Chicagoans protest Evictions, 2009

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Timing
Time Period:  
Time period notes: 
2009 to 2010
July
2009
to
May
2010
Location and Goals
Country: 
United States
Location City/State/Province: 
Chicago, Illinois
Location Description: 
Northside Chicago, Roger Park
Goals: 
Low-income Chicagoans pressured Northpoint to stop evicting residents and to fix-up their residences.
 

Following the financial crisis of 2008, landlords evicted many residents in Chicago who could not pay their rent, and banks repossessed homes with overdue mortgages. Northpoint is one such entity, which manage the residences of Section 8 housing in the Rogers Park area of north Chicago. To live in these houses, tenants pay a fixed portion of their income as rent.

In Rogers Park, many residents were evicted in summer of 2009. Among the first to oppose the expulsion was Erica Bledsoe, who was not only grieving her mother’s loss, but also facing eviction of her nieces and nephews alongside her. Erica, daughter of the deceased Rosetta Bledsoe (original guardian of the children), consulted Matt Monahan and Nicki Bazer from the Legal Assistance Foundation, where she informed herself on attaining support for her campaign.

In July 2009, the community organized a vigil in memory of Rosetta Bledsoe. Those gathered for the vigil shared a feeling of defiance against the evictions. After the vigil, Frank Edwards, community organizer, Megan Cottrel, activist and blogger, Northside Action for Justice and International Socialist Organization joined together to form an alliance.

This coalition led the campaign against eviction through canvassing, petition signing and media outreach. They specifically reached out through phone and email to the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Illinois Housing Development Agency. These agencies distribute federal funds to Northpoint, the subsidizer demanding the eviction of the Bledsoe family. Northpoint was using their funds to have private lawyers help them evict families. The activists informed the funders of their campaign. Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky wrote a letter in support of the anti-eviction campaign.

Private security hired by Northpoint and the Chicago Transit Authority harassed activists who were canvassing and petitioning for the campaign against unjust eviction. A local alderman of the 49th ward of Chicago claimed that they were evicting the Bledsoe family for “possible illegal activities” within the home. After he learned about the support letter from congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, however, he became a supporter of the campaign.

The coalition held a protest in front of the regional offices of Housing and Urban Development, on October 5th 2009, a few days before the court date for Erica Bledsoe. The morning of the protest, Housing and Urban Development resolved the case in favor of the Bledsoe family, and the protest was changed into an improvised press conference where signed petitions were handed to a Housing and Urban Development representative who came down to meet the activists.

In May of 2010, Carol Vialdores, mother of five, protested her eviction by marching up with a dozen media members and 25 activists to the federal building for a press conference in front of the regional offices of HUD. Campaigners were targeting Northpoint for unjust evictions. Tenants referenced the mismanagement of their properties as another complaint against Northpoint. This accusation drew more support for the campaign against the persistent evictions.

Residents and allies collected community member signatures for a petition against the unjust eviction and handed these to Ed Hinsberger, the hub director for Chicago for HUD. Ed Hinsberger agreed to meet with Vialdores and Holly Krig ,anti-eviction campaign organizer. This meeting resulted in a meeting between the director of the Illinois Housing Development and apartment investment and management company (AIMCO). In the end, Carol Vialdores, like Erica Bledsoe, won her case against Northpoint, allowing her to continue living in her house.

Research Notes
Influences: 

not known

Sources: 
Progress Illinois: Rally Cap: Chicago family saved from Eviction

http://progressillinois.com/2009/10/5/rally-cap-family-eviction

The Socialist Worker: Chicago Victory over Eviction http://socialistworker.org/2009/10/12/chicago-victory-over-eviction

The Socialist Worker: Protesting Evictions in Chicago

http://socialistworker.org/2010/05/07/protesting-evictions-in-chicago

True Slant: Victory for Chicago Family Facing Eviction

http://trueslant.com/megancottrell/2009/11/09/victory-for-chicago-family-facing-eviction/

Name of researcher, and date dd/mm/yyyy: 
Gustavo Garibay 09/22/2013