Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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City offers one-week grace period for Wesley Avenue tenants to move out

Jerry Wu/The Daily Northwestern
After the city boarded up 2018 Wesley Ave., it is offering a weeklong grace period for 2014 and 2024 Wesley Ave. tenants to move out ahead of a previously set May 13 deadline.

Evanston will allow a weeklong grace period for the remaining tenants at 2014 and 2024 Wesley Ave. to move out of their apartments, Ald. Bobby Burns (5th) told The Daily Sunday. 

In February, city officials informed tenants at the two properties and 2018 Wesley Ave. that structural deterioration in the buildings’ stairs and platforms had made the apartments unsafe to live in. The city set a May 13 deadline for tenants to leave the buildings, city officials announced at an April 9 Fleetwood-Jourdain Community Center meeting.

As of Friday, at least seven tenant households still live at 2014 and 2024 Wesley Ave., according to a city statement. Since January, five households have moved out of the buildings, not including the tenants ordered to evacuate on May 9.

The remaining tenants are planning to stay for the grace period, according to 2014 Wesley Ave. tenant William Carter. 

“We’re in panic mode trying to pack up everything we can so we can move that day if they tell us we have to get out,” Carter said. 

Ahead of the May 13 deadline, the city ordered the remaining three tenant households at 2018 Wesley Ave. to move out and boarded up the building Thursday night. It did so citing Evanston’s dangerous buildings code — a steel support holding up a stair platform on the building detached, according to a Thursday notice signed by City Manager Luke Stowe.

In a Friday statement, the city said it reached out to each household at about 2:30 p.m. Thursday and that all tenants agreed to leave by 7:30 p.m. The families were placed in temporary housing, according to Community Alliance for Better Government President Sebastian Nalls. 

Thursday’s nighttime board-up operation caused alarm among several of the remaining Wesley tenants, they said. Neighboring 5th Ward residents and community activists also arrived, some shouting at the board-up crew and police to leave the apartment area. 

Carter said the tenants were “bullied” out of their homes. 

“If you tell them they have to leave because the building is unsafe — ‘you have to get out now’ — what choice do they have?” Carter said.  

He also questioned why the city didn’t take more action early on when the building’s structural issues were first discovered in 2022. 

Nalls arrived on the scene Thursday night because some neighboring tenants contacted him after noticing police and city contractor presence around the apartments, he said. The residents were concerned about their home being boarded up with little notice, Nalls added — in part because of what he called poor communication from the city to tenants. 

“They have been through a traumatic experience,” Nalls said. “The lack of communication or the inability to communicate effectively and intentionally with people has caused an exacerbation of the trauma.”

Carter agreed. He said the city did not communicate the move out grace period to him individually and has not proactively discussed the building’s future plans with its tenants. 

Burns, whose ward contains the apartments, maintained the city has been in contact with tenants. The city’s current priority is to provide immediate, quality substitute housing for the residents, he added. 

“Did they get the support that they needed? Did we get them to safety? Are we continuing to support them as they’re in extended stay with transportation assistance and food stipends?”, he said. “The answer is yes.”

Since March, city officials have said Evanston will provide displaced residents with housing search assistance, temporary stay and rent subsidies for long-term substitute housing. Burns said tenants who have moved into new apartments are all staying in either the 5th or 8th Wards.

But many of Carter’s neighbors said they’ve had trouble finding suitable replacement apartments in Evanston, Carter said. He said he has also faced issues in search of housing — seeking accomodations close to Evanston to take care of his aunt — because of housing vouchers and other limitations. 

Even with a weeklong grace period, the uncertainty persists, he said.

“Most of our stuff is packed up in boxes,” Carter said. “We’re basically living out of a suitcase.”

Email: [email protected] 

X: @william2tong

Related Stories: 

City orders tenants to vacate from 2018 Wesley Ave., boards up building entrances

City sets May 13 move-out deadline for Wesley Avenue apartment tenants

Wesley Avenue tenants negotiate for more alternative housing support after city recommends moving out

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