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Cappleman's 'War on the Poor'? Rogers Park Activists to Protest in Uptown

By  Adeshina Emmanuel and Benjamin Woodard | March 6, 2013 10:59am | Updated on March 6, 2013 3:00pm

 Occupy Rogers Park blasted Ald. James Cappleman (46th) in these images found on the group's Facebook page.
Occupy Rogers Park blasted Ald. James Cappleman (46th) in these images found on the group's Facebook page.
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Occupy Rogers Park

UPTOWN — Rogers Park activists​ ​plan to show solidarity with their neighbors to the south in​ ​a demonstration outside the Uptown​ office of Ald. James Cappleman (46th) Wednesday evening.

The protest is in response to Cappleman's recent dustup with the Salvation Army and affordable housing controversies that have smoldered in the area this winter. Cappleman recently promised more advocacy for the homeless and to work with the Salvation Army, but some people are not satisfied.

Occupy Rogers Park, which accused Cappleman of a "war on the poor," announced its support for Uptown activists on Twitter this week.

Occupy Rogers Park member Jim Gin​derske, who lost in the 49th Ward aldermanic race in 2007, accused Cappleman of “slowly trying to chip away at these services under the radar,” and said the alderman is “getting increasingly desperate" to impress his upper middle-class, property-value focused base.

Housing issues in Uptown "are absolutely going to have a big impact on the Rogers Park neighborhood," Gin​derske said, adding that "The resources that homeless folks use there are absolutely key to the homeless people in the North Side of Chicago.

“They're regional concerns,” he said.​

Activists list numerous greviences with Cappleman when it comes to housing for poor people.

Residents at the Chateau Hotel, a single-room-occupancy building for low-income people, are seeking new homes after being issued eviction notices from the building, where rent will soon  more than double. Cappleman has refused to support their fight against eviction and will not reveal who bought the building.

In January, North Side activists marched on real estate mogul Jay Michael's Gold Coast home in the name of affordable housing. Michael is a partner at FLATS Chicago, which has bought distressed properties throughout the North Side with plans of renovating them and hiking rent to the market rate. He is also on an advisory council for Uptown United, an economic development organization.

In late February, an advisory committee created by Cappleman voted to compromise the 20 percent affordable housing requirement for residential developments seeking TIF assistance when it came to a $220 million luxury project by the lake. One committee member who opposes any affordable housing in the development, is a real estate agent Mark Zipperer, who's contributed thousands of dollars to Cappleman's campaign fund.

Cappleman also has been criticized for efforts to close the Wilson Men's Hotel, one of the city's last "cubicle hotels" geared toward low-income people. The hotels have been scrutinized for poor living conditions.

Cappleman could not be reached for comment Tuesday, and his chief of staff, Tressa Feher, had no comment about the protest, or about claims by activists that the alderman is allied with real estate developers looking to gentrify the neighborhood.

Micah Uetricht, 25, lives in Uptown and works as a labor organizer in Edgewater. Uetricht argued that home prices have skyrocketed on the Far North Side in the last decade or so.

"It's clear that gentrification is happening all over the North side — in Uptown, Edgewater and Rogers Park," Uetricht said. "I think the reason that so many people have been angry about this [Salvation Army] incident is that a lot of people see Cappleman pushing that type of agenda."