User Log On
Church of Saint Bride
Church of Saint Bride
 South Shore is Chicago’s eviction capital

This post has been viewed 135 times.

Printable Version
Email to a Friend
Subscribe: Email, RSS

South Shore is Chicago’s eviction capital

Posted on Mon, May 1, 2017

http://www.chicagoreader.com/Bleader/archives/2017/04/17/south-shore-is-chicagos-eviction-capital 5/8

Of the dozen evictions one four‑deputy squad from the Cook

County sheriff's office set out to enforce on the south side last

Friday, none ended in a screaming match, armed showdown, or hail

of cockroaches from a broken‑down doorjamb. No disgruntled

tenant tried to punch a landlord, no dead bodies were found, nor

any bathtubs full of weed—all things they say they've seen in the

past. None of the deputies had to get deloused or throw out

clothes contaminated with bedbugs; they didn't even need to rub

Vicks under their noses before entering any of the units. It was a

calm day by the deputies' standards—just a handful of muted

tragedies.

Tenants who were home were escorted out in quiet resignation. At

alone were taken to a sergeant's car to wait for their mom while the

maintenance man changed the lock behind them. At the team's last

stop, deputy Christopher Kolosa stared down at a disco ball on the

􀓿oor of a child's bedroom. "It's an eviction," he said. "It's an

eviction," echoed deputy Marvin Marin with a shrug. They stuck a

large neon‑green "No Trespassing" sign on the front door, and

marked the job as complete.

Some 30 members of the sheriff's eviction team fan out across

Cook County every day to enforce anywhere from 40 to 80 eviction

orders. The deputies' busiest and most unpredictable days take

place in an area of the south side that includes South Shore—Cook

County's eviction capital.

According to data obtained from the sheriff's o􀔀ce, no Cook

County zip code has seen more evictions than South Shore, 60649,

since the o􀔀ce began tracking these numbers in 2011. Last year

the sheriff's o􀔀ce conducted 382 evictions in the area bounded by

Stony Island Avenue, the lakefront, Jackson Park, and 79th Street—

eight times more than the average. Between 2014 and 2016 the

neighborhood saw about 20 percent more evictions than the

second‑busiest zip code, 60619, which includes parts of Chatham,

Avalon Park, and Greater Grand Crossing.

4/27/2017 South Shore is Chicago’s eviction capital | Bleader

http://www.chicagoreader.com/Bleader/archives/2017/04/17/south-shore-is-chicagos-eviction-capital 4/8

PAUL JOHN HIGGINS

This data only presents a partial picture of the the magnitude of

the eviction problem, however, since it doesn't account for what

researchers call "forced moves"—those spurred by sudden spikes in

rent prices and chronic maintenance problems—or for people who

leave on their own after losing eviction cases in court.

South Shore's high concentration of sprawling, multiunit apartment

buildings owned by large property companies and its high poverty

rates appear to explain the neighborhood's dubious distinction.

The area's housing stock consists mostly of multifamily apartment

buildings, and nearly 80 percent of the occupied housing units are

rentals—20 percent more than the proportion of renter‑occupied

housing units in the city as a whole. And according to the 2014

American Community Survey, half of South Shore households live

on less than $25,000 per year.

Development booms at the end of the 19th century and in the

1920s combined with early 20th century white flight to shape

South Shore's built environment. As more African‑Americans

settled in other parts of the south side, middle‑class whites flocked

to the lakefront. This led to the construction of stately apartment

buildings in the neighborhood, especially on South Shore Drive,

 

http://www.chicagoreader.com/Bleader/archives/2017/04/17/south-shore-is-chicagos-eviction-capital 5/8

which runs along the water, and in Jackson Park Highlands, the area

between the southern edge of Jackson Park and 71st Street.

Until the 1960s, South Shore was a middle‑class neighborhood and

more than 90 percent white, but by the 1980s the racial balance

had completely reversed: South Shore became 96 percent black,

though it remained middle‑class. In recent years, however, the

median family income in the neighborhood has steadily declined.

These economic realities have presented challenges for South Shore

residents as rent prices in the area have climbed. According to a

recent report by the DePaul Institute for Housing Studies, South

Shore has one of the largest gaps between the supply and demand

of affordable housing in the city. And, according to data analyzed

by Chicago magazine, though the median rent price in the

neighborhood is below $1,250 per month, some 64 percent of

South Shore's 22,700 households are rent burdened, or paying

more than 30 percent of their monthly income for rent. Even

though more than 5,000 South Shore households have Section 8

vouchers, which provide a federally funded housing subsidy, the

need for rental assistance doesn't come close to being met.

"The issue is unemployment, and lack of investment by the city and

by companies," says alderman Leslie Hairston, whose Fifth Ward

includes parts of northern South Shore. Though she says she

doesn't hear much about evictions from her constituents, she

wasn't surprised to learn about the higher‑than‑average eviction

rate in South Shore. "You look at the number of people working

two, three jobs just to try to make ends meet—it's challenging," she

says.

But John Bartlett, executive director of Metropolitan Tenants

Organization, says he hears plenty about evictions in the

neighborhood. His group runs a hotline for tenants needing help

with evictions, and gets more calls from South Shore than from

almost anywhere else in the city. The highest volume of evictionrelated

calls comes from Hairston's ward. "There definitely appears

to be a crisis happening there," Bartlett says.

