Woman may lose custody of niece over eviction from Rogers Park subsidized unit; rally Tuesday

Woman may lose custody of niece over eviction from Rogers Park subsidized unit; rally Tuesday

Merlene Robinson-Parsons says she calls Sheriff Tom Dart's office every day, asking if she's on that day's list. So far, she hasn't been, but she always worries about the next one.

The list is of Cook County residents who, after having been evicted, are slated to be physically removed from their homes, their belongings piled in the street, if they haven't already left.

Parsons stood in front of a small group of reporters Friday outside the management office of her apartment building, Northpoint Apartments, in Rogers Park.

"I didn't even want it to go this far," said Parsons, gesturing to the microphone and crowd of supportive neighbors behind her. "I just wanted to keep my apartment so I can keep this little girl. This is her home. This is her community."

Parsons, a 29-year resident of Northpoint, is the guardian of her 3 year-old great-niece Lamariana. She had her last court date July 27, where she asked for more time before the order of possession for her unit at 7717 N. Paulina went forward.

Her motion was denied. She was evicted for nonpayment of rent, a charge she doesn't deny. After her husband left her in May, she could no longer afford the $850 monthly rent payment.

Parsons didn't have a laywer, and she didn't know that she was eligible for a rent adjustment based on her change in income.

She makes $800 a month.

Even though she says she's gathered her back rent, $2,245 dollars she had to ask family and friends for, the property manager at Northpoint reportedly refuses to accept it and Parsons says she's told her she has to go.

The real problem, Parsons says, is Lamariana.

Parsons has been taking care of the little girl since July 2010 when she was taken away from her mother after she witnessed the death of her little sister, who drowned in the bathtub. Parsons goes to court later this month to get permanent custody of Lamariana, but without adequate housing, the state will likely take the little girl away.

I tried to talk to Kimberly Boyd, manager of Northpoint Apartments. She referred me to AIMCO's corporate office. I reached out to AIMCO, the national company that owns Northpoint. Spokeswoman Cindy Duffy did not respond.

I inquired with the Department of Housing and Urban Development office here in Chicago. Spokeswoman Laura Feldman said their office isn't involved in the matter and referred me to the Illinois Housing Development Authority.

I contacted IHDA. Spokeswoman Rebecca Boykin said the agency was looking into the matter.

It's not the first time I've stood outside Northpoint Apartments, looking for answers on an eviction case. I spent a lot of time there in 2009, talking with Erica Bledsoe, another resident who was facing eviction. Blesdoe took guardianship of her nieces and nephew after her mother, who had taken care of them, died suddenly.

Because Bledsoe wasn't on the lease, Boyd moved to evict the family, even though the children had a legal claim to the apartment subsidy that belonged to their grandmother.

Bledsoe was eventually allowed to stay. HUD intervened on her behalf. She still lives there.

Much like Erica did three years ago, Parsons and her supporters from the community will gather tomorrow morning outside the HUD offices in downtown Chicago to ask for a meeting with Ed Hinsberger, HUD's Chicago multifamily hub director.

Until she gets one, Parsons says she will keep calling the sheriff's office each morning, hoping today isn't her day.


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