CHICAGO (CBS) — With more than 750,000 people filing for unemployment in Illinois since March, and rent and other bills coming due on May 1, protesters are pressing government leaders to give tenants more relief.
Organizers have turned Daley Plaza into what they have dubbed Pritzkerville. They created a tent city in the plaza as other protesters circled the block in a caravan of cars demanding Gov. JB Pritzker take more action on behalf of struggling renters during the COVID-19 pandemic.
They want to see all rent and mortgage payments cancelled for the full duration of the statewide stay-at-home order and for three more months following.
Protesters also have called on the governor to lift the state’s ban on rent control, but Pritzker repeatedly has said he doesn’t have the authority to do so, and it’s up to the Illinois General Assembly to change the law.
MAY 1st is tomorrow.
Rent is due.
Protesters set up “Pritzkerville” tent city & car caravan outside Chicago’s Daley Center, demanding governor take action & offer relief to renters during pandemic.
— Eric Cox (@EricCoxTV) April 30, 2020
The Illinois Department of Employment Security has said more than 755,000 people have filed for unemployment since March 1, and protesters said the governor’s moratorium on evictions and the city’s rental assistance program have not been enough to address the problems facing tenants.
“Without any real law, something to enforce what we want, Illinois residents, Chicago residents are not going to be protected,” said Rod Burns, executive director of the Lugenia Burns Hope Center, a non-profit in Bronzeville.
On Wednesday, Mayor Lori Lightfoot made a “Housing Solidarity Pledge” with several landlords, lenders, and advocacy organizations. The pledge is a series of recommendations for both city landlords and renters to communicate their needs and plans as the stay-at-home order stretches into the end of May.
Some of the proposed plans under the pledge include offering grace periods for rent payments, written repayment plans, and eliminating late fees for missed rent payments.
However, protesters say some groups who made the pledge aren’t honoring the commitment. They claimed Stuart Handler, vice president of the Chicagoland Apartment Association, runs a company that filed for seven evictions in the last week.
Protesters said Handler’s company is one of at least six that have filed for evictions, despite being a part of the pledge.
Handler and others accused of violating the pledge did not immediately respond to the protesters’ claims.