ROGERS PARK — A renovation to fix problems at an affordable housing complex in Rogers Park has instead caused more issues than it solved, tenants said.
The Northpoint Apartments in the 7700 block of North Paulina Street underwent a $21 million renovation recently after being purchased by prominent development firm Related Midwest. Northpoint is a 12-building, 304-unit development that includes federally subsidized Section 8 housing.
Renters returned to their renovated homes in summer 2021 only to see some appliances, such as stoves, were inoperable, and issues such as pest infestations not solved, they said at a rally against the landlord in March.
Those issues have still not been fixed, and now some residents are saying they’ve been incorrectly charged back-rent payments, adding to their frustration with the landlord.
Brenda Dunkins-Webber, a 30-year-resident of Northpoint, said a new manager was assigned to the complex after residents complained about the last one. But now some residents are being asked to pay thousands of dollars or else face eviction, Dunkins-Webber said.
The neighbors said the back-pay requests are due to a clerical error in calculating tenants’ rent contributions, as renters of subsidized units have to pay 30 percent of their income for housing and utilities.
“We have not chosen to live here,” Dunkins-Webber said. “We have no place else to go.”
Laretha Owens said her unit in Northpoint flooded in June 2021 and again earlier this month when a “supercell storm” inundated the North Side.
In both cases, the landlord has not adequately repaired the apartment or offered to compensate Owens for damages, she said. Instead, management suggested she get renter’s insurance, which is not feasible given her income, Owens said.
“The floors are still damp,” she said. “It’s going to rain again and it’s going to flood again. If the apartments are not suitable, why rent it?”
Related Midwest, which owns and operates subsidized housing complexes in Chicago, said it has been working on a massive renovation of Northpoint Apartments since acquiring the property.
That includes a new roof, new windows, upgraded plumbing and renovated kitchens.
“We’re proud of the investments we have made and of our commitment to provide the best quality housing options and responsive services to residents across the city,” company representatives said in a statement.
The company representatives did not respond to questions about the back-rent issue.
Residents of the building have teamed up with organizers at Northside Action For Justice to demand Related Midwest finish the improvements to Northpoint before moving forward with its plans for The 78 megadevelopment in the South Loop.
The mega-development has been given up to $1.1 billion in tax-increment financing dollars to build the project. Housing activists want the city to withhold those funds until issues at the Northpoint are solved, they said.
“We’re talking about basic living conditions,” said Angela Clay, an organizer with Northside Action For Justice. “I can guarantee you that residents of [The 78] will never have to beg for a stove.”
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