EDGEWATER — More than 1,000 people, many of whom had camped out overnight, flocked to Edgewater on Wednesday and waited in line for a chance to get affordable housing for their families.
They were there in response to newspaper advertisements about government subsidized housing opportunities for low-income families in Chicago.
The ads told people to show up Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and apply at 5206 N. Sheridan Rd., where residential real estate and management firm the Kopley Group has an office.
The line on Wednesday stretched north from the office down Sheridan and snaked around the corner at West Berwyn Avenue. Most those waiting were women, many accompanied by multiple family members or carrying young children.
Some people even slept in line overnight, just for the chance to apply for an apartment and potentially end up on a waiting list, with no guarantee their applications would be accepted.
A security guard monitoring the line estimated at least 1,500 people showed up Wednesday. He said that the event "gives an idea of how bad the economy is," and that he understood the elation from applicants who left the line cheering and hugging one another in celebration despite no promise of housing.
"If you do get it, it's as good as the lottery. You get a roof over your head," he said.
A 42-year-old woman from south suburban Lansing, who said she was diagnosed with cancer about two years ago didn't cheer, but walked away from the line with an application and a smile.
"My income situation significantly changed [after the diagnosis]," she said, citing medical bills and a decreased ability to work.
She said she would be applying for a two-bedroom apartment for her and her 16-year-old son.
A 28-year-old mother from Uptown said her mom tipped her off about the housing opportunity after reading an ad in Red Eye. The woman said she shares a one-bedroom apartment in Uptown with her husband and their toddler son.
"It would be nice for my son to have his own room," she said.
CBS Chicago reported "a few hundred," subsidized units were available, at most.
A DePaul University study released earlier this year found a growing need for affordable housing on Chicago's North Side and noted "a growing gap between the supply of and demand for affordable rental housing," in the city.