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Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
11:30am
Fri Mar 20, 2015

Chicago 16th Ward Candidate Responds To Residency Questions, Criticism Over Ownership Of 'Unsafe' Vacant Home

South Side aldermanic candidate Stephanie Coleman, who's vying for the Chicago City Council's 16th Ward seat, is taking heat over an "unsafe" vacant home she owns with her father in Englewood. 

Questions are also being raised over whether Coleman is truly a "lifelong 16th Ward resident," as she claims.

Coleman's campaign, however, says critics are "making false claims" against the 27-year-old aldermanic candidate and are "trying to deflect from real neighborhood issues."

Coleman, who bills herself as a "daughter of Englewood," is set to go head-to-head with progressive Ald. Toni Foulkes (15th) in the 16th Ward's aldermanic runoff contest on April 7. The 16th Ward, which covers the Chicago Lawn, Englewood, Gage Park and West Englewood neighborhoods, was previously represented by Ald. JoAnn Thompson, who died suddenly of heart failure on February 9. Foulkes is running in the 16th Ward as a result of the ward remap. The 15th ward was previously a predominantly black ward, but is now majority Latino following the 2012 remapping process.  

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
3:42pm
Wed Jan 28, 2015

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
5:31pm
Wed Oct 8, 2014

Chicago Aldermen Approve IG Measure, Washington Park TIF; Elected School Board Referendum Gets Squeezed

Progress Illinois provides highlights from Wednesday's Chicago City Council meeting.

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
9:32am
Mon Aug 18, 2014

Chicagoans Raise Concerns Over Proposed Washington Park TIF District

Chicago's Community Development Commission advanced a controversial plan to the city council last Tuesday that would create a new tax increment financing district in the economically struggling Washington Park neighborhood on the South Side, despite opposition from some local residents. Progress Illinois takes a closer look at the issue.

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.

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