50 Wards in 50 Weekdays: 26th Ward's Denise Beasley says her neighborhood is now much safer, but has 'bold' rats

June 7, 2012

(WBEZ/Sam Hudzik)
Denise Beasley enjoys an evening on her stoop in Humboldt Park.

Denise Beasley doesn’t pause for a moment when I ask what issue she wants her elected officials to focus on.

“The rat problem,” Beasley says. Sitting on the stoop outside her building, Beasley points to a nearby hole with a pop bottle sticking out of it.

“There’s rat holes all over. All over,” she sighs. “Sometimes they come out during the day, they’re just that bold.”

Beasley’s tried to get the problem addressed, but the city says it’s the landlord’s problem. The landlord, as you might expect, says it’s the city’s problem.

Besides the rats, Beasley likes her neighborhood, on the western side of the Humboldt Park area. It’s close to the bus, not far from the train and just a couple blocks from the park.

She didn’t like it at the beginning, when she moved in 2005 from a nearby street.

“When I first came over here – oh, my God. It was a mess. I didn’t know what I was getting into,” Beasley says. “There was a lot of car chasing, a lot of shooting. It was a real hot, hot neighborhood. But since then it’s calmed down a whole tremendous lot. People used to didn’t feel safe over here, but now it’s safe.”

What about gunshots now?

“Not too many. Not too many. Not like it used to be,” she says.

Her husband works at O’Hare Airport. Beasley, who is 53, is a daycare provider, she says, for three of her seven grandchildren.

The subject of  kids is what comes up when we start talking politics. Beasley says she likes Mayor Rahm Emanuel, says he seems “like a fair mayor.”

Still, she’d like the city to do more to help keep neighborhoods safe and help children succeed.

“They still need some more programs for these kids, so they stay off these streets and stuff."

"And the parents – seriously," Beasley adds. "The parents need to get their kids back in school, so they stop hanging out on these corners, stop gangbanging.”

“Education is where it’s at. A diploma is where it’s at.”