Foreclosure forces family of 10 out of home

November 20, 2008 3:28:44 PM PST
The foreclosure crisis has forced a Chicago couple and their eight children into homelessness. They say efforts to seek assistance from city and state agencies have resulted in little or no help.

The Chambers family said they were renting in a building in Chicago's Lawndale community. They say they were forced to leave their home when it was abandoned by the landlord as it fell into foreclosure.

The Chambers family's situation is one of many on the West Side of Chicago. With a growing number of foreclosures, renters are being forced out of their homes and many have no place to go. Community organizations are scrambling to help but say they need more help from local and state government.

If Antoinette Chambers and her family do not get help soon, they may be forced to live in a car. Chambers, her husband and their eight children had to leave their three-bedroom apartment after the landlord of this west side three-flat fell into foreclosure.

"I just moved out because it's cold now," said Antoinette Chambers.

After the landlord walked away, Chambers says the water pipes were stolen from the building, then the drug dealers showed and began to the occupy the porch area and a vacant apartment.

"I tried to get some help from charity and the city and didn't get answers," Chambers said.

Chambers says the city could not help because she was never served with official eviction papers.

To make matters worse, last week, Chambers sent some of her kids to their aunt's home in Englewood for a hot meal and place to sleep. Twelve-year-old Dishawn ended up being shot in the arm.

"I was coming from a basketball court and I heard gunshots," said Dishawn Chambers.

The Chambers family's story is not unique to the 24th Ward. Many properties are in foreclosure, and about 75 percent of residents there are renters.

"We're coming across many families who are in buildings. Single-family homes are paying their rent to a landlord who's been in foreclosure and hasn't been paying his utilities, therefore forcing them onto the street," said Theresa Welch-Davis, South Austin Coalition.

The South Side Austin Coalition and other community organizations are calling on the city to convene a task force to help.

For the Chambers family, trying to find a place to rent that will accept eight kids is extremely challenging. They have found landlords do not want to rent to big families. Right now, the Chambers family is staying with a relative in a two-bedroom apartment and they are sharing that apartment with the relative's three kids.


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