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Astor House Tenants, Activists Once Again Take Aim at Ald. Joe Moore

By Benjamin Woodard | September 6, 2013 3:03pm
 Tenants at the 13-story building protested after facing eviction, activists said.
Astor House
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ROGERS PARK — Bed bugs, busted elevators and unlawful evictions are some of the complaints Astor House tenants have shared with Ald. Joe Moore (49th).

And they say he hasn't done enough to help them.

Since BJB Properties, and principal Jamie Purcell, took over the building at 1246 W. Pratt Blvd. last year, tenants have claimed they've being pushed out as the new owners renovate the 13-story building and rent units for more money than some current residents can afford.

Following a prayer vigil held outside Moore's office late last month to convince Moore to broker a deal between the tenants and BJB, activists released a statement this week saying the 22-year veteran alderman "distorts the facts.

"The mischaracterization of the Astor House tenants and supporting organizations is troubling coming from an Alderman who touts his 'decades-long advocacy of tenants’ rights,'” the activists said, quoting in part a public statement issued by Moore on Aug. 21.

"While Moore's statement says that BJB desires 'any tenant in good standing to remain in the building during the repairs,' there were tenants who were relocated to other united on temporary leases while their units were being repaired," who were then evicted, the activists claim. "One former tenant was evicted after being denied a week's extension on rent, which was needed due to an extended stay in the hospital."

The Lawyers' Committee for Better Housing even took up the case and continues to work with two tenants who are fighting evictions. The property is currently in building court.

"They've done a great disservice to these tenants because they’re now forced to find new housing and come up with the money to do that," said Victoria Ogunsanya, the staff attorney managing the cases.

Ogunsanya said Friday that Moore could do more for the tenants.

"The letter he sent out to tenants makes it sound like he doesn’t trust this tenant group," she said. "It just doesn't seem like he’s behind the issue."

But Moore still says he's "standing by ready" to advocate for any tenant that has a "legitimate grievance."

"We have made repeated efforts to reach out to the tenants," Moore said Friday in an email. "They have not responded. There is not much more that I can do."