WBEZ | evictions http://www.wbez.org/tags/evictions Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Protections for renters in foreclosed buildings take effect http://www.wbez.org/news/protections-renters-foreclosed-buildings-take-effect-108756 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/signs.jpg" style="height: 284px; width: 350px; float: left;" title="Albany Park Neighborhood Council members gathered Tuesday to publicize the Keep Chicago Renting ordinance, passed in June by the Chicago City Council. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)" />Tenant advocates cheered Tuesday as new Chicago protections for renters in foreclosed buildings took effect. Their challenge now, they say, is spreading the word about the ordinance.<br /><br />&ldquo;The banks will be fighting it,&rdquo; said Diane Limas of the Albany Park Neighborhood Council, a group that worked for years to pass the measure. &ldquo;They will try to figure out every way to throw families out in the streets. But the best way to fight back against the banks is to make sure every renter knows their rights.&rdquo;<br /><br />The ordinance, known as Keep Chicago Renting, won City Council approval in June. It requires the foreclosing entity to provide a building&rsquo;s tenants with a rent-controlled lease until selling the property &mdash; or pay them a &ldquo;relocation assistance&rdquo; fee of $10,600 per unit. The goal is to keep renters in their homes and keep the buildings from standing vacant and attracting vandals, squatters and thieves.<br /><br />Last year there were 4,346 foreclosures on Chicago apartment buildings encompassing 11,932 units, according to the Lawyers&rsquo; Committee for Better Housing, which pushed for the ordinance. The committee says half of those foreclosures were filed by five companies: JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, U.S. Bank and Deutsche Bank. Banks filed about 11 percent of Chicago evictions in the last half of 2012, the committee adds.<br /><br />Groups representing bankers, realtors and landlords say the ordinance will backfire. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s going to be a disincentive for investment in multi-units from a wide range of financing sources,&rdquo; said Brian Bernardoni, senior director of government affairs and public policy of the Illinois Association of Realtors. &ldquo;Any time you have a lack of investment, there&rsquo;s going to be a lack of rehab, a lack of sustainable affordable housing and preservation of affordable housing units.&rdquo;<br /><br />Tenant advocates point out that the measure applies only to the first owner after the foreclosure auction. From there, any party that buys the building is free to evict the tenants without the relocation fee.<br /><br />As aldermen and Mayor Rahm Emanuel&rsquo;s administration worked on the measure this spring, the Illinois Mortgage Bankers Association warned that the rent cap would violate the Illinois constitution. Questioned Tuesday, neither the mortgage bankers group nor the Illinois Bankers Association answered whether they were planning a court challenge.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/cmitchell-0">Chip Mitchell</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s West Side bureau reporter. Follow him on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/ChipMitchell1">@ChipMitchell1</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>, and connect with him through <a href="https://www.facebook.com/chipmitchell1">Facebook</a> and <a href="http://www.linkedin.com/in/ChipMitchell1">LinkedIn</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 24 Sep 2013 17:12:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/protections-renters-foreclosed-buildings-take-effect-108756 City Council enacts ‘Keep Chicago Renting’ ordinance http://www.wbez.org/news/city-council-enacts-%E2%80%98keep-chicago-renting%E2%80%99-ordinance-107553 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/SifuentesCROP.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px 0px; float: right; height: 268px; width: 300px;" title="Housing activist María Elena Sifuentes celebrates outside the council chambers after the vote. ‘We beat the banks,' she says. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)" />The Chicago City Council on Wednesday afternoon approved protections for renters whose units have entered foreclosure. The ordinance passed in a 45-4 vote after more than a year of organizing by tenant advocates.</p><p>The measure, dubbed Keep Chicago Renting, will require the foreclosing bank to provide the tenants a rent-controlled lease until selling the property or pay them a &ldquo;relocation assistance&rdquo; fee of $10,600 per unit. The goal is to keep renters in their homes and keep the buildings from standing vacant and breeding crime.</p><p>María Elena Sifuentes, a housing activist with the Albany Park Neighborhood Council, said she had been working for an ordinance like this for four years. The council vote left her &ldquo;overwhelmed, excited, speechless,&rdquo; she&nbsp;said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s a victory for us that we got this, especially because we&rsquo;re just the little people and we beat the banks.&rdquo;</p><p>The aldermen casting &ldquo;no&rdquo; votes were Mary O&rsquo;Connor (41st), Patrick O&rsquo;Connor (40th), Matthew O&rsquo;Shea (19th) and Michael Zalewski (23rd).</p><p>An earlier version of the proposal, introduced by Ald. Richard Mell (33rd) last July, would have prohibited post-foreclosure evictions outright except under narrow circumstances such as the tenants&rsquo; failure to pay rent.</p><p>Mayor Rahm Emanuel&rsquo;s administration worried that version might not withstand legal challenges. Instead of the eviction ban, the city pushed for requiring the banks to pay the relocation fee. Negotiations between City Hall and tenant advocates dragged on for months. The sides did not finalize the amount of the fee until last week.