HYDE PARK — Tenants who live in Mac Properties buildings are calling on the landlord to suspend rent payments in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, or they might stage a rent strike if their request isn’t met.
If executed, the rent strike would last “until people are capable of paying, or there’s government intervention to either suspend rent or make sure that workers in the neighborhood have the money they need to cover rent,” said John Hieronymous, a founding member of Tenants United. The group is looking to bring together Hyde Parkers who are interested in supporting the cause.
“If we pull together the kinds of people that we need to make [a strike] effective, we are going to [strike],” Hieronymous said. “There’s an upswing in people’s willingness to talk about rent strikes because people are literally in an emergency.”
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has placed a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures through April. The Cook County Sheriff’s Office is not assisting with evictions for the time being.
Most American renters will not be eligible for eviction protections, which would be in place for 60 days, according to the Chicago Tribune. HUD’s plan would only apply to single-family homes with loans through the Federal Housing Administration. That applies to about eight million people, as compared to the 43 million renters nationwide, according to the U.S. Census.
A rent strike “is a risky tactic, even when you’re completely justified,” Hieronymous said. Organizers are only in the “very early stages” of a potential strike.
For now, Tenants United is asking tenants to call Mac Properties and demand rent be canceled during the pandemic.
Mac Properties representatives did not return a request for comment.
Mac Properties owns 32 buildings in Hyde Park and Kenwood, according to its website, including: 5252 S. Cornell Ave., which opened late last year; Windermere House, 1642 E. 56th St.; and Solstice on the Park, 1616 E. 56th St., a Jeanne Gang building which opened in April 2018.
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