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Tunney’s Office Seeks To Ensure Hotel Residents Find New Housing

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Ald. Tom Tunney (44th)

Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) has said the two residential hotels now in the process of closing in Lakeview are in “dangerous and deplorable” condition, but his staff wants to make sure everyone finds new housing and has their rights protected.

In a notice on his Web site last week, Tunney said upon being made aware of eviction notices at the Sheffield House Hotel, 3834 N. Sheffield Ave., and the Belair Hotel, 424 W. Diversey Pkwy., his office “immediately reached out to both the sellers and the buyer in each situation.”

He said his office has been seeking to make sure everyone finds alternative housing, and that their rights are protected, in conjunction with the city Department of Family and Support Services, the Metropolitan Tenants Organization, Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago, and the Lakeview Action Coalition.

“I have a commitment from the new owner that no one will be forcefully evicted from either building. Staff is on-site at the Belair and Sheffield House to help residents with their relocation,” Tunney said in the notice this past Wednesday. “The city will also work to ensure that residents will be treated with respect.”

The Belair announced July 13 that it would close on Monday, Aug. 15, and its 250 tenants would have to leave, the Windy City Times reported. The Sheffield House, formerly known as the Hotel Carlos, announced July 28 and 29 that it was “closed effective immediately for repairs” and everyone had to leave.

At the Sheffield House, the notice ordering residents to pack up and move out was posted on July 29, but was taken down when CBS 2’s Mai Martinez and her crew began asking questions. But residents were livid.
“Right now, I’m sort of like, see I’m packing up most of my stuff,” resident Keith Jackson said on July 29. “I’m packing up my stuffed animals, my clothes, my blankets.”

Jackson had to pack up all his belongings after getting a notice from the new management at Sheffield House, stating: “Please remove all your belongings from the unit and vacate the building no later than 1 p.m. on July 29, 2011.”

Published reports say in the time since, the management at the Sheffield House has allowed some tenants to stay. The Skyline newspaper reported that about 30 remained as of last week, and some said they would have no place to go once the hotel kicked them out.

The Belair housed month-to-month residents, but also marketed itself as a conventional hotel for those who stay out late at the nearby bars. The Skyline reported that about 45 tenants remained in the building as of last week, and one of them reported being subject to “harassing calls” by hotel management demanding to know when they were going to clear out.

At a meeting organized by the Lakeview Action Coalition last week, the remaining tenants of the hotels resolved to write letters to the owners of the property, although they had difficulty determining the new owner of the Belair, the Skyline reported.

Critics have questioned the legality of the decisions to close the hotels.

Regarding the Sheffield House, eviction attorney Rich Magnone said in July that it’s illegal for the management company to force tenants out of their units without giving them more notice. He said that, generally a week or 30 days notice is required, based on whether they were weekly or monthly renters.

Tunney has said both the Belair and the Sheffield House were in extremely poor condition, and were both the subject of court cases for violating city codes. A vacate order was already in place for the Sheffield House if the violations were not corrected by October, Tunney wrote.

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