WBEZ | Chicago’s North Side http://www.wbez.org/tags/chicago%E2%80%99s-north-side Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en The slow disappearing act of the Chicago SRO http://www.wbez.org/news/slow-disappearing-act-chicago-sro-105836 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS7102_IMG_2085%20%28outside%202%29-scr.jpg" style="margin: 5px; float: left; height: 412px; width: 275px;" title="The Hotel Chateau in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood is a single-room occupancy building that is home to about 90 residents. (WBEZ/Robin Amer)" />This weekend, residents of the Chateau Hotel on Chicago&rsquo;s North Side hope to learn the fate of their building. Many of them received notices in late January, notifying them that their leases would be terminated in 30 days, but they haven&rsquo;t received information about what will happen after that. Some of the building&rsquo;s tenants fear the building will go the way of other North Side single-room occupancy hotels (SROs) in recent years: Namely, its new owner will renovate it for a higher market-rate clientele.</p><p>&ldquo;All I know is this: There&rsquo;s too many different stories I&rsquo;m hearing,&rdquo; said Tiffany Myers, a resident of the Chateau Hotel since August. &ldquo;Some say they&rsquo;re going to remodel it, that the new manager is supposed to be closing it down, remodeling it,&rdquo; she recounted, sitting in the small studio that she shares with her fiance. &ldquo;That this new owner has a habit of buying SRO buildings, low-income buildings, and then making it expensive for people who can&rsquo;t afford to move in. Only for ritzy people.&rdquo;</p><p>The Chateau is among the city&rsquo;s shrinking pool of single-room occupancy hotels (<a href="#Map">map below</a>), which offer an important housing option for people with low- and fixed-incomes. SROs also serve clients with troubled credit or criminal histories. The North Side has long been an SRO hub, but in recent years many such buildings have been purchased by developers and closed, only to reopen as more expensive housing &mdash; often beyond the means of prior tenants. Some SRO residents and community organizers worry the Chateau Hotel might be the next building in this trend.</p><p>&ldquo;To me it&rsquo;s kind of unfair because not too many of us can get an apartment right now,&rdquo; Myers explained. Myers said she and her fiance had no choice but to live at the Chateau Hotel after they were evicted from their last apartment. When they moved into their first unit &mdash;&nbsp;a small, one-room place without a kitchen, typical of the building &mdash;&nbsp;they paid $575 a month. Later, they upgraded to another of the building&#39;s units: a studio apartment with a kitchen.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><object height="338" width="601"><param name="flashvars" value="offsite=true&amp;lang=en-us&amp;page_show_url=%2Fphotos%2Fchicagopublicradio%2Fsets%2F72157632880645923%2Fshow%2F&amp;page_show_back_url=%2Fphotos%2Fchicagopublicradio%2Fsets%2F72157632880645923%2F&amp;set_id=72157632880645923&amp;jump_to=" /><param name="movie" value="http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=124984" /><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true" /><embed allowfullscreen="true" flashvars="offsite=true&amp;lang=en-us&amp;page_show_url=%2Fphotos%2Fchicagopublicradio%2Fsets%2F72157632880645923%2Fshow%2F&amp;page_show_back_url=%2Fphotos%2Fchicagopublicradio%2Fsets%2F72157632880645923%2F&amp;set_id=72157632880645923&amp;jump_to=" height="338" src="http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=124984" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="601"></embed></object></p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>While playing the slideshow, push &quot;X&quot; for full screen. &quot;Show info&quot; displays captions.</em></p><p>Myers relies on a monthly disability check so, like many other SRO tenants, she is on a fixed income. Her fiance was laid off several months ago and has not been able to find steady work since. She said even if he found a job and could afford a higher-priced apartment elsewhere, they would still have a tough time finding a building that would accept them.</p><p>&ldquo;Some of us have really nasty backgrounds. Some of us can&rsquo;t pass the credit check,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;Now, I&rsquo;m not saying I&rsquo;m going to live in this rat shack forever, but at least until I&rsquo;m able to get myself on my feet. And if they do put us out, at least help us out with somewhere to go.&rdquo;</p><p>Myers rattled off the problems with the building, echoing <a href="http://james46.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Chateau-first-amended-complaint.pdf">violations documented by city inspectors</a>: mice, bedbugs, waterbugs, rotting window frames, peeling wall plaster and a broken smoke detector. The city has slapped the Chateau Hotel with 137 code violations, and is pursuing compliance in an ongoing buildings court case.</p><p>&ldquo;They&rsquo;ve not been living in safe housing, and those conditions were deplorable,&rdquo; said Chicago Alderman James Cappleman (46th), &ldquo;and that should never have been allowed.&rdquo; Cappleman, a former social worker, said the city should have intervened earlier with the Chateau and other SROs before they got to this point. But he said he feels the conditions there are dangerous enough that the building should be vacated for renovations.