the first of the month, which is typ­i­cally when renters have to pay rent.

“All we’re say­ing is sign the pa­per, can­cel the rent, can­cel the mort­gage, put a reg­u­la­tion on rent in­creases. That’s all we’re ask­ing for,” Wil­son said. “Oth­er­wise, he’s going to be known as the bil­lion­aire gov­er­nor that led us into the worst hous­ing crisis ever. And I say, ‘Shame on you.’ ”

Chant­ing “Hous­ing is a hu­man right,” the group marched from the edge of Lin­coln Park through the af­flu­ent neigh­bor­hood where Pritzker lives. The group at­tracted attention from neigh­bors, in­clud­ing one who watched from his bal­cony and a woman who spoke to Chicago po­lice of­fi­cers who were mon­i­tor­ing the crowd.

Ki­isha Smith, 43, of Austin, said she’s wor­ried the com­ing months will re­sult in a boom in evic­tions.

“Too many of us will be home­less af­ter the pan­demic,” she said.

Af­ter speak­ing to the crowd, Smith said she and six other fam­i­lies have banded to­gether to help each other nav­i­gate the loom­ing evic­tions. Her landlord started the evic­tion process be­fore the pan­demic. Smith runs a child care com­pany, but she had to halt the busi­ness when the ris­ing number of COVID-19 cases led to a stay-at-home or­der.

“I have at least six fam­i­lies who are pet­ri­fied be­cause what are they going to do?” Smith said. “Busi­nesses were closed down.

They lost their jobs. Some of them were able to get unem­ploy­ment, but some of them weren’t. They are fight­ing that. It’s just no­body knows what they are up against, so we’ve come to­gether.”

Pritzker’s pre­vi­ous ex­ec­u­tive or­der that halts evic­tions across the state was ex­tended to July 26. In June, the City Coun­cil ap­proved a plan from Mayor Lori Light­foot that would pro­hibit evic­tions for 60 days af­ter the state’s ex­ec­u­tive or­der ex­pires.

As part of the plan, land­lords would be pro­hib­ited from evict­ing ten­ants af­fected by the pan­demic with­out try­ing to ne­go­ti­ate with them first.

De­spite the mora­to­rium on evic­tions, the Metropoli­tan Ten­ants Or­ga­ni­za­tion re­ported calls about il­le­gal lock­outs in Chicago have roughly dou­bled from mid-March to mid-June com­pared with nor­mal av­er­ages, the Sun-Times pre­vi­ously re­ported. Hous­ing ad­vo­cates are con­cerned there will be an uptick in evic­tions once the city’s hous­ing court re­opens Mon­day.

Drew Lovell, who owns Bonus Round Game Cafe in Lake View, said he lives in Up­town and has stayed afloat by us­ing unem­ploy­ment ben­e­fits. The pan­demic caused him to shut­ter his busi­ness tem­po­rar­ily.

The ben­e­fits are “about to run out real quick, and when it does, we are all going to start be­ing evicted over here,” he said.

Af­ter about 30 min­utes out­side Pritzker’s home, the group marched to Lin­coln Park. The coali­tion, made up of var­i­ous com­mu­nity groups, planned to stay at the neigh­bor­hood’s name­sake park through the night. Mem­bers orig­i­nally had planned to erect tents and dub the setup “Pritzk­erville,” but they were un­sure whether they would be al­lowed to stay overnight.

 ?? ASH­LEE REZIN GAR­CIA/SUN-TIMES ?? Pro­test­ers march to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s Gold Coast man­sion on Tues­day urg­ing can­cel­la­tion of rent and mort­gage pay­ments.
ASH­LEE REZIN GAR­CIA/SUN-TIMES Pro­test­ers march to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s Gold Coast man­sion on Tues­day urg­ing can­cel­la­tion of rent and mort­gage pay­ments.
 ?? ASH­LEE REZIN GAR­CIA/SUN-TIMES ?? Ki­isha Smith, 43, of Austin, said at the rally, “Too many of us will be home­less af­ter the pan­demic.”
ASH­LEE REZIN GAR­CIA/SUN-TIMES Ki­isha Smith, 43, of Austin, said at the rally, “Too many of us will be home­less af­ter the pan­demic.”

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