After months of waiting, the Lakeview Action Coalition (LAC), a handful of Chateau Hotel (3838 N. Broadway) tenants, Ald. Tom Tunney (44th Ward) and Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd Ward) met with Jamie Purcell, owner of BJB Properties, this past Friday to discuss plans for assisting displaced tenants from Purcell’s recently acquired properties in Lakeview and surrounding areas. The group sought a commitment from Purcell to keep 100 percent of the housing in the Abbott Hotel (721 W. Belmont Ave) and the Chateau affordable for its low-income tenants, and to preserve 50 percent affordability in other area properties such as the Sheffield House (3834 N. Sheffield Ave), the Ambers Hotel (1632 W. Belmont Ave) and the Belair Hotel (424 W. Diversey Pkwy).
Purcell guarantees nothing, said Keith Burnett, a Chateau resident.
He did, however, agree to work with the LAC in observing subsidy options that may allow some low-income residents to remain in these properties. Possible subsidies include Low Income Housing Trust Fund units, CHA Property Rental Assistance, Multi-year Affordability through Upfront Investment, New Federal HUD funding, Tax Breaks (Class 9), and Energy Conservation Grants. Purcell agreed to meet with the LAC in two or three weeks to discuss these options after further research has been conducted by the LAC.
“It was a good meeting,” said Ald. Tunney. “We want to emphasize that we really need to try to make sure that Mr. Purcell is well aware of all the programs he and his attorneys [could utilize]. I believe his commitment is to keep trying.”
Tenants of the Chateau did not share the alderman’s optimism. “We don’t know that he’s trying,” said Robert Rhodenburg, who has lived in the Chateau for the past year-and-a-half. “It sounds like he’s not totally against it, but I don’t think he’s fully participating in what’s available.”
“We are disappointed with the results of our meeting,” Burnett said. Purcell expressed no interest in returning displaced tenants, allowing rent restrictions for new tenants not on subsidy, or ignoring past evictions or misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies when conducting two-year background checks on potential tenants.
Burnett stated that Purcell did not agree with the LAC’s definition of affordable housing: rent and utilities should not exceed 30 percent of the renter’s income and should never surpass $500 a month. Purcell was unavailable to comment as he left the meeting without speaking to the press.
“Affordable housing can mean diversity—one of the main reasons I first moved to Lakeview in 1989,” Rhodenburg said. “I want to stay in the area. My storage unit is in the area. My social service agencies are in the area… I have to move out of the Chateau, maybe, but [I want to] stay in the area.”
The LAC estimates that 33 tenants remain in the Chateau. Some of those that have moved have found new homes through Catholic Charities and the Department of Family & Support Services (DFSS).
Ald. James Cappleman (46th Ward) was not invited to the meeting, but responded to the opportunity to share his opinions on affordable housing and diversity in Uptown in an exclusive interview published in our next StreetWise magazine available this Wednesday, April 17. The issue also includes the interview highlights from seven other aldermen including Ald. Waguespack.
Written by Ethan Ross,
StreetWise Editorial Intern