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS7096_IMG_1761%20%28detail%203%29-scr.jpg" style="margin: 5px; float: right; height: 183px; width: 275px;" title="Many Chateau residents have complained about the building’s poor condition. The plaster underneath Tiffany Myers’ living room windows is peeling off. Myers says she normally hides the damage behind her couch. (WBEZ/Robin Amer)" />The 46th Ward had 14 licensed SROs in 2012 &mdash; at least twice as many as any other ward. About one quarter of the city&rsquo;s SROs have been in four of the North Side lakefront wards alone: (wards 44, 46, 48, and 49). But on the whole, the number of SROs in Chicago has declined noticeably in the last five years. In 2008 there were 106 licensed SROs. Today, there are 81.</p><p>Carmelo Vargas, former Chicago Commissioner of Human Services, says he&rsquo;s concerned about SROs disappearing citywide, but especially on the North Side. That&rsquo;s because many of the support services like food pantries, soup kitchens, and medical clinics for the populations that live in SROs are located near those buildings. &ldquo;If you&rsquo;re not building affordable housing two blocks away and you&rsquo;re closing this one down, we have a problem,&rdquo; Vargas said, referring to the Chateau Hotel.</p><p>Still, Vargas has worked on &mdash; and sees &mdash; both sides of the issue; he&rsquo;s helped the homeless find rooms in SROs, but at the same time he was also involved in closing many SROs. &ldquo;Most of the closings that we did were related to fire issues, safety issues, living condition issues,&rdquo; he said, &ldquo;not because somebody wanted to buy the building.&rdquo;</p><p>Vargas says the SRO disappearing act can be explained by two things: First, they sit on prime real estate near the lake; and second, many SRO owners let the buildings fall almost beyond salvaging. Together, these create the perfect opportunity for a well-funded developer to swoop in and make a kill.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS7095_IMG_1732%20%28detail%206%29-scr.jpg" style="margin: 5px; float: left; height: 183px; width: 275px;" title="The wooden frame on one of Myers’ kitchen windows has rotted clean through. (WBEZ/Robin Amer)" />The new owner of the Chateau Hotel is still shrouded by some mystery. Cappleman&rsquo;s office announced that <a href="http://james46.org/announcements/alderman-cappleman-announces-the-sale-of-chateau-hotel/">a land trust called 3838 N Broadway LLC bought the property</a> in January, but the alderman has declined to name the individuals behind it. An attorney for the land trust also declined to comment.</p><p>Cappleman says the new owner has assured him the building will still contain affordable SRO units, but that the rent will go up to $800 a month, putting it out of range for many current tenants. Still, Cappleman feels the era of SROs on the North Side has not passed. &ldquo;Is it more difficult to find on the North Side? It&rsquo;s more difficult,&rdquo; he conceded, &ldquo;but it is there.&rdquo;</p><p>Cappleman has vowed to tenants that none will be left homeless or in a shelter, and he said Catholic Charities and Department of Family Support Services will work individually with tenants of the Chateau Hotel to find alternative arrangements. But Cappleman said he can&rsquo;t guarantee that everyone will find on the North Side.</p><p>&ldquo;Can everyone live exactly where they want to live? No, no one can,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;You can&rsquo;t and I can&rsquo;t. But there is enough housing available to ensure that they don&rsquo;t have to live on the streets.&quot;<a name="Map"></a></p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>(Chrome users: If you see no map, click the shield button at the top-right of your address bar)</em></p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe frameborder="0" height="900" scrolling="no" src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/INTERACTIVE+DATA+PUBLISHING/2013+Projects/March/SROs/index.html" width="620"></iframe><br /><em>This map used the <a href="http://derekeder.com/searchable_map_template/">Searchable Map Template</a> by <a href="http://derekeder.com">Derek Eder</a>.</em></p><p><strong>Notes on the data</strong></p><p>Data on single-room occupancy licenses were obtained from the City of Chicago. Figures from the 2008, 2010, and 2012 reporting periods represent licenses in operation during portions of those years. 2013 figures are current as of March 1.&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 28 Feb 2013 23:03:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/slow-disappearing-act-chicago-sro-105836 Police seize 3,000 pounds of marijuana in Chicago http://www.wbez.org/story/arrest/police-seize-3000-pounds-marijuana-chicago-84497 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-March/2011-03-25/Marijuana_Getty_Uriel Sinai.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Authorities say they've seized 3,000 pounds of marijuana in two homes on Chicago's North Side and arrested four suspected members of a major drug ring.