On Saturday morning, tenants of 1246 W. Pratt will fan out across developer Jamie Purcell’s neighborhood to inform his neighbors about how he treats the residents in his buildings. Afterward, they will present him with their own eviction notice at his Park Ridge home.
Tenants are fed up with the mass evictions carried out by his company, BJB, which is in the process of raising the rent in the building. Meanwhile tenants endure heat and hot water shut-offs, mice, roaches and bedbugs, broken elevators, and fire safety violations.
“A lot of people are low-income and elderly—they could be our parents. This hits them very hard,” says tenant Freddie St. Clair.
Tenants expect to begin passing out leaflets around 10:45 a.m. Saturday in Park Ridge. Their bus leaves from Rogers Park’s Astor House building, at 1246 W. Pratt, at 10 a.m. They will be joined by supporters from Northside Action for Justice, Metropolitan Tenants Organization, and Communities United Against Foreclosure and Eviction.
At Tuesday night’s tenant meeting, people shared horrifying stories of new eviction notices, abuse, and breaches of privacy by the building management. They unified around two demands. First: That BJB negotiate in good faith with tenants, in accordance with the law. Second: that the company remove its evictions from people’s records.
“He is taking away the only affordable housing left on the North Side,” tenant Melvin Jennings says of developer Jamie Purcell. It’s nearly impossible for tenants to find a place to live once they are forced out. “He is not concerned about tenants’ credit ratings being messed up from the eviction on their credit report,” Jennings adds.
Tenants say these problems are evidence of a citywide pattern of abuse by BJB. Mark Brown’s Chicago Sun-Times column published April 4 shows the company did the same thing at the Abbott Hotel, shutting off heat and water without waiting for evictions to run their course. Brown says that in that case, BJB exhibited “blatant disregard for the health and welfare of the tenants.” Lakeview Action Coalition is also embroiled in a battle with the company over its evictions of residents from the Hotel Chateau building.
Melvin Jennings wants to know: “Who is letting him do this? It reminds you of an old western—when the railroad is about to come through, the outlaws come and set fire to things and kill your cattle to get your land for the developers.”
WHAT: Tenants will inform developer Jamie Purcell’s neighbors about the campaign of mass evictions and displacement that his company, “Bedbugs, Board-Ups and Bad News” BJB Properties, is carrying out against low-income tenants.
WHO: Residents of Rogers Park’s Astor House Building and supporters from Northside Action for Justice, Metropolitan Tenants Organization and Communities United Against Foreclosure and Eviction
WHEN & WHERE: Bus leaves from 1246 W. Pratt at 10 a.m. Saturday April 6. Tenants will begin giving information to Purcell’s neighbors in Park Ridge at 10:45 a.m. and will gather back together for an action around 11:20 a.m.