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Little Village Tenants Protest Evictions: 'We Will Not Be Gentrified!'

By Jackie Serrato | August 17, 2016 10:24am
 Tenants at 2622 W. Cermak Rd. protested a move to evict them from the building.
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LITTLE VILLAGE — Seven Little Village families are facing eviction from their apartment building on 2622 W. Cermak Road after it was purchased by real estate investor, Barnett Capital LTD, in April.

During a protest on Tuesday, the tenants unfurled banners from their windows that read: "Barnett Capital Stop the Eviction!" They chanted, “La Villita is unified, we will not be gentrified.”

The residents formed the Cermak Tenants Union to attempt to negotiate terms with the new owner, but they insist they’ve been unable to reach the company.

Barnett Capital acquires, develops, and manages residential real estate throughout the Midwest “with substantial reserves of ready cash,” according to its website. Officials there declined to answer questions from DNAinfo.

“There has been no person to person contact. There have been no phone calls except for the eviction notice we received,” said Ingrid Vargas, 21, who has lived in the building with her parents and sister for 15 years.

Last month, residents found a letter posted on the entrance door that was addressed to all occupants. To their shock, it gave them a 40-day notice of termination.

As the newly organized Cermak Tenants Union, they sent a letter to Barnett Capital to demand a halt to the eviction proceedings, a one-year lease at comparable rent, urgent repairs to the building and direct communication with the families in the property. They have not received a response, they say.

Vargas' family pays $500 for the three-bedroom apartment and is feeling stressed out looking for similar accommodations in her neighborhood.

“We go to church here. The surrounding area is where we stay, where we work, where we study, everything is at our fingertips,” said Vargas, referring to La Cruzada Misionera, the church next door where her dad is also employed.

Cermak Road has begun to attract real estate speculation in recent years due to its close location to the CTA Pink Line train station.

And the rising rents worry Vargas, who is considering moving to the suburbs, as well as the other affected tenants that include senior citizens, people with physical disabilities and children.

The tenants must surrender the premises on August 31. In the meantime, they have collected 180 petition signatures and are seeking community support and legal counsel.

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