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Rent moratorium would be catastrophe for Chicago

It would harm landlords and tenants alike.

Ald. Matt Martin (47th) has proposed an ordinance to ease rent and mortgage payments during the coronavirus pandemic.
Ald. Matt Martin (47th) has proposed an ordinance to ease rent and mortgage payments during the coronavirus pandemic.
Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

A Chicago alderman has proposed an ordinance that would abate rent payments in the city for up to 12 months. This ordinance would be catastrophic to the city, its neighborhoods and to landlords and tenants alike.

Such an ordinance not only would destroy what remains of privately owned low-income affordable housing. It also would generate massive homeless enclaves, rivaling or surpassing those to be found in cities such as Los Angeles and San Francisco.

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Supporters of the ordinance have not explained what would substitute for rent. How would landlords pay their mortgages, property taxes, heating bills and water and sewer fees? How would they pay for the upkeep of their buildings, such as for tuckpointing and window and boiler replacements?

This proposal includes no safe-guards or monetary reimbursements to protect landlords from being financially impaired by thousands of tenants who might move out without paying significant back rents. Banks and other lenders could refuse to finance rental properties due to the risk of not getting repaid.

This proposed ordinance would decimate the shrinking number of affordable apartment housing units in Chicago, particularly on the South and West sides, pushing more poor people out of the city. The few remaining single-room-occupancy properties, which provide houisng for several thousand poor Chicago adults, likewise would disappear.

Smaller rental properties in working-class neighborhoods could be pushed into abandonment. The sale value of such properties no longer would cover the existing mortgages, property taxes and utility costs.

Chicago has a growing list of over 65,000 abandoned and vacant buildings and homes, as noted on the city’s own website. The city does not need more abandoned properties.

Chicago would see a massive decline in the collection of property taxes, water and sewer fees and other revenue — money needed to pay for city services and employee salaries. The city’s financial rating would drop to junk bond status.

Chicago would not be well served by this proposed ordinance.

Eric Rubenstein
Executive director
Single Room Housing Assistance Corporation (SRHAC)

Defying COVID-19 safety practices is like driving drunk

What do people who drive under the influence of alcohol have in common with people who do not use a face mask and ignore social distancing protocols when around people in essential businesses?

They both are placing other people’s lives at risk.

In our new coronavirus world, everyone can take action to speed the reduction of new infections and reduce future fatalities. By adhering to the state’s stay-at-home order and following good public health protocols when among other people, each of us can contribute to the public good, keeping our families, friends and communities safe.

Just like people who drive while under the influence, those who defy these guidelines act recklessly and endanger others. In the name of public safety, such people should not have access to essential services until they comply. The life that they save may be their own.

Sheldon H. Jacobson, Urbana

Let the pols volunteer first

I read Lynn Sweet’s column about expediting the testing for a vaccine for the coronavirus. Elected officials are suggesting that volunteers could step up and be infected so as to find a vaccine in a shorter time.

I get a kick out of politicians who ask others to take a chance at life or death. Why don’t they offer their sons, daughters, nephews and nieces? That also goes for when they send our troops into conflict zones.

Edward Kurek, West loop