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Families Fight Back Against Imminent Eviction In Logan Square As Displacement Fears Ratchet

By Stephen Gossett in News on Nov 2, 2017 8:11PM

Displacement anxieties are a constant for many longtime residents in the gentrified Logan Square neighborhood, but those fears boiled over into reality when more than a dozen families were recently told they had to leave their residences after their building was purchased by a controversial property management firm.

The property at 2936 W. Palmer Ave. was sold to management company M. Fishman, which owns numerous rental properties in Logan Square, on October 5—and just a few days later, residents were told they would have to vacate ahead of renovations in a matter of weeks, by November 30, according to the Logan Square Neighborhood Association, a neighborhood activist group that is assisting some 15 families facing displacement.

About a dozen people braved the rain on Wednesday to deliver a letter to Fishman, requesting that they be allowed to stay through the end of the school year. His office closed the doors and called the police, an LSNA organizer told Chicagoist.

The group was joined by State Rep. Will Guzzardi. "I spoke to a chronically ill senior who's lived there for 20 years. He can't imagine moving, let alone in this weather," Guzzardi said on social media.

Many families have lived in the building since the early 2000s and mid-'90s, "building a community of support" that is poised to be dismantled, an LSNA organizer said. Families worried they wouldn't be able to find a new home in an increasingly expensive neighborhood, scrounge up a security deposit, pay relocation costs and replicate that support network in such a short amount of time.

After the protest, which was first reported by DNAinfo, the group's resolve appears to have paid off, at least to a degree. "Mr. Fishman did say he's willing to work with residents, on a one-on-one basis, to provide additional time for tenants to move, if needed," Raymond Valadez, Chief of Staff to Alderman Proco "Joe" Moreno (Ward 1), told Chicagoist via email on Thursday.

Still, it wasn't clear exactly how much extra time would be granted or how extensively Fishman's pledge would be communicated. One tenant, Ismael Cabrera, a 76-year-old diabetes sufferer who's lived in the building since 2003, told Chicagoist on Thursday afternoon that he had not yet been informed that Fishman would would allow case-by-case extensions.

Fishman could not be immediately reached for comment.

Despite Fishman's apparent reversal in the face of the demonstration, anti-displacement activists stressed the systemic problem of gentrification in the neighborhood, and the "domino effect" of having to shift schools and losing child care, as one tenant who relies on a neighbor to pick up her child was facing by the eviction. (This also isn't the first time that M Fishman has been at the center of the gentrification and displacement issue in Logan Square.)

Guzzardi stressed a similar note on Thursday morning on social media. While Fishman's move to "evict" families—who were living in the building month-to-month—was legal, it underscored the urgent need to treat housing as a human right.

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