The Rev. Jesse Jackson is calling on residents of Concordia Place Apartments to organize a rent strike until repairs are made to remove mold and rodent infestations from their homes.
Jackson, along with members from Rainbow PUSH Coalition, mediated a meeting Tuesday between residents, a representative from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and representatives from Capital Realty Group, the New York-based owners of the apartment complex located at 13037 S. Daniel Drive.
The meeting at times turned heated as residents explained their frustrations of living in apartments they say have rodents and mold. Resident Shaniqua Kinnard gave the representatives of the property company a plastic bag that she said contained a rodent from her apartment.
“What are you gonna do with this,” Kinnard said as she held up the bag.
For weeks, residents and the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, a Chicago-based civil rights group, have called for Capital Realty Group to make repairs to the apartments. The complex, located in the Eden Green neighborhood just west of the Bishop Ford Freeway, is federally subsidized housing. Residents pay a portion of their income — usually about 30% — toward rent while the rest is subsidized by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
After learning about the residents’ concerns in early March, HUD asked the owner to inspect all the units and to give residents a 48-hour written notice before entering them. On Tuesday, residents said they weren’t given proper notice before inspections this week while representatives from the Capital Realty Group said residents were notified.
The Chicago Sun-Times was invited to attend the meeting by officials from the Rainbow PUSH Coalition. After the meeting, Mika Stambaugh, spokeswoman for Capital Realty Group, described Tuesday’s meeting as private and said the owners didn’t agree to allow reporters in. The two representatives from Capital Realty Group who attended the meeting declined to identify themselves.
At the meeting, the groups agreed to work out how the inspections would take place along with repairs to alleviate mold and rodents. Residents also asked for someone from Rainbow PUSH to be involved in the inspections, and they pushed for the company to remove the current workers on the ground.
In a statement after the meeting, HUD said it was working with residents, the property owners and the Rainbow PUSH Coalition to create a comprehensive plan that will include inspections and unit improvements.
“HUD’s priority is to ensure that this collaborative action plan is clearly communicated to residents and keeps them informed of each step,” the agency said in the statement.
Danaree Miggins, a resident at the complex, said she was given conflicting information about how much she owed by the on-site property manager and questioned what would have happened with the money if she would have paid the original amount she was told to pay.
Miggins also brought photos of her apartment that shows what appears to be mold in her bathroom and a photo of multiple rodents. She said she sometimes sends her children to stay with a relative because of the apartment’s conditions.
“I’m clean, why is my apartment nasty,” Miggins said during the meeting.
Another resident, Tamara Jackson, said people came to inspect her apartment while one of her daughters was still in her pajamas and Jackson was not wearing clothes. She said she thinks the conditions inside her apartment have taken a toll on her children’s mental health.
“Y’all not gonna keep doing this,” Tamara Jackson said to the company.
While the groups agreed to continue meeting to come up with a plan to implement repairs, the Rev. Jesse Jackson encouraged the residents to organize a rent strike starting Tuesday.
“You heard the problems,” the Rev. Jesse Jackson said.
Elvia Malagón’s reporting on social justice and income inequality is made possible by a grant from The Chicago Community Trust.