The Chicago For All Coalition was convened by ONE Northside, and includes LCBH and many other tenant advocate and social service organizations. The purpose of the coalition is to address the rapid depletion of Single Room Occupancy (SROs) hotels in Chicago. SROs provide short and long-term affordable housing options for some of the city’s most vulnerable, very low-income residents, like the recently homeless, veterans, and persons with disabilities. SROs are often located in desirable areas of the city—walkable neighborhoods, close to public transportation and with abundant social service agencies. In the past several years, many SROs have been sold to investors who rehab the buildings and raise rents far beyond what former residents could afford. Chicago stands to lose this crucial affordable housing resource.
As LCBH notes in its 2013 Foreclosure Report, “One scenario that has played out frequently over the past few years is the purchase of low-income buildings and single room occupancy buildings or hotels (SROs) by investors hoping to cash in on the growth in the rental market. Investors buy buildings, rehab units, and increase rent, virtually ensuring that former residents cannot return. Recent examples of this phenomenon include the purchase of the Lawrence House, Astor House, Abbott Hotel, and Chateau Hotel, all high-rise buildings in Rogers Park, Lakeview, and Uptown.”
The Chicago For All Coalition is currently working with the city to devise a long-term, sustainable solution to this issue and has drafted an ordinance sponsored by Ald. Walter Burnett (27th), Ald. Will Burns (4th), Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd) and Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th). While the details of this ordinance are being finalized, the city has proposed a short-term six month moratorium on all SRO development until the more permanent ordinance can be effectuated. On July 30, 2014, the City Council passed the moratorium unanimously.