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Albany Park
Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
3:42pm
Wed Jan 28

Activists Bring Fight To Save A Rogers Park 'Community House' To Citibank (VIDEO)

About 30 Chicago housing activists picketed outside a Citibank branch Wednesday morning as part of their ongoing fight to save a Rogers Park "community house."

Organizers toted signs reading, "I support the house on Ridge" and "Housing is a human right," while tenants of the home, located at 7245 N. Ridge Ave., were inside the branch attempting to meet with a Citibank mortgage representative to discuss their offer to purchase the foreclosed property.

Jorge Ortiz, an organizer with Communities United Against Foreclosure and Eviction, lives in the home with his family, including his mother and uncle. Ortiz and his family moved into the Rogers Park home in 2012 after the previous property owner, who was facing foreclosure, abandoned it. Organizers said Citibank later purchased the home at a foreclosure auction.

The current tenants of the bank-owned home, with the help of Communities United Against Foreclosure and Eviction, turned the property into a "community house" that hosts clothing drives, movie screenings, health fairs and other neighborhood events. People who have had difficulties finding affordable housing also stay there, organizers said. The tenants at the property are currently facing eviction.

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
3:07pm
Mon Sep 8, 2014

Chicago-Area Foreclosures Hit Pre-Recession Levels, But The Housing Crisis Is Far From Over

Chicago's six-county region recorded 13,916 new foreclosure filings in the first half of 2014, a nearly 38 percent drop from a year ago and the lowest level reached since 2007, according to a report by the Woodstock Institute. Local housing activists working to help struggling homeowners offer their take on the new data as well as policies meant to stymie the ongoing negative effects of foreclosures.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
1:17pm
Fri Aug 15, 2014

Albany Park Community Land Trust Close To Locking In First Home Donation (VIDEO)

Leaders with Centro Autónomo in Albany Park say the group's effort to establish a community land trust to secure affordable housing in the northwest Chicago neighborhood is moving forward.

Centro Autónomo, also known as the Albany Park Autonomous Center, is currently asking financial institutions to donate local homes in foreclosure to its Casas del Pueblo Community Land Trust, a non-profit that wants to turn the properties into permanent affordable housing for low-income residents. Both Casas del Pueblo and the Centro Autónomo are projects of the Mexico Solidarity Network.

So far, no homes have been donated to the community land trust, which officially launched in 2011. But Antonio Gutierrez, housing coordinator at Centro Autónomo, said the organization has a negotiation session planned for September with Fannie Mae. Another meeting with a national representative of donations for Wells Fargo is scheduled for the end of August.

Gutierrez and others with the effort are optimistic the community land trust will receive its first donated home within the next several months. 

"Casas del Pueblo needs to put as much pressure as we can right now [on the financial institutions], because this is a time when we're almost sure that we can get this donation by the end of the year," he said.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
1:06pm
Tue Mar 18, 2014

SEIU Members Help Nancy Schiavone Get Voters To The Polls In Illinois' 40th District (VIDEO)

Nancy Schiavone, who is running in the hotly contested Democratic primary race in Illinois' 40th representative district, saw support Tuesday morning from SEIU* Local 1 members who hit the streets on Chicago's Northwest Side to canvas on behalf of the candidate.

"We've identified folks, and we're hoping that we get them to the polls," Schiavone told Progress Illinois at her campaign office ahead of the canvas. "We have a really terrific field program, and we're just going to keep at it until 7 o'clock tonight," which is when the polls close. 

Schiavone is one of four Democratic candidates vying to unseat incumbent State Rep. Jaime Andrade (D-Chicago), a former top aide to the now retired Chicago Ald. Dick Mell (33rd). Andrade has represented the 40th District since August after being appointed to fill the vacancy left by Deb Mell, who succeeded her father as alderman of Chicago's 33rd Ward. 

The other Democratic candidates in Tuesday's 40th District Democratic primary battle include attorney Aaron Goldstein, community development organizer Wendy Jo Harmston and electrical engineer Mark Pasieka. There are no Republicans running in the 40th district, which includes parts of the Logan Square, Albany Park, Avondale and Irving Park communities in Chicago.

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
12:18am
Mon Mar 17, 2014

Election Preview: The Democratic Battle In Illinois' 40th District

The five-person race in Illinois' 40th legislative district on Chicago's Northwest Side is one of the key Democratic battles to watch in Tuesday's primary election. Progress Illinois takes a look at the contest.

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
4:57pm
Tue Feb 11, 2014

Candidates In Crowded 40th District Race Talk Pension Reform, Other Issues

From taxes to public education funding to statewide pension reform, the six candidates vying to represent Illinois' 40th District on Chicago's Northwest Side laid out their positions on a number of issues at a public forum Monday night. Progress Illinois was there for the forum.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
12:12pm
Mon Sep 30, 2013

Albany Park Residents Want Local Aldermen To Oppose Northwest Side Charter School Expansion

Albany Park students and parents who gathered for an education meeting late last week want their local aldermen to publicly oppose the Chicago Public Schools' (CPS) plan to expand charter schools on the Northwest Side.

The more than 50 residents at the meeting, held at Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church, said they plan to visit the offices of Northwest Side Alds. Deb Mell (33rd), Rey Colon (35th) and Margaret Laurino (39th) this week to urge them to sign a pledge to support neighborhood school investments and speak out against new charters in the area.

CPS issued a request for proposals (RFP) in mid-August for new charters in a number of "priority communities", primarily on the Northwest and Southwest Sides, as a means to help alleviate neighborhood school overcrowding. The charters are slated to open in the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 school years. 

Those at the meeting said it's unacceptable that CPS released the RFP at a time when Albany Park neighborhood schools are grappling with more than $5 million in budget cuts.

"These budget cuts left us with huge high school fees, not enough teachers or books for our classes, and our neighborhood schools are struggling to give us [an] education we deserve, but still, the mayor wants to open new charter schools," said Jamie Adams, a Roosevelt High School sophomore and leader with Chicago Students Organizing to Save our Schools (CSOSS).