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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Wesley Avenue apartment tenants file lawsuit against property owners, managers

William Tong/The Daily Northwestern
Attorney Sheryl Ring Weikal said she will file a summons for the defendants in the lawsuit later this week.

A group of former 2014, 2018 and 2024 Wesley Ave. residents announced a class-action lawsuit Monday against the buildings’ owners and managers — Evanston Housing Coalition, Housing Opportunity Development Corporation and the now-dissolved Wesley-Green Bay Limited Partnership. 

In February, City officials ordered tenants to move out of the affordable housing units because of unsafe conditions resulting from structural deterioration in the stairs and platforms. Evanston ordered tenants at 2018 Wesley Ave. to leave days before a previously set May 13 deadline, citing a steel stair platform support “hanging from its last connection point.”

The remaining tenants at 2014 and 2024 Wesley Ave. were given a weeklong grace period after May 13 and have all moved to short- or long-term temporary housing. Throughout the last few months, many tenants and community activists have protested the way the defendants and city officials have handled the housing emergency. 

“We are here to let the city of Evanston know that this is not correct,” former 2014 Wesley Ave. tenant William Carter said at a Monday press conference. “The way the elderly, veterans, Black families in the first city of reparations has been treated is not correct.”

The lawsuit, filed on May 17, alleges that EHC and HODC failed to maintain the properties as required by Evanston’s residential landlord tenant ordinance. Through six counts, it asks a Cook County court to make the organizations compensate tenants who have lived at the Wesley apartments since June 2019 for the alleged neglect. 

The plaintiffs’ attorney, Sheryl Weikal, said she will file a summons for the defendants later this week. 

“Being a landlord carries with it a non-delegable duty to take care of your buildings,” Weikel said. “We believe that duty has been breached here. We believe the people who lived in this building deserved better than the neglect that they got.” 

EHC Board President Chris Hersee, who was named in the lawsuit as a defendant, told The Daily that the nonprofit has responded to a number of maintenance requests over the years. He also said EHC responded to a city notice saying residents would be ordered to leave if the properties’ safety issues were not fixed. 

EHC also contracted a structural engineer to review the building’s damage and prepare a written report, Hersee added. 

Still, Weikal said the building owners and managers did not do enough. According to the lawsuit, the condition of the properties had worsened since its initial reports.

During Monday’s press conference, tenants and their supporters reiterated calls for the city to offer more assistance with the transition to temporary housing. 

Several former residents are still in short-term stay in Skokie, according to Chiante Terry Bailey, whose father LaMart previously lived at 2014 Wesley Ave. 

LaMart Bailey had to wait several days before being able to access his medicine, which had been placed in storage, Chiante Bailey said.

“They should’ve had everything set out … for these elderly people that can barely walk,” Bailey said. 

The tenants are also filled with fear about their long-term future, said Kelli Nelson, the daughter and niece of two former Wesley tenants. 

“They’re our most vulnerable population, and now they’re vulnerable again,” Nelson said. “Two years from now, I can’t tell you where my dad’s going to be or my aunt’s going to be.” 

Email: [email protected]

X: @william2tong

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