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Needless to say, I was depressed and disturbed to read the news this weekend that three people died in a senior housing facility in Rogers Park. After temperatures soared into the 90s last week, the kinds of sudden temperature swings that will only become more and more common because of global warming, it's distressing that people living in a senior facility could be left in these conditions, resulting in their deaths. Residents reported experiencing "oven-like" conditions in their units, and said that they were afraid to go to sleep while their homes were so hot. Despite the efforts of Alderwoman Maria Hadden, who is now calling for an investigation into the incident, any attempts to cool the building down were made too late for Delores McNeely, Janice Reed, and Gwendolyn Osborne, who all passed away in the heat.
These conditions did not occur in just any apartment building. They happened at the James Sneider apartments, a senior living facility owned by Hispanic Housing Development Corp., one of the city's largest nonprofit housing providers. Disturbingly, Hispanic Housing's CEO, Paul Roldan, was paid $2,208,365 in 2019, accounting for more than 16 percent of the organization's revenues, making him the nation's seventh-highest paid nonprofit CEO that year. Meanwhile, in addition to the three deaths that happened this weekend, Hispanic Housing has also been found to have poorly maintained a veteran's housing facility in Humboldt Park, and also had to pay $1.5 million in fines in a class-action lawsuit for not informing tenants of their rights. Taken together, all of these facts reveal a distressing pattern of neglect and disregard for the lives of tenants, all from a company that's been charged with providing housing to those who need it most.
Clearly, we need major changes. We fully support Alderwoman Hadden's plans to investigate Hispanic Housing for the deaths that happened this weekend, and hope that accountability will be possible. But we need to go further. Why is it possible for a nonprofit CEO to take in millions of dollars in salary, while his company cannot even treat its own residents with basic care? Why are these tenants not afforded the basic protections like Just Cause that they deserve, especially when the Chicago Rehab Network, the umbrella organization representing Hispanic Housing and other nonprofit owners in Chicago, continues to oppose the legislation? These are vital questions that we must ask if we are to win Just Cause, and to ensure that renters in all buildings have the safe, stable, and healthy housing they deserve.
If you'd like to learn more about why we need nonprofit housing providers to take responsibility for their role in blocking further protections for Chicago's renters, like those who suffered through the heat last week, please reach out today. There's a lot more we need to do to hold them accountable, and we need your support to make it happen.