</p><p>The council&rsquo;s Housing and Real Estate Committee, chaired by Ald. Ray Suárez (31st), held two hearings on the bill last month. Before both hearings and Wednesday&rsquo;s vote,&nbsp;tenant activists dressed in orange T-shirts rallied outside the council chambers.</p><p>Groups representing banks, landlords and realtors tried to delay the vote. They said the measure would violate Illinois statutes, including a law that bars local governments from setting up rent control. They claimed the ordinance would also discourage lending in the city. Their arguments did not gain much traction in City Hall.</p><p>After the vote, Mell said his fellow aldermen had realized something: &ldquo;They&rsquo;re all plagued by vacant properties where the banks have thrown the people out. The gangbangers go in. They strip the copper out of the properties and they use them for hangouts and they ruin the neighborhood. So this is one more tool, hopefully, [to] help bring our neighborhoods back.&rdquo;</p><p>The ordinance could have far-reaching effects. More than 50,000 Chicago rental units went into foreclosure between 2009 and 2011, according to the Lawyers&rsquo; Committee for Better Housing, which supported the measure. Crime in abandoned buildings and vacant lots has increased nearly 48 percent since 2005, according to the committee.</p><p><em><a href="“http://www.wbez.org/users/cmitchell-0”" target="_blank">Chip Mitchell</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s West Side bureau reporter. Follow him on Twitter <a href="“https://twitter.com/ChipMitchell1”" target="_blank">@ChipMitchell1</a> and <a href="“https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud”" target="_blank">@WBEZoutloud</a>, and connect with him through <a href="“https://www.facebook.com/chipmitchell1”" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="“http://www.linkedin.com/in/ChipMitchell1”" target="_blank">LinkedIn</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 05 Jun 2013 14:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/city-council-enacts-%E2%80%98keep-chicago-renting%E2%80%99-ordinance-107553 Sheriff mulls freeing inmates wanted on immigration charges http://www.wbez.org/story/sheriff-mulls-freeing-inmates-wanted-immigration-charges-89233 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/archives/images/cityroom/cityroom_20090908_tarnold_9361_Sher_large.png" alt="" /><p><p>On any given day, the Cook County Jail holds hundreds of inmates picked up on criminal charges who also happen to be wanted for an immigration violation. Sheriff Tom Dart’s office keeps them up to 48 hours beyond when the criminal cases would allow them out. That’s to allow Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the federal agency known as ICE, to take them into deportation proceedings. Now Dart tells WBEZ he’s reconsidering that policy because it could be compromising public safety. We report from our West Side bureau.</p><p><br> SOUND: Keys open a jail door.<br> <br> Beneath the Cook County criminal courthouse, one jailer pulls out keys and unlocks a door. Another, Officer Carmelo Santiago, leads the way.<br> <br> SANTIAGO: We’re going through this tunnel that connects us from the courthouse to the jail. This way is where the detainee is going to be coming.<br> <br> We step around crusts of sandwiches that the day’s new arrivals got for lunch.<br> <br> SANTIAGO: And this is the receiving process.<br> <br> SOUND: Entering the receiving area.<br> <br> The smell of unwashed feet wafts from chain-link pens full of inmates who’re waiting to be processed. Santiago shows me the paperwork of a Mexican national busted last night in Chicago.<br> <br> SANTIAGO: This individual was arrested for driving on a revoked or suspended license on a DUI.<br> <br> A lot of immigrants who drink and drive end up in this jail. That’s because Illinois considers DUI a felony when the motorist lacks a valid driver’s license. And the state doesn’t allow any undocumented immigrant to get one.<br> <br> SANTIAGO: He was issued a bond from the court for $15,000.<br> <br> Santiago points out that the defendant could walk free for just $1,500. Except, his file shows something else.<br> <br> SANTIAGO: This specific individual has a detainer that was placed on him through immigration.<br> <br> MITCHELL: This man can post bond or not [and] he’s going to end up in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement?<br> <br> SANTIAGO: That is correct.<br> <br> Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart says he doesn’t like holding on to inmates like this one for ICE to take away. He says these holds make it harder for local police to fight crime. Residents see cops and start thinking about the threat of deportation — the threat to the criminals, maybe even to themselves.<br> <br> DART: It does not lend itself to a sense of community where people will gladly come to you with information about crimes, get involved as a witness, even come forward as a victim, frankly.<br> <br> Over the years Dart has taken steps to reduce the jail’s role in immigration enforcement. The sheriff’s office says it no longer calls ICE with information about inmates. The sheriff no longer allows ICE agents in holding cells near bond courtrooms. The jail has put up big signs — in English, Spanish and Polish — that tell new inmates they have no obligation to answer questions about immigration status. But Dart says something has him in a bind. Every day ICE requests that the jail hold certain inmates two extra days so the agency can put the detainees into deportation proceedings. The jail ends up turning over about a half-dozen inmates to ICE each day. Two years ago, Dart quietly sought some legal advice from Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez’s office.<br> <br> DART: The opinion was really unambiguous. It said I had to comply with the detainer. So, when the detainer was placed on somebody, I had to give the ICE officers 48 hours to come and pick somebody up and that it was not in my discretion.<br> <br> MITCHELL: Could you ignore the state’s attorney’s opinion?<br> <br> DART: Then I open myself up personally to civil liability.<br> <br> Dart says that could include damages for someone hurt by a released inmate or the legal defense if an anti-immigrant group filed suit . . .