Housing advocates hold rent protest at Daley Plaza

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CHICAGO — Housing advocates gathered outside Daley Plaza Thursday to voice concern about the city and state’s response to renters during the coronavirus pandemic.

Motorists circled around the plaza honking their horns calling on city and state leaders to do more to help renters during the crisis.

“Tomorrow is May 1. Rent is due. And there has been nothing substantial done — policy wise — from the city or the state that has been laid out to protect Illinois residents,” said Rod Wilson of the Eugenia Burns Hope Center.

Trillions in federal stimulus money has already gone out to countless of individuals and business across the country, but critics claim little has been done to protect vulnerable renters on a local level.

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker has already ordered a moratorium on new eviction filings through the end of May when the stay-at-home order could possibly expire.

Pritzker has repeatedly said state law prevents him from taking action and claims legislators have to pass a new rent bill.

Protesters Thursday disagreed, claiming the governor and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot can use emergency powers to justify more help for renters.

“We know there was a soundbite yesterday about a solidarity pledge, but we also know some of those same folks on stage were all just in eviction court last week trying to evict people,” Wilson said. 

Some protestors want the governor to use his emergency powers to lift the ban on rent control. In the past, Pritzker has voiced support for rent control as a way to help those who are struggling through the pandemic. However, a 1997 state law prohibiting rent regulation would have to be repealed by legislators in Springfield.

Some of the biggest mortgage lenders and landlord groups in Chicago signed a non-binding pledge Wednesday saying they would be flexible with late payments.

Lenders and industry leaders joined Lightfoot to sign the “Chicago Housing Solidarity Pledge,” which according to a release means they will work to “offer eligible renters and mortgage holders deferred payment agreements and other financial relief” if they can’t pay.

Some of those lenders included Bank of America, US Bank, BMO Harris, PNC Bank and Wintrust.

Critics argued the pledge is voluntary and allege foreclosures are still happening. 

Top executives with TLC Property management said no evictions have violated the state’s moratorium on new eviction filings. The moratorium is good until Pritzker’s stay-at-home order expires at the end of May. 

TLC’s CEO in a written statement, said, “ In nearly 100 instances this month alone, TLC has extended grace periods, agreed on amortized repayment plans, and waived late fees for April‘s rent.”

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