Tenants protest at City Hall ‘slum’ living conditions – building owner Leon Finney sits on Chicago Plan Commission

by Samantha Winslow
Jan 21, 2010

Latasha Edwards said she has trouble sleeping at night because of the mice running around her apartment at all hours. She has four children, one of whom has developed asthma since she moved into her apartment.

Edwards and other tenants joined housing rights activists at City Hall Thursday to protest building owner Leon Finney Jr.’s failure to fix problems in their building. He sits on the Chicago Plan Commission that convened Thursday. Protesters were ejected from the meeting after Edwards tried to speak to the commission.

Outside the meeting, Edwards described living with bed bugs, mold, mildew, faulty wires, insufficient heat, exposed radiator pipe and holes in the wall. Other tenants complained of missing carbon monoxide detectors and smoke detectors and broken, unstable stairs.

Elizabeth Rouse was living with mold on her walls; she went to the hospital after feeling chest pains and found out she had pneumonia.

The Kimbark Tenants Association members at the rally said they have been reporting violations to the building management, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and their alderman, and reached out to the community. The association covers a series of buildings around 62nd Street and Kimbark Avenue.

Rev. Andre Smith of New Spiritual Light Church , showed up for the action to address what he called a “life and death issue.” He said, “We are living in 2010; you don’t think stuff like this happens.”

The buildings of Woodlawn Redevelopment No. 2 are subsidized by HUD to keep the apartments affordable for low -income tenants. Tenants pay 30 percent of the market-rate rent, with HUD supplying the remaining amount.

HUD representatives would not comment on the buildings in question, but said their policy is that buildings have safe and sanitary living conditions.

The Woodlawn Community Development Corporation owns the building and is connected to The Woodlawn Organization that Finney chairs. TWO works around housing and development issues in the Woodlawn neighborhood, and works with its Hyde Park neighbor, the University of Chicago. Tenants and activists at the rally said they suspect he is letting the conditions in the apartments deteriorate because he is trying to sell off the buildings.

Finney and the Woodlawn Community Development Corporation did not return calls.

medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news

A letter to the NAA regarding an email they deleted without reading – please retract your amicus in the Abad case in Arizona – it is fraud by a political action committee, the National Apartment Association, that is furthering another fraud by another political action committee, the US Chamber of Commerce

Political Action Committee – NAA – files Amicus Brief in mold case (two infant deaths in mold filled apt – Wasatch Prop Mgmt) citing US Chamber/ACOEM ‘litigation defense report’ to disclaim health effects of indoor mold & limit financial risk for industry

“Changes in construction methods have caused US buildings to become perfect petri dishes for mold and bacteria to flourish when water is added. Instead of warning the public and teaching physicians that the buildings were causing illness; in 2003 the US Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform, a think-tank, and a workers comp physician trade organization mass marketed an unscientific nonsequitor to the courts to disclaim the adverse health effects to stave off liability for financial stakeholders of moldy buildings. Although publicly exposed many times over the years, the deceit lingers in US courts to this very day.” Sharon Noonan Kramer

Information on Riverstone Residential knowingly exposing tenants to extreme amounts of mold toxins at Toxic Mold Infested Jefferson Lakes Apartments in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Toxic Mold Infested Jefferson Lakes Apartments managed by Riverstone Residential

Riverstone Residential Litigation

Mold Inspection Reports

Photos of Mold in Apartment

Attorney Malpractice

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