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Astor House: ‘It ain’t the best… but it’s home’

Fri, Mar 15, 2013

Daniel Pfeiffer and Lada le Horton

With a pregnant fiancé and reliance on disability aid, Daniel Pfeiffer will have nowhere else to go when he loses his apartment in the Astor House.

Located at 1246 W. Pratt Blvd., the Astor House is affordable housing in the Rogers Park neighborhood. The building was recently sold to 1246 Pratt LLC, which immediately began eviction proceedings. Pfeiffer rents a one-room apartment with a bathroom but no kitchen. Shortly after the previous building manager sold the building to 1246 Pratt LLC, he stopped getting heat in his apartment. There is no water pressure in his tub. The elevators stop working two or three times a week. Bedbugs are a serious problem.

But his apartment is all Pfeiffer can afford. After paying his rent, he has $100 a month to live on, and his rent is the lowest in the neighborhood. “You’re pushing out people who are making do with what they have,” Pfeiffer said. “What makes me stand up is that I’ve met good people here.”

Arbie Boyman, another Astor House resident, tearfully recounted the problems her 8-year-old daughter faces: extreme asthma, trauma from waking up covered in bedbugs on multiple occasions, and most recently, a heart condition. Boyman said that on top of paying higher rent, finding other housing requires money to move, money for a security deposit, a credit history and a housing history that doesn’t include living in the Astor House.

“This ain’t the best place in the world, but some people, this is what they call home!” Boyman said. “If we don’t help each other, who’s going to do it? It takes more than one to make a community.”

And that’s how Boyman and Pfeiffer describe the Astor House. They call it a community of people trying to get by. Boyman regularly checks in on the elderly who live in the building, trying to ensure that they live as comfortably as possible in the deteriorating building. Other residents babysit her daughter.

Pfeiffer started a coalition to try to save not only his building but others in the area that are closing or being rehabbed to require higher rent. He is trying to bring together low-income residents around the city to fight for their rights to housing. The Astor House is not the first of these affordable options to go.

By Ellen Garrison
StreetWise Editorial Intern

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One Response to “Astor House: ‘It ain’t the best… but it’s home’”

  1. ANON says:

    My heart goes out to everyone at the Astor house and the unfortunate demise of this once great building . I have lived there for over 8 ys and unfortunately all of this so called tenants organizing should have been conducted during the Menneti family ownership. ALL of the issues this new organization faces have been going on for entirely to long . Frankly the new owners were trying to address the major issues and SOME of the tenants could have cared less .

    While i do agree that housing SHOULD be available to ALL human beings it is our part to help maintain and care for the places that we call home and to preserve its integrity from people we invite over . People who smoked in the buildings common area, left garbage in stairwells ,drinking alcohol in public with absolutely NO regard for the children that called the Astor house home , not to mention turning a blind eye at major drug traffic….

    I had been homeless before and would NOT wish this for anyone ,however now that the options have changed once again I/WE have to go through it to become stronger individuals. Had this tenants organization structured itself against the corrupted management and old owners prior to BJB we may have ALL had a better chance to have stayed, Lastly this Lawyer is a fear monger and had NOT considered helping the tenants that paid there rent unsubsidized before obtaining a fee equivalent to one months rent ‘before even entertaining the thought “…

    GOD BLESS YOU ALL AND THE ASTOR HOUSE BUILDING

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