Story URL: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=214707
Story Retrieval Date: 9/17/2014 4:34:00 AM CST
The Hotel Chateau has raised concerns from both nearby residents and the 46th Ward alderman, who says conditions in the hotel are the worst he has ever seen.
Residents of low-income Uptown hotel face eviction
The hotel's close proximity to an elementary school and a playground have worried residents who claim the hotel is a source of violent crime.
A single-room occupancy Uptown hotel, considered by many to be a neighborhood blight, will soon be vacated and renovated, though the building’s long-term future – and that of its residents -- remains uncertain.
The condition of the Chateau Hotel, 3838 N. Broadway, has been the subject of a continuing series of housing court hearings over multiple citations. On Tuesday an attorney told the court the building has a new owner who plans to renovate the building.
The previous owner, Jack Gore, was cited for numerous health and building code violations, including a clogged and overflowing garbage chute. Nearby residents and 46th Ward Ald. James Cappleman had also complained about behavior of the hotel’s residents, including allegations of violent crime, drug use and prostitution.
Mitchell Asher, an attorney who said he was “representing the new L.L.C.” but didn’t reveal the name of the new owner, told the judge the property would need to be vacated before renovation could take place.
Many Chateau residents attending the hearing expressed concerns about their future.
"We were here to see if we could talk to the new owner," said Donna Crosier, a resident of the Chateau Hotel for the last two and a half years. "We want to have a meeting with the new owner. We want to know how long we have until we have to vacate. We haven’t even received a notice."
Crosier said she and other residents had asked Asher for the identity of the new owner, but Asher did not respond.
Cappleman, who was at the hearing, addressed the dozen or so Chateau tenants who attended the hearing.
"The living situation at Hotel Chateau is much worse than I ever dreamed possible and I am alarmed," he said, noting that he was concerned about the possibility of fire and the behavior of some of the residents.
Crosier acknowledged that conditions at the hotel were sometimes poor, saying that the heat had been off at several points during a recent two-week period. But Crosier and others pointed to the affordability of the single-room occupancy hotel as a determining factor in their decision to live there.
The number of single-room occupancy buildings on the city's North Side is decreasing, said Mary Lynch-Dungy, organizer for Organization of the NorthEast, a community advocacy group that works in Uptown. She said developers are buying derelict properties such as the Chateau and evicting the current residents. The units can then be remodeled at a relatively low cost and rented at a higher rate.
The result is people who have lived in the same community for many years are suddenly faced with moving, a task made difficult for people with physical or mental disabilities, she said.
"We’ve seen people who had to move on a 30-day notice and cannot find anything affordable in their neighborhood," Lynch-Dungy said.
Cappleman said his office intends to work with the new building owner as well as family and social services to help residents find new living situations. However, Lynch-Dungy said there may not be enough free or inexpensive housing on the city's North Side to meet the needs of everyone facing eviction.
"Well-meaning organizations can try to find you something, but more than likely you will have to move to the South Side, or the West Side, or even Indiana," Lynch-Dungy said. "They can’t help you if there’s nowhere to put you."
Cappleman said he did not believe his ward was lacking low-income housing, but that he did feel residents of low-income housing dealing with mental health illnesses or addiction were not receiving the support they needed, contributing to the conditions and behavior problems he said exist in many large single-occupancy buildings.
"We see this problem over and over again," Cappleman said. "It’s evidence of a very broke system in the city of Chicago."