CHICAGO — City officials say they are moving forward with a resolution to prevent future tragedy among Chicago tenants following the death of three women inside their apartment complex.
Neighbors and loved ones say a lack of air conditioning at the James Sneider Senior Living Apartment Complex is to blame.
“We will be following up with the Department of Buildings, the law department, and all the relevant city departments to investigate this and figure out what steps need to be taken,” Hadden said.
On Sunday, Ald. Maria Hadden (49th Ward) said she planned to introduce a resolution at the next city council meeting, calling on “the Committee of Housing and Real Estate to convene a hearing regarding the events leading up to the tragic deaths of three senior residents.”
The alderwoman is also requesting the Hispanic Housing Development Corporation testify at the hearing, along with residents of the building.
SEE ALSO: Questions remain after 3 found dead in Rogers Park senior complex
The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office identified the victims as 76-year-old Delores McNeely, 72-year-old Gwendolyn Osbourne, and 68-year-old Janice Reed. Their cause of death is pending autopsy results.
Resident Lorna Barnes, a friend of Reed’s, says she voiced concerns to management that the room temperature inside the building was too hot.
“I was scared to go to sleep worrying I wouldn’t wake up,” she told WGN News Sunday.
Barnes claims complaints were made as early as Tuesday but management refused to switch on the air conditioning until June 1, with hot air reportedly being blown into units instead.
“They had been given some fans but the heat was running in the building until Thursday evening when I got involved,” Hadden said Sunday.
The resolution alleges management “failed to turn off the heating system in the building, exacerbating ambient temperatures and knowingly putting at risk the health and well-being of senior residents.”
The resolution adds that the team miscited the City of Chicago’s ordinance governing minimum heat requirements as a reason for not being able to turn on the air conditioning right away.
SEE ALSO: 3 dead allegedly due to excess heat at Rogers Park apartment building
“Our ordinance is very clear and says you have to provide temperatures of 68 through June 1 and they do address heating and nowhere says they have to have the heat on until June 1,” Hadden said.
In a statement released Sunday night to WGN, management said, “they’re deeply saddened by these deaths, safety has always been their highest priority and they’re working with the city, conducting their own investigation into the incident.”
Hadden’s resolution also calls on multiple state departments to come together to take a look at that ordinance, in an effort to strengthen protections for Chicago’s tenants, going forward.
“If it’s really hot in your building and you’ve made complaints and your management company isn’t listening, call your alderperson,” she said. ” You can always call 311 as well.”
The Department of Buildings also addressed the incident:
The tragic deaths of three senior Chicagoans at the James Sneider Apartments were felt by all Chicagoans. While the investigation into the cause of death remains ongoing, the City continues to take the necessary measures to make sure residents are safe, and also hold building owners responsible and accountable for the care of their residents.
Chicago is one of many jurisdictions that has heat temperature requirements for residential buildings. There is no national standard and the heat temperature requirements vary as to both temperature and time of year. Chicago’s heat requirement is from September 15 to June 1 and requires a minimum temperature of 68 degrees from 8:30 am to 10:30 pm and 66 degrees from 10:30 am to 8:30 am.
Other jurisdictions have longer start dates and longer end dates while others apply year-round.
While many jurisdictions have heat requirement ordinances, it must be noted that no jurisdiction, including Chicago, prevents a building owner from engaging their air cooling systems.
In larger properties with heating and cooling systems, the switch over of the respective systems from heat to cooling is not immediate and may take hours or days.
If any residents are experiencing uncomfortably warm temperatures in their buildings, they should call 311 and building management, and the City will respond.Chicago Department of Buildings