Harvey apartments boarded up amid safety concerns; some residents say they were still inside

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Sunday, January 7, 2024
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HARVEY, Ill. (WLS) -- Harvey city officials said they have been talking with property managers about unfit living conditions and ongoing crime on South Halsted Street since October, but told ABC7 it was the owners who took it upon themselves, on Friday night, to board up the apartments there.

Some residents said they were still inside their homes.

Rudolph Williams spoke from inside.

"I opened the door, and here's this big piece of plywood right there," Williams said.

Williams is now able to walk through his opened front door after, he claims, crews boarded it shut with plywood while he was still inside.

When asked what went through his mind at that moment, Williams said, "Wondering how I was going to get out."

He lives in the apartment complex on South Halsted in Harvey, where many were apparently forced out of their homes on Friday night due to what's being called unsafe and dangerous living conditions.

Issues there, residents said, have been mounting for years.

"My mom was 73 years old, and I had to move her from up over here, because it was too much going on. The stairs had fell down. I fell through the stairs," said James Williams, whose relatives live at the complex.

Mary Brooks, a resident of four years, also weighed in.

"Twenty-four-hour drug activity. One man was shot five times and dropped dead at my back door. There's no one around here picking up trash," Brooks, 66, said. "It's been miserable."

In a statement, Harvey city leaders said, in part, "Contrary to recent claims, the city did not evict anyone from these properties but has communicated with the property owners regarding the unsafe conditions of the buildings and need to immediately rectify the dangerous living conditions."

In fact, city leaders said, the owners made the call. Harvey alderpeople have been scrambling for a resolution.

"Capital improvement should never come at the expense of someone's livelihood," said 2nd Ward Alderwoman Colby Chapman.

Brooks, who was recently diagnosed with cancer, is now left to fight for a place to stay.

"It's hard. I want to plan, but you can't plan because you don't know where you're going to move to, when you'll be able to move, how much money," Brooks said.

ABC7 has reached out to the property owners and the board up crew, but have not heard back. City officials said they will continue to monitor the situation.

At this time, it is unclear if or when exactly these residents will have to move.