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El Ruisenor Day Care in Rogers Park Faces Eviction at Any Time, Owner Says

By Benjamin Woodard | November 22, 2013 6:30am
 The parents of the 21 students who attend the facility would be forced to find child care elsewhere.
El Ruisenor Day Care
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ROGERS PARK — Maria Calvillo knows that any day now, sheriff's deputies could come knocking at the front door of her day care, El Ruisenor Learning Center, serving a notice of eviction.

The single-family house at 7462 N. Ridge Blvd. has been the daytime home to dozens of neighborhood children since 2008.

But Calvillo, the owner and operator, said she couldn't keep up with mortgage payments of $2,500 a month.

"We don't want to lose the place," she said this week, while sitting on a kid-sized chair inside the home, as the 21 young children who currently attend the facility ate lunch. "It's a community house here — and a day care."

About half of the kids in the program receive assistance from the state to pay tuition, which ranges from $25 a day for pre-K to $65 a day for infants, she said. But with space for as many as 50 kids, Calvillo said she fell behind on payments, and her requests to try and lower them with her lender at the time, Fannie Mae, went nowhere.

Calvillo hasn't owned the property — or made any kind of payments on a mortgage — for three years, since Fannie Mae took control of the property in a foreclosure in 2010, according to Calvillo and court records.

In March, the property was purchased by Nationwide Advantage Mortgage Company, which intends to evict Calvillo.

Nationwide spokeswoman Nancy Smeltzer said in a statement that the company was "attempting to secure possession of the property.

"In this situation, there were no viable options available to avoid foreclosure," she said.

Fannie Mae declined to comment since it no longer owns the home, but spokesman Andrew Wilson said in general, "we want to prevent foreclosures whenever we possibly can."

Calvillo said she and her family had been in and out of court trying to fight eviction and save the house her family purchased for $320,000 before the housing market crash.

The family also said it spent tens of thousands of dollars to convert the home to a day-care facility.

Calvillo's son, Jorge Ortiz, said the family's attorney told him there are no more options left in the courtroom to stall the eviction.

"He was trying to throw out the order for possession and allow us to negotiate, but at minimum, was trying to buy us more time," Ortiz said.

They hoped a benefactor would come along and buy the home from the bank, he said.

Now Ortiz and his mother say they plan to stage protests outside Fannie Mae's downtown offices — alongside neighborhood group Communities United Against Foreclosure and Eviction and Occupy Rogers Park — in a final effort to rekindle negotiations.

Kevin Brown, spokesman for Communities United, said "it would be a shame if [the day care] went away and just stayed vacant."

For 55-year-old Cavillo, this was not the first time she has faced an imminent eviction.

She said she lost her nearby personal home, where she had lived for 14 years, in 2009 when she couldn't get Fannie Mae or the private bank that took over that loan to negotiate with her. She was evicted this past June and now stays with family and at times, at the day care.

"We really haven't had a positive response from the bank," said Calvillo, even though the community has shown its support for her and El Ruisenor, which translates to "The Nightingale" in English. "I'm doing something positive, I'm doing something good for the community. We are so angry about the situation."

Diana Guijosa, 33, said she has been teaching at the day care for two years. Her children, aged 1 and 3, both attend.

She praised the day care's commitment to organic food and bilingual instruction.

"Everybody's very happy here, and the kids like the place," Guijosa said, "We need the home back."

She said Calvillo helps pay for whatever she can't afford of her kids tuition.

"It’s going to affect so much," she said. "We don’t have a lot of money, and if they were to close, its going cause a lot problems."