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Tenants, Activists Stage Funeral for Affordable Housing in Humboldt Park

By Darryl Holliday | June 1, 2015 7:57am

HUMBOLDT PARK — Affordable housing activists and tenants of a Humboldt Park building led a march Friday in protest of upcoming evictions they say could leave local residents out on the street.

Tenants at 1627 N. Humboldt Blvd. say they  are facing homelessness after a rise in rent was followed by eviction notices from building owner Hanover Hamilton Investments LLC, according to organizers with the Metropolitan Tenants Organization (MTO) and Somos Logan Square.

[DNAinfo/Darryl Holliday]

"To make matters worse, the landlord has been doing major rehab work while the tenants live in the units. [Last week] they removed a set of stairs and made all the tenants use the back entrance. The tenants have had to live with bed bugs, dust, constant interruptions and more,” organizers said in an announcement for the event.

The protest drew around 40 tenants and supporters who marched from North and Western avenues to the partly boarded-up building as part of a New Orleans-style jazz funeral, complete with a black casket.

"We're here to mourn the passing of affordable housing," MTO organizer Paul Burns told the gathered crowd. "Affordable housing, you were so good to so many people."

The situation is dire for many of the elderly and disabled residents of the building, many of whom have lived in the rapidly changing neighborhood for 30 years or more, Burns added. Residents of the building are demanding relocation assistance "so they can move with dignity," organizers of the march said.

“This protest is to support them and also highlight the crisis gentrification is creating in neighborhoods across Chicago,” they added.

The building in question is located a few feet from Humboldt Park's namesake park and less than two blocks from The 606 (also known as the Bloomingdale Trail), which is set for a grand opening June 6 but has already been a catalyst for displacement as landlords and investors take advantage of rising property values, according to local organizations like the Logan Square Neighborhood Association.

In 2013, a building less than two blocks north on the same street was purchased by Hanover Hamilton Investments LLC for nearly $4.8 million, according to a Crain’s Chicago Business article from August 2013. The building was destined for condos before the recession, according to the building’s previous owner Maven Management LLC, which bought the building for $4.6 million in 2006.

Property values have since risen dramatically, justifying yet another sale — this time with the potential for a mass eviction.

Hanover Hamilton Investments LLC principal Jill Sickle could not be reached for comment.

[DNAinfo/Darryl Holliday]

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