Nearly 1 year after deadly Kenwood fire, high-rise residents frustrated they're still displaced

Management said it expects residents could return by June, while it deals with CFD investigation, insurance, permits

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Monday, December 18, 2023
Nearly 1 year after deadly high-rise fire, residents still displaced
Nearly 1 year after a deadly Chicago fire, Harper Square Cooperative residents are frustrated they're still displaced from their Kenwood homes.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Hundreds of residents who were displaced in a high-rise fire in January could soon know when they can return home.

It's been nearly one year since the deadly fire at the Kenwood apartment complex, and residents - mostly seniors -- say they've received no definite answers from management on when they can move back in.

But that could change during a virtual meeting planned for 5 p.m. Tuesday.

It's clear there's work still being done at the high-rise complex nearly a year after a deadly fire left hundreds of residents displaced. Frustrations are only growing, as residents remain in limbo.

"It is extremely frustrating," resident Ken Harris said. "The fire happened on my birthday, Jan. 25."

The day is burned into their memories.

"It just went completely black. I couldn't see anything," resident Denise Loggins said. "It was very traumatic."

But that one day has now turned into nearly a year.

"All the lack of transparency just breeds distrust," Harris said.

SEE MORE: Chicago high-rise fire: 1 dead in extra-alarm fire that tore through multiple floors, CFD says

Hundreds of residents at the Harper Square Cooperative apartments have been in their homes for decades.

"The fire has been a horror that just keeps on giving for the whole year," resident Mildred Richardson said.

A few residents came together inside Morningstar Baptist Church of Chicago with the help from local pastors.

"They need housing. They should be in their house on Christmas," said Rev. Robin Hood, executive director of the Illinois Anti-Foreclosure Coalition.

Many are still either living with relatives or in temporary housing funded by their insurance.

"Like many of the residents, I have - I thought I had adequate insurance that would take care of this, which it did, but it's about to run out," resident Johnnie Oshipitan said.

A month after the fire, a judge ordered an interior inspection and a host of repairs before people are safely allowed back in.

"Please, show up. Do the right thing. Let's get this done," Harris said.

Management told ABC7 Chicago residents should be back into their homes by June of next year, while they deal with permits, insurance companies and an ongoing fire investigation.