A group of housing organizers and tenants of Mac Properties marched through Nichols Park and the surrounding neighborhood early Saturday afternoon, ending up in front of Mac’s offices at the intersection of 53rd Street and Kenwood Avenue, where they left a mock eviction notice on the company’s front door.
Saturday’s action, hosted by Mac Tenants United, Tenants United Hyde Park Woodlawn, Lift The Ban Coalition, Autonomous Tenants Union and Chicago Democratic Socialists of America, comes as Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s statewide eviction moratorium is set to expire on July 31, leaving tenants across Illinois vulnerable to eviction filings for the first time in months.
John Hieronymus, an organizer with the larger Tenants United group, said that the organization is attempting to create an “anti-eviction network” in Hyde Park and Woodlawn, as well as South Shore and other nearby neighborhoods. The network would act directly against evictions as they are taking place — Hieronymus said he is particularly worried that landlords will try to turn out tenants illegally over the next few months, before county courts open for normal operations.
After delivering the notice to Mac’s offices, some tenants shared their stories of living in Mac buildings. Ximena Mora said that they had been “forced out” of their Mac building by rent increases — they live in Pilsen now. “As tenants you do have that power to band together and make the landlord pay for those changes,” said Mora, “because we are paying for them to continue to be in this neighborhood and develop in this neighborhood.”
One tenant, Faye Porter, has lived in a Mac-owned building for 10 years — during that time, she said, her rent has gone up by $600.
“From the time we moved in, we’ve been fighting with them. From the building being clean to the walls being painted,” said Porter. “There’s too many people that can’t pay rent, that’ll be out on the street. The people that thought they were never going to be out on the streets will be on the streets.”
Porter is part of Mac Tenants United, which formed this past spring when tenants went on rent strike during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, the group is trying to reorient itself toward longer-term organizing.
“We only demand certain things at certain times," Porter said. "Right now we’re focused on evictions. During the wintertime, it might be heating issues. So this is an ongoing, continuous organization. When students are involved, when they go on somewhere else, someone else takes their place.
“Because this is continuous, we want to build it up to a point where the university, Mac Properties, TLC know that (they) will have to be accountable to someone, and that’s us.”