Eviction is bad enough by itself—what’s worse is losing your bearings in the complicated legal process. For this year’s Housing Issue, the Weekly has put together a list of questions designed to help renters understand the eviction process and inform renters of their legally protected rights. Our aim is to help renters make informed decisions and avoid harms that could be prevented. But remember: this guide isn’t a substitute for legal advice. It’s important that tenants facing eviction seek legal help.
On January 31, around twenty housing activists blocked traffic on the first floor of the James R. Thompson Center. They brandished banners and placards and demanded support for rent control from Governor Bruce Rauner, whose office is housed at the Thompson Center.
There but for the Grace of God go I” is a phrase I often hear said by those witness to someone else’s misfortune. When the misfortune is homelessness, people often say how they are only one paycheck away from homelessness themselves. Yet for the majority, that one paycheck continues to come and the roof remains over their head, no matter how precariously.
This week on SSW Radio we got reactions on Black History Month, talked with Ben Austen about his new book on public housing, and began celebrating Valentine’s Day with the first in a series of interviews about love and marriage
Twenty-two year old Raymond Shaq McDonald was a child when the high rises at Cabrini-Green fell. Nijole Kasuba, a grandmother now, was just seven when her family decided to flee the advancing Red Army after they saw family members deported and killed in Siberia during the first Soviet Occupation in the 1940s. Their stories of displacement might seem very different, but last Saturday’s event, part of Inherit Chicago’s intercultural festival, explored the similarities in these stories of displacement.
In January, the Weekly published an investigation into the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA)’s failure to redevelop public housing in Bronzeville after demolishing much of it in the early 2000s. The demolition of projects such as Ida B. Wells, Robert Taylor, and Stateway Gardens was part of the now-notorious Plan for Transformation, a federally funded initiative that promised to replace the demolished high-rises with new housing developments that would combine subsidized and market-rate housing units. The Plan also promised that the CHA would rebuild or rehabilitate a total of 25,000 units overall.
Nearly a month ago, the South Side’s only emergency shelter for homeless youth was badly damaged in a sudden and unexplained fire. The shelter, Ujima Village, was located on 73rd Street just off the Dan Ryan expressway, and provided beds for some twenty-four homeless young people every night. Some of those beds were dedicated to long-term residents of the shelter, while others were available to whoever arrived first on a given night.
On January 12, the National Park Service (NPS) granted funding for preservation projects on thirty-nine African American and Civil Rights landmarks across the United States. The African American Civil Rights Grant Program was approved by Congress in 2016 through the Historic Preservation fund, which uses “revenue from federal oil leases on the Outer Continental Shelf to provided assistance for a broad range of preservation projects without expanding tax dollars,” according to the NPS. Spread over twenty states, the grants cover the restoration, preservation, and education costs of landmarks such as the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Alabama, which was bombed by white supremacists during the Civil Rights Movement, and Central High in Little Rock, Arkansas, one of the first schools to undergo forced desegregation after Brown v. Board of Education.
A typical Monday night at Concord House unfolds with a motley group of nearly twenty adults dishing up bowls of lentil stew in their Hyde Park home. A strong family dynamic is evident in the dining room, which is adorned with photos, calendars, and bulletin boards; a crowded bookshelf; and a central table, upon which rest six bunches of bananas, a carton of assorted hot sauces, and an oversized jar of some mystery vegetable, presumably pickled, labelled “DO NOT STIR.” Like many of the objects in the three-story home, these table items are communally shared among its residents, who are related not by blood but rather by chosen lifestyle: that of the housing cooperative.
Mahalia Jackson, the New Orleans-born gospel singer and civil rights activist, spent the later part of her life living in Chatham, in a spacious 1950s brick ranch house complete with seven rooms, a garage, a large chimney, and green lawns, located at 8358 South Indiana Avenue. When she moved to Chicago in 1927 at just sixteen, she lived with family and in various flats while she sang in churches up and down the South and West Sides of Chicago. After her 1947 hit, “Move On Up a Little Higher,” she gained international fame. With profits from her recordings and tours, she began investing in real estate on the South Side and looking for a home of her own. But when she began inquiring at homes with “For Sale” signs in Chatham, which was a majority-white suburb at the time, she was turned away by many homeowners—that is, until she stumbled across a white surgeon who had heard Jackson sing and was glad to sell his house to her. She bought the house in 1956 for $40,000 and was the second African-American homeowner on the block, after her neighbors, the Grants, who had moved in two years earlier.