Wednesday, April 1, 2009

48th Ward Update: Bad Buildings & Safety Initiatives

From a 48th Ward Email Blast:
Concerted Action Forces Changes at Bad Buildings

Alderman Smith continues to hammer away at bad building owners through housing court, removing city subsidies and organizing and educating tenants in such buildings who otherwise would be afraid to speak up.

5718 N. Winthrop is one example of the community working together to force a bad owner to improve the conditions at his building. In conjunction with the Edgewater Community Council, Alderman Smith was able to pull $53,000 in annual subsidies from the building and its owner and reallocate that money to responsible landlords. Court advocates regularly attend housing court hearings for this building, where over 60 building code violations are being addressed, to make sure the judge and owner realize that safe, clean housing is a critical issue for our community.

By the end of April, 20 tenants will have been relocated with the community's assistance from this dangerous building; whenever possible, they are staying within the Ward. A special thank-you to the men and women who helped us move these people over the past two months and to Care for Real for the use of its van and volunteers in this effort.

Moving forward, we will continue to focus on 5718 N. Winthrop in Housing Court and work to eliminate City subsidies for other 48th Ward buildings owned by this particular landlord. If anyone is interested in attending Housing Court with us as a court advocate, please contact

[UU Note: The same landlord who lost his subsidized housing funds in the 48th Ward - John Klise/ Circle Management - also owns buildings in trouble in the 46th Ward, at 1325 W. Wilson, 851 W. Montrose, and 1039 W. Lawrence. We wonder if Ald. Shiller will be as tough as Ald. Smith was, or if he'll be protected, as other owners of buildings in housing court due to multiple violations have been in the past.] Addresses Safety Initiatives

Alderman Smith is excited to announce the re-launch of and the availability of Uptown-specific Neighborhood Watch yard signs. The web site is the central source for information about all of the community public safety initiatives in Beat 2024. There you will find details on Neighborhood Watches, bad buildings in Uptown, the yard sign project, court advocacy and the many ways you can become involved in making Uptown a safer place to live and work. The ActionUptown yard signs can be picked up at the Ward Service Office, 5533 N. Broadway.


  1. Doesn't this owner own buildings in Uptown too? I wonder if Helen was successful in cutting his funding as well?
    How is Holsten involved with this building? Was he a previous owner? I used google and found this:

  2. The bulding at Wilson and Malden has the same owner. The building is a voting block for the beast.

  3. Oh, my bad. He actually owned it through 1887. Much better.

  4. The 1325 Wilson building owned by this same guy has had lots of crime in and around it. If anyone addresses it, Helen will scream discrimination. I wonder if real discrimination is not doing anything about it and letting the other poor people in the building suffer? Any thoughts, Ron?

  5. Note: Holsten used to own the 5718 Building (I lived there a LONG time ago)

  6. Oh, wait, didn't see the other posts...

    Reading is fun-damental!

  7. This management company (Circle Management) has been a disaster for years. Worse still, this operator, who is also a Lincoln Park attorney, actively accepts referrals from the Low Income Housing Trust Fund to include those who have a number of issues which require monitoring and he thinks it is not appropriate to have "hotels" check up on guests once a week. I have heard that the Uptown properties allegedly operated by Circle Management are for ex-offenders but I suspect that is an overstatement-most of the tenants are social service agency referrals in all likelihood.

    Circle Management is in this for $$$$$ to collect a check and you just can't do that and run a successful operation for the deeply impacted by offender status, substance abuse, poverty, and/or mental illness.

    The problem with this FOR PROFIT management company would seemingly include that after seven years apprenticeship has bathrooms that are unusable (per the News Star), allegedly heater issues during February (per the housing court complaint), and has had repeated problems with criminal activity alleged by tenants and neighbors which are beyond what could be normally expected from even a social service housing facility, which these aren't.

    The management company isn't alone in contributing to these "bad buildings" though. Thoughtless social service agencies appear to have dumped people with no follow up or investigation or knowingly placed someone (dumped) in housing which they knew wasn't habitable if they inspected so that they could collect a housing referral fee.

    If anyone wants to scream discrimination, please send them up to Edgewater where they can scream discrimination at the mostly African American tenants begging the city and anyone who will listen to please do something to fix these buildings. Tenants have been complaining increasingly loudly up here in Edgewater and I haven't heard a defense which will excuse no heat and disgusting toilets but there's time yet.

    There ARE successful SROs, and the well run ones actually even make money too. They have to screen tenants, provide supportive services, understand that some SRO tenants will have issues such as mental illness and/or substance abuse and will need more looking after than tenants you just collect a check from, and they have to be committed to try to create a home for the least among us. You also have to make sure that any social service agency case managers are involved and provide the services they are supposed to. It is DIFFICULT but there are operators that not only manage but excel at it ( .