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Another SRO Crisis

The residents of the Darlington Hotel and the Lorali, some of the few remaining affordable Single Room Occupancy buildings in Uptown, face eviction as the buildings go up for sale and are remodeled. These two SROs (single room occupancy buildings) are critical affordable housing in Uptown, as gentrification rapidly encroaches on the neighborhood.

The owners of the Darlington Hotel have been negotiating with developer Jim Sayegh of Elmdale Partners in the Darlington's last few months on the open market. Sayegh says that the project will create 46 units, but plans to maintain only six units as affordable. Nineteen tenants currently live at the Darlington, many of whom have lived there for nearly two decades.

While Sayegh says he is willing to work with service organizations on a relocation plan for tenants, it has been clear through previous mass evictions in Uptown that affordability options in the neighborhood are inadequate for the needs of many tenants.

We saw a similar situation a year ago when the Wilson Men's Hotel was bought by Andy Ahitow of City Pads. Like the Darlington, there were offers by affordable housing developers to preserve the Wilson Men's Hotel, but due to a lack of city financing and commitment to SRO preservation, the building was quickly sold to a market-rate buyer. Although there were attempts for relocation, the reality was that there were not enough affordable units that existed in Uptown. The relocation that happened only happened due to the tenants' hard fought organizing which led to a lawsuit on City Pads. Now, the Darlington tenants fear displacement if their building is sold to Elmdale Partners.

As the Darlington faces the threat of losing its affordability, Lorali residents are also experiencing crisis. Jim Stoller, owner of the Lorali, notified tenants on Monday that they must vacate by April for renovations. Once renovated, the Lorali will no longer be classified as an SRO. There are nearly 100 tenants at the Lorali who must confront the difficult relocation process.

With few affordable options available and both SROs at risk, Uptown's working class, senior, and disabled residents are left with fewer and fewer places to turn.

ONE Northside will hold a press conference Monday at 10 a.m. at the Darlington, 4700 North Racine Avenue. Video and visuals will be available at https://www.facebook.com/OneNorthside/.

Tenants' Demands:

* Keep the Darlington and Lorali affordable for the current tenants.

* More support and priority from the city to finance the preservation of SROs.

* $25 million a year allocated to the preservation and maintenance of SROs to remain decent, affordable, accessible, and sustainable.

Organizing Neighborhoods for Equality: Northside is a mixed-income, multi-ethnic, intergenerational organization that unites our diverse communities. We build collective power to eliminate injustice through bold and innovative community organizing. We accomplish this through developing grassroots leaders and acting together to effect change.

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Comments welcome.



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Posted on December 14, 2018


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