Elizabeth Hartline received her court summons last week that told her she was being evicted from her unit at the Chateau Hotel in East Lakeview. She’s been looking for a new place to live since the end of January, when she found out that the building would be vacated, gutted and rehabbed.
But she hasn’t found much she can afford. She works at Cornerstone Community Outreach, a homeless shelter in Uptown. She lived at Cornerstone before the shelter hired her, giving her enough income to pay rent at the Chateau.
“I’ve been looking around, but what I’ve seen costs about $700 a month,” said Hartline. “I can only afford $600. I’m going to be stretching myself so thin that I won’t be able to eat.”
Hartline says about 60 residents now remain at the Chateau. Until early February, it had been operating as a single-room-occupancy hotel. It’s the fourth in the neighborhood to be shut down within the last two years. Most of her neighbors received their eviction notices last week, she says.
On Jan. 30, tenants received notices that their month-to-month leases would not be renewed. According to the Chicago Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance, that notice gives the landlord the right to evict after 30 days. Hartline says the front desk hasn’t been accepting her rent and won’t say when she or her neighbors will be forced out.
“The new owner--I’ve never met him. I’ve met people that work for him,” said Hartline. “They really don’t have any answers, either, for a lot of stuff. We’re all pretty much in the dark.”
A staff member at the Chateau front desk said she couldn’t comment on the status of the building or its residents. The building is owned by 3838 North Broadway, a limited liability corporation set up at the time of the purchase from the building’s former owner, Jack Gore.
Thursday evening, Hartline and several other Chateau residents joined the Lakeview Action Coalition and the Organization of the NorthEast in a protest outside of 46th Ward Alderman James Cappleman’s office to lament what they say is a loss of diversity. They point to Cappleman’s actions regarding affordable housing, education and crime. He hasn’t defended low-income tenants at the Chateau, spoken up against possible school closings in the neighborhood or worked with local groups on violence prevention efforts, they say.
“I am being pushed out of the Chateau,” Hartline said into a megaphone as she spoke to around 150 supporters that gathered on the sidewalk along North Broadway Street in Uptown.
Neither Cappleman nor Tressa Feher, his chief of staff, returned four calls and five emails seeking comment on the protest or the Chateau’s current status.
In January, Cappleman told the Reporter that he knows the identity of the Chateau’s new owner, but has promised not to reveal it.
On March 6, Cappleman sent out an update on the Chateau in his email newsletter.
“The owner has assured me that no one will go to a shelter if they are willing to work with the management to help them locate to safer housing at an affordable price,” wrote the alderman. “They have staff in the lobby to help each resident. I will continue to advocate for the remaining residents with the owner and with Catholic Charities to find permanent and safer housing.”
Lakeview Action Coalition’s board president, Erin Ryan, says her group has been trying to meet with Cappleman since Feb. 28 discuss ways to keep the Chateau affordable for its current residents. Ryan suggested that the alderman could encourage the city to drop fines the Chateau has incurred through building violations in exchange for keeping part or all of the building available to low-income tenants. So far, the coalition has not gotten much response from the alderman.
“We’ve been jumping through hoops, trying to meet with him. We have no choice but to take to the streets,” said Ryan, referring to Thursday’s protest.
Chateau tenant Robert Rohdenberg also spoke at Thursday’s rally. Rohdenberg says he’s lived at the Chateau for a year and a half because he’s disabled and on a fixed income.
“We need Alderman Cappleman to weigh in and positively affect this process for tenants,” he said.
Without intervention from officials, Hartline and Rohdenberg fear many tenants will be forced out without a place to go.
Hartline says her greatest fear is that she will end up seeing some of her current neighbors at her job at Cornerstone.
“Some of them will end up in a homeless shelter,” she said. “Probably mine.”