Humboldt Park residents fight to keep their units Section 8 affordable housing

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Some residents in Humboldt Park are fighting to keep their homes affordable. Right now the building is designated HUD housing, but the owner wants to change that.

Residents of 2815 West Division are stepping up and speaking out after a decision by their building's owner to end his Section 8 affordable housing contract and make their apartment homes market-rate.

"It's going to be hard. You know, walls have memories. A lot of memories," said Maritbette Martinez who has lived in this building for years.

If the owner doesn't renew his section 8 contract, the tenant association said it will buy the building with an affordable housing developer to keep the units the same. Buying the building is something the association can force under Illinois Law.

"It has been subsidized that way for decades. We demand a contract renewal so that these tenants can stay in their community, and the building remains affordable for the long term and for generations to come," said Shriver Center on Poverty Law Attorney Emily Coffey who represents the tenant association.

Andriana Vera has lived in Humboldt Park since she was a child. She said it's all about gentrification.

"The community is thinning out. A lot of people you used to see on the corners aren't there anymore," Vera said.

The attorney for the building's owner said they just want to change how these apartments are subsidized from Section 8 to individual affordable housing vouchers.

"We're actually not kicking anyone out of the building. We're not trying to take anyone's housing assistance and we're not trying to keep the building from being affordable housing," said real estate attorney Bonnie Varner.

Varner said these residents would still be able to stay in their units, but eventually vacated units may be rented to tenants without the need for government assistance.

State Representative Delia Ramirez said she is against it.

"When we lose this building of affordable housing, we will have lost it forever. And we are saying 'absolutely not,'" Ramirez said.
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