LOGAN SQUARE — The fight to keep the Milshire Hotel affordable took to the streets Tuesday night as nearly 100 people met at The Eagle monument before marching to the Logan Square SRO.
Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd) joined the crowd to support a plan that would preserve the transient hotel for low-income men and women in the neighborhood. A wave of privatization in public and affordable housing “sets a bad trend for what we want to see in our neighborhood,” he said.
Waguespack added that he’s sent a letter to Milshire owner Art Fischoff that “outlines what I’d like to see happen here.” He also noted plans to reach out to Logan Square landlord Mark Fishman, who the city recently listed as a potential contract buyer for the hotel.
If the contract is binding, Fishman’s company is already tied to any decision made at the hotel, though a pending SRO ordinance could alter plans on both sides.
Waguespack and organizers of the rally said they support an alternative buyer for the Milshire that has promised to keep the longstanding hotel open to low-income residents. Waguespack said his office is in talks with that nonprofit, Renaissance Social Services Inc., to put together a package that could compete with private developers in a bid for the Milshire.
A final proposal could include using Tax Increment Financing money to renovate the ailing hotel.
The Rev. Bruce Ray said he’s often asked why activists want to save the Milshire — a rundown building infested with bed bugs to the point where bite marks on tenants were presented as evidence in a recent court case involving the tenants union.
“This is substandard housing,” he said, pointing to the Milshire. “We don’t want substandard housing, we want affordable housing.”
Another organizer of the rally spoke of Ernesto Garcia, a homeless man who was remembered with a vigil at the neighborhood square Sept. 11 after he was beaten to death in Logan Square Aug. 30.
“If Logan Square had affordable housing perhaps Ernesto would still be here,” she told the crowd.
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