‘Why do we have to live like this?’ No more city business for East Lake Management, tenants say
Protesters outside City Hall say lax security, pests, monthslong maintenance backlogs are all reasons the city should stop working with the management company.
Without anyone watching who is coming and going from his South Side building, John Owens worries about his safety.
“Safety for the tenants?” Owens said. “You are on your own when it comes to safety. I’m a disabled individual, I shouldn’t have to be living like that.”
He and a group of residents who have formed the “East Lake Tenants Union” held a news conference Tuesday outside City Hall, urging city officials to stop working with the East Lake Management company until improvements are made to its buildings.
Owens lives at the Washington Park single-room occupancy affordable housing building at 5000 S. Indiana Ave. managed by East Lake.
Other residents, like Owens, said the management company isn’t doing enough to try to curb violence near its buildings. One resident said security guards don’t actively patrol the properties or call police when violence erupts nearby. The residents said they are living with issues ranging from pests to mold and would like repairs to be done more quickly.
In a statement, East Lake said it “takes the safety, comfort, and well-being of our residents very seriously, our residents are our number one priority.”
Mery Mercado, who lives at the Germano Millgate Apartments, said she worries about the safety of her grandchildren and other children who live at the complex at 8808 S. Burley Ave.
“All the children in the area, they don’t go outside because of the shootings and the chaos,” Mercado said.
Mercado, 66, said she would like her building to contract with a different security company that will “step up to the plate” and be more proactive about deterring crime.
She would also like to see maintenance requests addressed sooner. Mercado said she’s been waiting five months to have her bathroom repaired because of water damage. She also frequently deals with pests in her unit.
Shanna Landheart, an organizer with the East Lake Tenants Union, urged the city to take action so that the management company can make improvements to the buildings.
“Why doesn’t the city shut them down? But they’ll shut down a small landlord,” Landheart said. “We need all of this to stop. Why do we have to live like this?”
Elvia Malagón’s reporting on social justice and income inequality is made possible by a grant from The Chicago Community Trust.