Pictures by Froilan Landeros
Merlene and other tenants of Northpoint Apartments were incredibly brave today in confronting the intimidation they are facing as they fight evictions as well as unfair and illegal practices. Residents named a variety of complaints with the management such as unhealthy living conditions like bedbugs and rats, conflicts of interest between management and tenants, and even defamation of name and character, after a letter was posted around the apartments naming particular residents and supposed illegal conduct they were engaged in. Many of the people named in the letter were people who were fighting back against the conditions at Northpoint.
Merlene Robinson-Parsons told her story, explaining why she is facing eviction. Her rent subsidy could have been adjusted to match her income when her husband left. Instead, she was taken to eviction court, and with no money to pay for a lawyer, she and her 3-year-old great-niece now face homelessness in the coming days. When she cobbled together enough money to pay for the rent she owes Northpoint, the property manager said she would not accept it.
Supporters from Northside Action for Justice and Communities United Against Foreclosure and Eviction joined Northpoint residents at the press conference to call on Northpoint property manager Kimberley Boyd, HUD Chicago Multifamily Hub Director Ed Hinsberger and Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart to stop the eviction of Merlene Robinson-Parsons.
Merlene, with the support of her neighbors, Northside Action for Justice, and Communities United Against Foreclosure and Eviction will take her fight directly to HUD on Tuesday August 7th with a press conference at 11:30am (gathering at 11am) outside 77 W. Jackson St.
Can you take 5 minutes to call the Department of Housing and Urban Development on Monday to demand they intervene in Merlene’s case?
Call Ed Hinsberger at 312-353-6236 x 8152 and Shaun Donovan at 202-708-1112.
Tell them: Merlene Robinson-Parsons may be evicted any day from Northpoint Properties, where she’s lived for 29 years. Merlene’s case is the latest in a pattern of abuse at Northpoint. Instead of allowing Merlene and her 3 year-old grand niece to be made homeless, I urge your office to intervene to stop her eviction and investigate AIMCO/Northpoint. I demand that private companies receiving money from HUD do what they’re supposed to: provide affordable housing!
Northpoint Properties, where Merlene has lived for 29 years, is a subsidiary of AIMCO. AIMCO receives millions of dollars in public subsidies from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to operate Section 8 housing, but it is subject to little or no oversight. AIMCO has a nationwide record of abuse and neglect, and Northpoint Properties has a history of trying to wrongfully evict residents. At a time when homelessness is on the rise, HUD should be expanding the availability of subsidized and public housing. But when Merlene has contacted the officials who are supposed to oversee her apartment complex, they’ve told the burden is on her to work things out with the property manager.
HUD has intervened to stop wrongful evictions at Northpoint before–let’s demand that they do the right thing and do it again for Merlene and her niece!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – AUG. 2, 2012
Senior citizen fights to stop her eviction and keep her family
CHICAGO, IL, Aug. 2 – A 29-year resident of Northpoint Apartments is fighting to keep her apartment and her family. At 11 a.m. today in front of 7717 N. Paulina, neighbors and community members will join her in an effort to stop her eviction.
Merlene Robinson-Parsons’ problems started when her husband moved out – without paying the rent, and with no prior notice – in May.
The rent subsidy on her apartment could have been increased, had Robinson-Parsons known the proper procedure. But Robinson-Parsons, whose income is now just over $800 a month, did not have access to a lawyer during eviction proceedings. As a result, she may be thrown out of her home in the coming days.
What’s more, she has now raised enough money to cover her back rent as well as Northpoint Apartments’ court costs, but Northpoint property manager Kimberley Boyd (an employee of AIMCO, which owns the property) will not let Robinson-Parsons keep her apartment in return for the rent money.
Today, with support from her neighbors and members of Northside Action for Justice and Communities United Against Foreclosure and Eviction, she will try again.
“This never should have happened. She was entitled to have her rent adjusted with proof of her income change,” says Holly Krig, a member of Communities United Against Foreclosure and Eviction. “Even if Merlene has struggled to pay her rent before, her decreased income should have been a paperwork issue, and not grounds for eviction. If AIMCO can’t afford to work with Merlene, who has been a good neighbor at Northpoint for almost 30 years, it’s only because they are putting their corporate bottom line ahead of the needs of the very people they pretend to serve.”
The groups are calling on Northpoint property manager Kimberley Boyd, HUD Chicago Multifamily Hub Director Ed Hinsberger and Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart to stop the eviction.
More than just an apartment is at stake for Robinson-Parsons. She has been caring for her great-niece Lamariana since July 2010, when the girl witnessed her 10-month-old sister’s tragic death.
“In order for me to keep her, I have to have adequate housing,” Robinson-Parsons says. “Where am I going to get a 2-bedroom apartment for under $800? I am begging you to let me keep my apartment.”
Other residents will also be present to discuss their own problems with Northpoint Apartments, including one woman – Mary Wells – who was robbed of her rent money and received emergency funds from Catholic Charities to pay it a few days late, only to be told the management company could not accept her rent and was trying to evict her.
In addition, Robinson-Parsons will tell her story at an Aug. 9 public meeting with Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinckle. The meeting will be held at 6:30pm at Jobs with Justice, 333 S. Ashland.