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This morning, the publication Next City published "Tired of Mold, Mice and Bad Management, Chicago Tenants Take a Stand." The piece, written by Next City staff writer Roshan Abraham, shows the abject conditions that tenants like Jolondon Jamerson face in their homes, and the severe consequences they face anytime they try to raise concerns about what they're experiencing. Jamerson, who's lived in the same building in Chatham for the past 17 years, had put up for years with horrible conditions, dealing with "mold, mice, broken doors, lack of working smoke detectors and heat shut-offs in the winter." She didn't raise concerns about the conditions for years, until she learned that other tenants in her building were fighting together to tell the management company, BSD Realty, that they'd had enough.
Unsurprisingly but unfortunately, speaking out had severe consequences for Jamerson. She was immediately met with threats of eviction, demands to pay months of back rent that the company could not document she hadn't paid, and other forms of retaliation. Others in similar situations in BSD buildings faced violent responses as well, with one tenant having their door kicked in and their possessions removed from the unit. While many of these practices are illegal, the underlying truth remains: without Just Cause for Eviction, which prevents evictions where tenants are not at fault, and a proactive rental inspection system, which would require companies like BSD to keep their buildings in decent condition without requiring tenant requests for inspection, we leave renters in disinvested neighborhoods to face the worst conditions possible. Between rising rents, low wages, poor housing conditions, and no tenant security, we know that these families are often unable to find refuge in the place they call home.
Thankfully, the Just Cause for Eviction campaign is working more closely with the Chicago Healthy Homes Ordinance (CHHO) campaign. Through organizations like the Metropolitan Tenants Organization, which helps tenants organize and resist harmful landlord behaviors, we're organizing for a future where renters are not vulnerable to the worst abuses of their landlords. While the battle to get both bills passed has been difficult, we believe this budding partnership will strengthen our position on both bills, and will give us additional support as we imagine what a more hopeful future for Chicago's Black and Brown renters looks like.
We appreciate Next City for covering both ordinances, and for making the connections that too many elected officials have refused to make. Without prioritizing both the health and stability of renters in our city, we will continue to struggle with the same issues facing our communities. Renters deserve to be full participants in their communities, and our campaigns are working to make that a reality.