Logan Square residents at Harding and Altgeld Avenues are facing the negative effects of gentrification in the neighborhood. Residents of the building–which was bought by developer Barnett Capital in December—joined by the Tenants Union, the Autonomous Tenants Union (ATU) and Somos Logan Square held a press conference this morning at the Daley Plaza (50 W. Washington St.) before their first eviction court case.
Elisa Santos, one of the residents who filed the case with help from the ATU, is one of the residents being evicted. In January, her family was given a 30-day eviction notice to find new housing. As a 13-year family living in the area, she said it’s wrong to be kicked out of their apartment. It’s been difficult and they have not been able to find affordable housing in the area, she said.
“The time that they told us was to the end of February—it was freezing cold, my husband works around the clock and he is the one with the car,” Santos said. “We live check by check; it’s not like we just have money in the bank.”
Her husband, Alberto Santos, works as a tow truck driver and he said these months are especially slow. Although his employer was supportive of him taking off work to be present for the court case, he said he needs to work as much as he can to support his family.
Elisa said the goal of the court case is to stop the eviction, negotiate with Burnett Capital and receive more time to look for an apartment.
“I want them to realize we have been in our apartment for 13 years and we need time to save up money to look for a good appropriate apartment in a safe neighborhood for the kids. We don’t want to leave the neighborhood,” she said.
The ATU said the eviction is affecting elderly and disabled tenants and kids, and displacement from eviction or rapid rent increase is a constant threat to low-income tenants as gentrification continues to spread in Logan Square by big players such as Barnett Capital and Fishman & Co. and their practice of mass evictions.
Barnett is now starting the court process against the tenants at the Altgeld-Harding Tenants Union. The ATU said Barnett has neglected conditions that the tenants have presented to them and “have aggressively intimidated the tenants with construction in other units and miscommunication.”
Santos said she wakes up early in the morning to construction from a neighboring building the developer also bought and noted that construction on her building is starting, too; their porches have been torn down and new gates have been added. As of last week, there is no heat in her apartment, which she said has effected her family’s wellbeing and ability to sleep and stay healthy, adding to the stress of trying to find a new apartment.
Julia Duerst, one of the volunteers of the ATU union, spoke at the protest and shared why the union is backing the residents.
“We demand that Barnett Capital end the court process and negotiate with tenants in good faith. All of these members of the Altgeld-Harding Tenants Union and their lives and rights are far more important than Barnett Capital’s bottom line. Wanda and Elisa and their families are fighting. Stick with us against their displacement and the displacement of our neighboring communities.”
In 2016, the ATU was formed by individuals that were evicted by Barnett Capital from their home in Albany Park. That same year, ATU supported tenants in Little Village fighting against eviction by Barnett. The all-volunteer organization is committed to organizing for housing justice from below and to the left and stands to defend and enforce rights to proper housing.
The union is organizing a call-in to Burnett now to support the Harding-Altgled union. They are asking people to call Barnett’s Office and property manager Leslie Pohren and demand negotiation from the company and to end the court process. More information about the call-in can be found on the Facebook event page.
Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa has advocated on behalf of the tenants to Barnett, and so far there has been no response from Barnett to the tenants or to the alderman’s office. Santos said Barnett has made no attempts to communicate with her or other residents, aside from putting new gates around the property. At the court case today, the lawyer from Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing, representing the five residents, asked to move the case to a different court and there should be a meeting in the coming weeks with both sides.