Protest outside Governor JB Pritzker's Chicago home demands greater renter protections

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Rent is due in less than 24 hours and for many hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, they say it's a bill they can't afford to pay. They rallied outside Governor JB Pritzker's Chicago home Tuesday, saying the protections put in place to help them are not being enforced.

Those who attended the demonstration said they need more from elected leaders to maintain and keep them in their homes and businesses. But some landlords said while they are sympathetic in this pandemic, the solution is more complex.

Despite state eviction moratoriums and city ordinances in place, renters and business owners said they still fear being kicked out.

"Everybody is suffering right now. We should get a break too," said Kiisha Smith, owner of Building Brighter Minds for the Future. "We can't work, we can't work, so what do you expect us to do in these times?"

"Despite what the politicians might say, the worst is not behind us," said Drew Lovell, owner of Bonus Round Game Café.

The rally was organized by Lift the Ban Coalition in partnership with the Autonomous Tenants Union.

"There's been no enforcement of the laws they've even laid out that was supposed to protect us," said Rod Wilson of Lift the Ban Coalition. "We need protection and we're saying we need to cancel rents, we need to cancel mortgages and lift the ban on rent control."

But landlords and building owners say the solution is not that simple.

"Many people don't realize all the costs that go into maintaining and providing a house or an apartment, and safe, secure, and now an emphases on clean housing," said Mike Glasser, president of the Neighborhood Building Owners Alliance.

The NBOA represents landlords who manage smaller groups of tenants, and said temporarily stopping their mortgage still won't account for other costs, including property taxes that help pay for city services.

"So many people make their livelihood in this industry, and so the notion of interrupting rent is a foolhardy notion," Glasser said. "What's going to happen to stock of affordable and safe and secure housing if we're out of business?"

While the solution to affordable housing and paying the bills in the midst of a pandemic is a complicated one, all agree it's a solution that will require every party at the table.

"For those of us continuing getting back on our feet is going to be a challenge, and we need more help than we are receiving," said Lovell.

Demonstrators have since put up tents in Lincoln Park to further advocate for their cause and said they intend to stay outside the governor's house overnight.
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