North Lawndale – Chicago Newstips by Community Media Workshop Chicago Community Stories Mon, 08 Jan 2018 18:45:05 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Auto pound blues Wed, 20 Jul 2011 21:20:59 +0000 In the spirit of the old-time rent parties, Chicago blues musicians are throwing an Auto Pound Blues Bailout for singer and drummer Larry Hill Taylor – whose van is stuck in a city pound — at a South Side cafe on Thursday.

Barrelhouse Bonni McKeown is on piano, Joe Harrington on bass, Jerry-O on guitar and West Side Wes on drums, and lots of guests can be expected, Thursday, July 21, 6 to 9 p.m., at Favia Cafe, 1701 S. Hale, near the Beverly Hills Metra stop.

Favia’s is donating free sandwiches, coffee and soft drinks will be on sale, you can BYOB, and the donation is $10 (or more).  Taylor’s CD, They Were In This House, and his memoir, Stepson of the Blues, will also be available.

Larry Hill Taylor

Taylor is the son of blues singer Vera Taylor and the stepson of blues great Eddie Taylor. He grew up in North Lawndale surrounded by the many of the greatest blues musicians of all time, and he’s performed with Albert Collins, Otis Clay, Junior Wells, among many others,  and toured Europe with Willie Dixon.

He’s struggling to keep the music going.  “He’s part of a whole generation that isn’t getting the promotion,” said Barrelhouse Bonni.  “And if they don’t get promoted, the younger generation won’t be inspired to take it up.”

Taylor started getting tickets on his van after his license plates were stolen, but an administrative hearing judge “ruled out any discussion of the merits of the tickets,” said McKeown, who went to his hearing.  With daily charges and fines doubling, he now owes the city over $1,000, and if the van isn’t “bailed out” by July 27 it will be sold, she said.

Taylor and McKeown co-authored “Stepson of the Blues,” which depicts the world of West Side blues in the 1960s and Taylor’s tough passages through gangs, prison, and addiction to become a working blues musician.  The book also presents what one reviewer calls “a full-throttle expose of the Chicago blues scene.”

“Larry Taylor is the guy who has spoken out for respect and fair pay for African American blues men and women while many others were afraid to do so,” said McKeown.  “He deserves our support.”

Foreclosure and renters: banks break the law Fri, 01 Jul 2011 20:19:20 +0000 Banks routinely violate state and federal laws protecting tenants in rental buildings in foreclosure, particularly in a “foreclosure belt” stretching across the South and West Sides, according to a new report.

Lenders and their agents “willfully ignore” laws that protect tenants in foreclosures and have “institutionalized in their practices the wholesale violation of tenants’ [legal] rights,” according to a report (pdf) from the Lawyers Committee for Better Housing.

Banks “generally ignore” federal law requiring them to honor existing leases after foreclosure on a rental building, according to the report.

Banks seek to vacate properties they’ve acquired – through illegal lockouts and through “misleading, harassing and threatening communications” with tenants – in order to evade legal responsibilities under the city’s tenant landlord ordinance, the report suggests.

Common practices by banks include providing false information regarding tenancy status, misrepresenting the law, refusing to acknowledge  that they are landlords, refusing to acknowledge responsibility for security deposits, and refusing to maintain buildings including basic utilities.

Eviction filings have fallen steadily since 2007 – and one reason may be that “a substantial number of evictions are carried out extra-judicially,” according to the report.

Tenants who refer to existing leases “are routinely ignored,” and when LCBH lawyers alert banks and their attorneys to illegal practices they too “are often ignored,” according to the report.

More rental units than owner-occupied units have been impacted by foreclosure in Chicago, according to LCBH.  The committee reports that 5,904 apartment buildings with 17,467 units went into foreclosure in Chicago last year.

Last year Wells Fargo, Chase, US Bank and Citimortgage each foreclosed on Chicago buildings totalling over 1,000 units; Bank of America foreclosed on buildings totalling over 2,000 units, according to the report.

Of “the most egregious cases” of illegal evictions encountered by LCBH lawyers, three-fourths occured in 20 African American and Latino communities on the South and West Sides that have been hardest hit by foreclosure.

In these communities, more than 10 percent of rental stock has been impacted by foreclosure.  In Avalon Park on the South Side and East Garfield Park on the West Side, it’s over 17 percent.

Stretching from South Chicago and South Shore to Chatham, Chicago Lawn, Gage Park, Englewood to Brighton Park, out to North Lawndale, Austin, Garfield Park and Humboldt Park, and up to Belmont Cragin and Avondale, these communities constitute Chicago’s “foreclosure belt,” according to the report.

In these communities, the “mass destruction of rental units” has created a downward spiral of blight and disinvestment.

“Illegal constructive evictions that lead to building vacancies and boardups have a clear solution: enforce the already existing laws that protect tenants living in foreclosed buildings,” according to the report.  It calls for “adding teeth” to existing statutes.