Low Income Housing | Letters | Chicago Reader

Low Income Housing 

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To the editors:

Thanks for your piece [Neighborhood News, May 1] about Pam Gore and her low rent hotels. More could (and should) be written not only about the hotels but about low income rental housing. The few private entrepreneurs still running low rent multiunit buildings are a disappearing species. We are being driven out by the very things Ms. Gore cites: i.e. tenant rights, high taxes and rising utility costs.

A certain number are classic slumlords but that's truly a small percent. Most try to run their buildings while dealing with certain realities. Those realities often include dealing with a class of people that is basically unhousable. No one wants them including the CHA, because of their failure to pay rent plus the drugs, crime and destruction of the buildings they cause. Repairs that are made are destroyed again and again. If repairs are not made you are a "slumlord" and are harassed by tenant's rights agencies/lawyers and the courts. When you try to evict, no matter how good your case, you may wait up to four months while the tenant pays no rent and destroys the apartment. Not only do you incur legal fees, you have lost substantial rent and must pay to repair and rerent the apartment.

Small wonder there are fewer and fewer of us or that we increasingly discriminate on a variety of real or perceived problems including race. It is a fact in the city that a vast majority of the crime and tenant problems are caused by low income blacks. If you doubt, check the crime and eviction records. If you could remove someone in a two or even a four week period you would be more willing to take a chance and give a marginal applicant the benefit of the doubt. A stricter approach by the courts would also cause people to behave more responsibly (not only in housing but perhaps with crime).

One result of driving low income property operators out of the business, along with tighter rental standards, is an increase in homeless people. They become a burden on Government (taxpayers) and spawn organizations like the Lakefront SRO attempting to fill the gap. They do a decent job but barely make a dent in the need and operate at a great loss, surviving only due to government and corporate largess. They get a lot of great press, but will never solve the problem.

There must be an incentive for private entrepreneurs to be involved with low income housing i.e. a profit potential. Profit is not a dirty word as most tenant's rights organizations believe. Profitable buildings will be well maintained and successful owners will add to their stock.

Thank you.

Sorry, name withheld. I cannot afford the harassment or investigations this letter would cause.

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