LOGAN SQUARE — Tenants of the Milshire Hotel have filed a legal complaint against the hotel’s owner over a string of allegations, from faulty building equipment to rat and bedbug infestation.
The complaint is one more step by organizers and tenants, who have created a group called the Milshire Tenants Union, to slow down or stop relocation of up to 70 transient residents of the hotel, some of whom suffer from mental illnesses or alcohol or drug abuse.
“The tenants in the Milshire have a legal position that I think could preclude them being evicted,” said the group's attorney, Mark Swartz, legal director of the Lawyers' Committee for Better Housing. “I try not to be pessimistic and assume that whenever there are evictions or a threat of evictions it's a foregone conclusion the tenants need to move.”
The Milshire, 2525 N. Milwaukee Ave., known as a single-room occupancy, or SRO, dwelling, announced in April that the building would be sold, and all of its residents would have to leave within 30 days.
That first 30 days passed with little incident, and, on May 31, the eviction notice typed and signed by hotel owner Arthur Fischoff went largely unheeded. On June 6 Arlo Hotel Corp., Fischoff's company, served the tenants with a seven-day notice, according to the complaint filed by Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing.
Fischoff has declined to publicly comment on the Milshire since his letter was distributed to Milshire tenants in April.
While some Milshire residents have sought new housing in the intervening month, other residents in the mostly rotating group of transient men and women have stayed and are in need of social and medical services, according to Terry Enright, an organizer with the tenants union.
Milshire management began "decreasing services in the building around June 16," the complaint alleges — it later interfered with services “by discontinuing supply of toilet paper to residents and by cutting cable services.”
“Furthermore, [Arlo Hotel Corp] through its agent(s) has verbally threatened to cut electricity and to remove hotel furniture from the tenants’ rooms,” according to the complaint.
Lawyers for Better Housing attorneys allege that the Milshire is in violation of the city’s beg bug ordinance and has created a dangerous environment by not fixing elevators and other building services.
Photos detailing bedbug bites and signed affidavits from Milshire residents allege that Milshire management is creating a public hazard by failing to get rid of bed bugs before requiring tenants to move into new housing. As such, the complaint requests a preliminary or permanent injunction against Milshire owners until the Milshire is in compliance.
The complaint also alleges retaliatory violations by Arlo Hotel Corp. against the Milshire Tenants Union after they formed an organization aimed at advancing their claims.
“[The tenants] are just waiting to see what happens legally, and that is up to the attorney at this point,” Enright said. “This is the tricky stuff.”
“We’re trying to get them to step out and go to social services to get help.”
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