<br> <br> DART: . . . which is not something that myself or my five children signed up to do. And I open our office up to unbelievable amounts of liability.<br> <br> But some immigrant advocates are pressing Dart about the ICE detainers. They confronted a few of his top aides at a meeting a few weeks ago. Reverend Walter Coleman got to question a sheriff’s attorney, Patricia Horne.<br> <br> HORNE: It’s a legal document just like an arrest warrant, which we, under law, have to recognize.<br> <br> COLEMAN: Under what law?<br> <br> HORNE: Well, in this case, under federal law.<br> <br> COLEMAN: There is no federal law. You cannot cite me the statute or the chapter or the section. You know that that’s the truth and we will not sit here and be lied to like this.<br> <br> It turns out ICE isn’t citing a statute either. Lately federal officials have acknowledged that local jails don’t have to comply with immigration detainer requests. Last month the San Francisco County Sheriff’s Department quit honoring the requests for certain inmates. Here in Cook County, Sheriff Dart says that’s got him wondering again whether he has to comply with the 48-hour holds. He tells me he’s planning to ask the State’s Attorney’s Office for an updated opinion. He could do that quietly again and most people wouldn’t even know. But Dart doesn’t always operate quietly. You might remember that, twice over the last three years, the sheriff has ordered his deputies to suspend enforcement of foreclosure evictions.<br> <br> MITCHELL: You run one of the country’s biggest jails. Would you really be willing to become a national lightening rod on the issue of immigration enforcement?<br> <br> DART: Well, there is this notion of justice that we’ve always felt very strongly about in this office. And whether it’s dealing with people who we felt were being dispossessed of their houses in the mortgage crisis. So we stopped. It’s the same issue here, where we are attempting to do what is right and just.<br> <br> But Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Greg Palmore has a warning for any sheriff who lets inmates walk free despite an immigration hold.<br> <br> PALMORE: Though ICE has not sought to compel compliance through legal proceedings, jurisdictions who ignore detainers bear the risk of allowing that individual back into the public domain before they were thoroughly vetted to insure that this individual doesn’t have anything outstanding that warrants us to move further in that particular case.<br> <br> Sheriff Dart acknowledges there could be a downside to ignoring immigration detainer requests. Let’s say ICE knows the inmate arrived in the country under an alias or is violent — and the information didn’t appear in the jail’s background check. But Dart says letting some immigrants out of jail even though ICE wants them could be worth the risk. It might help remove the deportation issue from everyday policing. The sheriff says that could make streets in Cook County safer.</p></p> Fri, 15 Jul 2011 23:13:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/sheriff-mulls-freeing-inmates-wanted-immigration-charges-89233 Study: Rental foreclosures threaten minority areas http://www.wbez.org/story/study-rental-foreclosures-threaten-minority-areas-87599 <p><p>More than 10 percent of the rental units in some of Chicago’s community areas are at risk of foreclosure, and those neighborhoods are mostly in African-American and Hispanic communities, according to a new study.</p><p>The <a href="http://lcbh.org/programs/tenants-in-foreclosure-intervention-project/">Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing’s Tenants in Foreclosure Intervention Project</a> found that in 2010, some 5,904 of the city’s apartment buildings went into foreclosure, affecting more than 17,000 units. The numbers are about the same as in 2009, the first year that the Lawyers’ Committee produced <a href="http://lcbh.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/LCBH-2009-REPORT-Chicago-Apartment-Building-Foreclosures-Impact-on-Tenants-RB.pdf">such a study</a>.</p><div>The most-affected neighborhoods create a sort of “foreclosure belt” in Chicago, according to the Committee’s legal director, Mark Swartz.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>“When you look at it visually... all of these properties (are) in areas that are sort of on the South Side and the far West side,” said Swartz. “Communities that really are already underserved are experiencing a large percentage of potential loss of their rental housing because of the foreclosure crisis.”</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Swartz says in many of these neighborhoods, the foreclosed buildings have been repurchased by the financial institutions that once lent the mortgages to the former owners. Rather than allow tenants to continue living there, Swartz says those banks often empty and board-up the buildings, taking them out of the rental stock perhaps permanently.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The study’s authors were surprised to find that in 2010 Chicago saw its lowest eviction rate in ten years.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>“We think a lot of tenants are just walking away,” explained Swartz.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The Committee has documented many instances where renters have been coerced into leaving before their leases are finished.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>“There’ll be people at the building demanding that tenants leave,” said Swartz, “telling tenants that there’s going to be an immediate board-up, and putting notes all over the property saying get out, or there’ll be a board-up crew coming to put you out.”</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Swartz says those actions are often illegal, and the city should renew efforts to educate tenants about their rights when their building is in foreclosure.</div></p> Thu, 09 Jun 2011 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/study-rental-foreclosures-threaten-minority-areas-87599