The problems with underground party houses

WGN Investigates

CHICAGO – During daylight hours, it’s just another house on just another West Side block.

But by night, neighbors say, the two-flat on the western end of the 5900 block of West Rice morphs into a neighborhood nuisance: a raucous party house masquerading as a home-share space.

On at least one occasion, a celebration turned violent. In the early hours of Dec. 31, 2020, a 27-year-old man was shot and killed outside the home. Police said at the time that witnesses were not cooperating with investigators, and police have made no arrests in the killing five months later.

The city’s 911 center has fielded more than 20 calls regarding the house so far this year — often reports of noise disturbances or fights — and the city’s Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection says it’s received another 11 complaints about activity at the home.

Chris Taliaferro, the 29th Ward alderman and former Chicago police sergeant, told WGN Investigates that the home was registered with AirBnb. He was wrong, according to BACP. Ollie Lee, the block club president, also blamed “home share” guests for the disturbances.

But in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, the city moved to crack down on home-share parties by banning one-night stays.

Despite neighbors complaining of near-weekly parties, the homeowner claimed that the building was the site of a few get-togethers among friends.

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