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Milshire Hotel Residents Told to Find Other Housing

By Darryl Holliday | April 29, 2014 7:14am
 The longtime SRO hotel issued eviction notices to its many homeless and mentally ill tenants last week.
Milshire Hotel to Close in May, Future of Homeless Residents in Question
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LOGAN SQUARE — The Milshire Hotel, one of Chicago's few remaining single-room housing options for the troubled, will close next month, according to the building’s owner.

The residents have until May 31 to find new places to live.

“After over 43 years in the Logan Square area, I have decided to close the Milshire Hotel,” said a notice to each resident signed “Your Landlord/Friend, Art.”

“I wish you all well, and hope you find another place to live that you will be happy in.”

Darryl Holliday chats with DNAinfo Radio about the Milshire Hotel closing:

The Milshire, 2525 N. Milwaukee Ave., known as a single-room occupancy (SRO) dwelling, had become home to a rotating group of transient men and women, many with mental illnesses, alcohol and drug abuse problems, according to Thomas Bernard Finn, a 24-year resident of the hotel.

The owner could not be reached for comment but managers and residents confirmed Monday that all tenants, up to about 70 people, were handed notices last week giving them about a month to find housing elsewhere.

“I’ve seen people come and go, I’ve seen people pass away in this place,” Finn, 44, said outside the hotel Monday. “You never forget that. It’s sad."

Finn called living at the Milshire, where he said he paid a monthly rent of $545, "an adventure."

"But I can say that I will miss it and the people that were kind to me,” he said.

While Finn has a new apartment lined up in Pilsen, he worries about the many residents with mental illnesses who call the Milshire home, he said. While he estimated that about 85 percent of the Milshire's residents have found new homes, he fears the remainder could be lost in transition.

Butch Gooden expressed similar concerns as he stopped by the hotel Monday afternoon to check on a resident whom he helped off the street and into a more stable lifestyle.

“You work so hard to get them off the street — it’s like a slap in the face” to have the hotel shut down, said Gooden, an outreach coordinator at Thresholds, which provides health care and housing for people with mental illnesses.

Former Milshire resident Jeremiah Hitchings, 30, came back to his old haunt Monday after being recently released from a five-month stint at Cook County jail. Hitchings, who was looking for his mail, said he’s been homeless for nine days since being released from jail and is awaiting welfare benefits that will help him get his life back in order.

He said the Milshire was conveniently located near food pantries and grocery stores as well as bars and liquor stores, adding that the nearby Fullerton Hotel was among the few SROs still standing.

“A lot of people here might end up homeless because they can’t find a place,” he said, decked out in a full suit and tie that he salvaged from a clothing drive. 

Managers on duty at the Milshire said the building, with its iconic red neon sign located on a bustling stretch of Milwaukee Avenue, would be sold. The hotel is located between a strip of restaurants and bars, including The Rocking Horse, Wasabi and New Wave Cafe.

“It’s part of the change that’s going on in Logan Square — in with the new and out with the old,” said one manager who declined to give his name.

Online reviews of the hotel described it as dirty and run down.

Various business listings cited Arthur Fischoff as president of the hotel. Messages left for him at the hotel went unreturned.

But the owner, in his note to residents, said, “I will be sorry to leave the area."

"But because of health reasons, running the hotel has become very difficult for me,” the owner wrote. “It was a pleasure knowing those of you that have been tenants over many years.”

The Milshire Hotel will stop accepting monthly and weekly rent May 1, according to the notice.