ALBANY PARK — Tenants in three Albany Park apartments say they’re being evicted from their building because they’ve repeatedly asked their landlord to install security cameras after a series of break-ins, but the landlord said he’s kicking them out because they’re problem tenants.
The residents, who live in an apartment building at 3200 W. Sunnyside Ave. and say they’ve never missed a rent payment, are now being backed up by new Ald. Rosanna Rodriguez (33rd). Rodriguez is calling on landlord George Triff to provide better security in the building and to negotiate with the tenants he is kicking out.
Rodriguez pledged her support to the tenants as they gathered outside their apartment building Monday to announce the formation fo the Sunnyside Kedzie Tenants Union, a move they made with the help of the Autonomous Tenants Union.
Triff filed eviction paperwork against Eva Jaramillo and her family on June 25. Her family is one of the three being kicked out of the building. There are a total of 52 units in the building.
Triff said he’s owned the building since 1997 with few problems. Now he needs to work to make repairs to the three units and doesn’t “want to work with people living inside them.”
“That’s the whole story,” he said.
On Monday, Jaramillo, who has lived in the building for 16 years, said she is a native of Mexico and came to Albany Park with her husband in 2003. She rents a one-bedroom garden apartment at 3200 W. Sunnyside Ave. for $700 a month.
While she missed her family when she first came to Chicago, her new home’s grocery stores, churches, and the many businesses that sell Michoacana style ice cream made her feel welcome in Albany Park.
“When I came to Chicago the only luggage I had was my dreams,” Jaramillo said in Spanish.
Today she lives in the apartment with her husband and three daughters — ages 14, 10 and about 1 year old — and said she’s never missed a rent payment.
But not all her memories of the apartment have been happy. She and her husband have complained to their landlord George Triff about vermin, including bed bugs, roaches and rats, and a lack of proper heating and insulation in the winter.
And since a rash of break-ins and attacks at the apartment complex over the past two years, they’ve also asked him to do something about the building’s security, like installing security cameras.
On May 3, 2018, someone broke into their apartment and robbed them while she was pregnant, Jaramillo said.
“The door was broken and my drawers were ransacked. The money we had saved, and our rent money, was gone,” Jaramillo said. “But even though our money was stolen we didn’t miss our rent payments to Mr. Triff.”
A woman who lives in the building was attacked during a break-in on April 21 of this year, a law enforcement source confirmed. And on April 22, two men broke into a first-floor apartment in the building and pistoled-whipped the two men who lived there and stole $200 from them. The men entered the home through a gangway and fired a single gunshot, but no one was hit, according to WGN.
Police declined to answer questions about the break-ins and attack at the apartment building and instead directed Block Club to file a Freedom of Information Act request.
Complaints to the landlord have fallen on deaf ears, Jaramillo said.
Triff declined to answer questions about his tenants’ complaints regarding vermin and heating in the winter.
But he said he believes at least one of the attacks was an “inside job.” The property doesn’t need security cameras and the building’s gates and doors are locked, he said.
“Somebody who moved in is not in good things,” he said.
Tenants dispute Triff’s claim that the gates are always locked. A video taken this week shows that one gate can be opened without a key.
Ald. Rodriguez sent a letter to Triff on June 12 asking him to sit down and “negotiate in good faith” with the newly formed Sunnyside Kedzie Tenants Union and to stop the eviction of the tenants he aims to kick out.
“These tenants have all been paying their rent on time, so these landlords have been making their money,” she said. “But these tenants aren’t getting the services they need or the adequate housing they need.”
Triff has not responded to the letter, Rodriguez said.
“What they’re asking for is basic. They’re not asking for a lot. Adequate heat in an apartment? That’s not asking for a lot,” she said. “To ask to feel safe in your home? That’s not asking for a lot. Especially when you’re paying your rent on time every month.”
On Tuesday, Triff said the tenants are “trying to twist my arm” to let them stay.
“I’m trying very hard to make a livable rental place for everybody. Ask them how much rent they pay. They can’t find other apartments and they’re trying to twist my arm,” he said. “Where else in Albany Park are you going to find an apartment for $700 a month in that area?”
A copy of the letter Ald. Rodriguez sent landord George Triff:
Video of Monday’s press conference can be found below.
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