</p><p>In a news release on Wednesday, the Chicago Police Department says its detectives and agents with the Drug Enforcement Agency found about 1,000 pounds of marijuana in shrink wrapped bundles and that the investigation led them to a second home, where they discovered another 2,000 pounds of marijuana.</p><p>Police say the marijuana has a street value of more than $8.1 million.</p><p>Four men - two residents of the first home and two residents of the second home - were arrested on felony drug charges Tuesday afternoon.</p></p> Wed, 30 Mar 2011 20:18:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/arrest/police-seize-3000-pounds-marijuana-chicago-84497 Undocumented youths try to derail Senate hopeful Mark Kirk http://www.wbez.org/story/19th-ward/undocumented-youths-try-derail-senate-hopeful-mark-kirk <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2010-October/2010-10-29/Rogelio_0.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>A requirement to vote in the United States is citizenship. But voting isn&rsquo;t the only way to affect a race&rsquo;s outcome. Some undocumented young people in the Chicago area are going all out against the Republican in Illinois&rsquo;s U.S. Senate election Tuesday.<br /><br />Their motivation is a federal bill called the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act. The DREAM Act, as it&rsquo;s known, would provide legal status to many college students and service members who&rsquo;ve grown up in the United States.<br /><br />The undocumented youths are upset that Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL) isn&rsquo;t supporting the legislation. They&rsquo;re trying to derail his U.S. Senate campaign and get in his face.<br /><br />Ambi: DREAM Act? Yeah, yeah, yeah! Mark Kirk? No, no, no!<br /><br />About a dozen undocumented students have donned graduation gowns and caps outside a Republican office on Chicago&rsquo;s North Side. Three others are staging a sit-in inside. They include this 23-year-old.<br /><br />UNZUETA: My name is Irere Unzueta.<br /><br />Unzueta says her parents brought her to Chicago from Mexico at age 6. She&rsquo;s graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Now she wants a master&rsquo;s in engineering. But she&rsquo;s not a legal resident so doesn&rsquo;t qualify for most financial aid.<br /><br />Unzueta says she and the others aren&rsquo;t leaving the Republican office until Kirk agrees to meet with them.<br /><br />UNZUETA: Him saying that he is going to want to push for a lot more border security -- border enforcement -- before anything positive is really passed, I just think, is a really bad idea.<br /><br />Unzueta says her group isn&rsquo;t endorsing the race&rsquo;s Democrat, Alexi Giannoulias. She says they just want Kirk defeated.<br /><br />After four hours inside the office, police show up and the students leave. But about 10 miles away, some other undocumented youths keep at it.<br /><br />Ambi: Walking through fallen leaves.<br /><br />MITCHELL: I&rsquo;m going door to door through a Latino neighborhood of west-suburban Melrose Park. A 22-year-old named Rogelio is leading a crew of volunteer canvassers that&rsquo;s reminding folks to vote on Tuesday.<br />Ambi: Knocking.<br />ROGELIO: Here we come. (Door opens.) Hola buenas noches. Cómo estás? Se encuentra el señor... <br />MITCHELL: He asked us not to broadcast his last name because he&rsquo;s undocumented. Rogelio says he&rsquo;s lived in the area since his parents brought him from Mexico City at age 6. After graduating from a high school in Northlake, he says he fell into a depression as he realized how hard it would be to go to college or find a decent job without papers.<br />ROGELIO: This is crazy because I&rsquo;m undocumented and I&rsquo;m doing this. And people are thanking me. Even though I can&rsquo;t vote, the people are thanking us for doing this.<br />MITCHELL: Rogelio&rsquo;s not telling anyone how to vote. But he is handing out some yellow fliers comparing the immigration stands of the U.S. Senate candidates. That flier suggests a big difference between Mark Kirk and Alexi Giannoulias on the DREAM Act.<br />ROGELIO: I really enjoy doing this. It gets me out of my depression. It gets me out from where I was at two years ago, just there home doing nothing, like a loser. And I&rsquo;m not a loser. We&rsquo;re not losers, we&rsquo;re winners. And I feel like a winner right now, doing this, just getting out there and just informing the community.<br /><br />We left messages this morning to see what the Kirk campaign and the Illinois Republican Party think about undocumented youths working against the Senate candidate. They didn&rsquo;t get back to us.<br /><br />But a local Tea Party activist says the young people are hurting their own cause.<br /><br />WOJTOWICZ: They&rsquo;re helping Mark Kirk with this.<br /><br />Catherina Wojtowicz lives on Chicago&rsquo;s Southwest Side.<br /><br />WOJTOWICZ: They&rsquo;re strategy is completely skewed. Mark Kirk&rsquo;s weak base is with the conservative movement. If they want to come to the Southwest Side, I&rsquo;ll give them a donation.<br />MITCHELL: Why?<br />WOJTOWICZ: It&rsquo;ll help me. And Worth Township and the 19th Ward are Democratic bastions.<br /><br />The undocumented youths may not have a good shot at winning over Wojtowicz&rsquo;s part of town. But they still think can defeat Kirk.</p></p> Fri, 29 Oct 2010 22:52:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/19th-ward/undocumented-youths-try-derail-senate-hopeful-mark-kirk