Research by Harvard sociologist (and recent Pulitzer Prize winner)

Matthew Desmond has shown that evictions aren't just a symptom

of poverty, but a cause. Among other things, evictions lead to job

loss, greater difficulty finding a new home, declining mental health,

particularly for mothers, and school performance problems for

kids.

South Shore's sometimes half‑block long multistory courtyard

apartment buildings are typically owned by large companies—forprofit

entities pulling in as much as tens of millions of dollars in

annual revenues—who deal with thousands of tenants across the

city. These companies have dedicated crews to handle property

maintenance, online rent payment systems, and attorneys on

retainer or on staff to efficiently navigate eviction court. And if

South Shore is Chicago's eviction capital, Pangea Properties is its

undisputed mayor.

Pangea owns and manages some 8,000 rental units in Chicago and

the suburbs, making it one of the largest landlords in the region.

The company has regularly appeared on Crain's annual list of

Chicago's 50 fastest‑growing companies, and has grown by more

than 1,000 percent in the last five years. Pangea is also the Chicago

Housing Authority's largest contractor housing families with

Section 8 vouchers, collecting more than $1 million per month in

rent from those tenants alone, a Sun‑Times investigation found last

year.

Last year, Pangea filed more than 1,000 eviction cases, usually also

seeking back rent, and won about 60 percent of them, according to

the data we obtained from the clerk of the circuit court. Other

cases were either dismissed or are still pending. Pangea's eviction

case‑filing rate—one for every eight units the company owns—

appears to be high even when measured against those of other

large real estate companies. By comparison, Kass Management

Services, a property‑management company with 5,000 units and

South Shore's second‑largest evictor, filed one eviction last year for

every 25 units in its portfolio.

Pangea owns about 1,500 units in South Shore—more than it owns

in any other neighborhood. In 2016, 27 of the 382 evictions

performed by the sheriff's office in South Shore, or 7 percent, were

at Pangea properties. In comparison, properties managed by Kass

saw 16 evictions, or 4 percent.

It's not clear why Pangea evicts so many more people than its

competitors. The Reader repeatedly contacted Pangea and the

company's primary eviction‑court attorney, Jennifer Dean, but they

didn't respond to multiple attempts to reach them via phone, email,

and in writing.

But some sources believe that the company's high eviction rate

stems from its overall growth and acquisition habits—buying up

distressed and foreclosed buildings, clearing them of existing

tenants, then renovating them and re‑leasing to low‑income

households who fit their screening criteria.

In an interview with the Sun‑Times last year, Pangea's CEO Steve

Joung explained that the company likes to buy up distressed

buildings by the block, saying the company's mission is "to provide

investment in underserved neighborhoods." The company has won

several "Good Neighbor" awards from the Chicago Association of

Realtors for its rehab and redevelopment of large apartment

buildings, and several sources say that the company seems to be

4/27/2017 South Shore is Chicago’s eviction capital | Bleader

http://www.chicagoreader.com/Bleader/archives/2017/04/17/south-shore-is-chicagos-eviction-capital 7/8

Tweet Share

focused on rehabbing troubled buildings and renting units at

somewhat affordable prices—the company's current listings in

South Shore offer two‑bedroom apartments for between $775 and

$1,025 per month.

But the company's high rate of acquisitions troubles some

observers.

"If you want to know Pangea's ambitions, they named themselves

after the ancient supercontinent," says Mark Swartz, director of the

Lawyers' Committee for Better Housing. "They are buying up the

south side."

Swartz's group, which provides free legal aid to about 1 percent of

tenants going through eviction court, has represented a handful of

Pangea's residents. Swartz says he's observed that "Pangea clears

out a lot of buildings to do work on them, or if the current tenants

don't meet Pangea's standards."

Willie "J.R." Fleming, director of the South Shore‑based Chicago

Anti‑Eviction Campaign, has noticed a similar trend. He thinks

Pangea, whose investors, according to the Sun‑Times investigation,

include Illinois governor Bruce Rauner, is buying buildings in South

Shore in anticipation of property values getting a boost from glitzy

new projects like the Tiger Woods golf course planned for Jackson

Park.

"Pangea definitely has their eye on South Shore," Fleming says.

It's hard to say what the long‑term consequences of Pangea's

property acquisitions—and subsequent evictions—will be for South

Shore. But Desmond's research suggests that evictions provoke not

only long‑term instability for individual tenants and families, but

for entire neighborhoods. A constant turnover of residents may

exacerbate crime—something South Shore, with its rising violent

crime rate, can scarcely afford. But long‑term tenants have a

stabilizing effect on a community, even if they're struggling to pay

rent.

"I would hope that investors that take over buildings try to be

sensitive to the fact that residents may have been living in them for

a long time," says Swartz. "Many of these buildings are

communities. People have to live somewhere."

Tags: evictions, South Shore, south side, Pangea Properties, eviction court, Cook County sheriff’s office,

Jennifer Dean, Anti‑Eviction Campaign, Willie "J.R." Fleming, Kass Management Services, Mark Swartz,

Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing, Matthew Desmond, Evicted, Image

4/27/2017 South Shore is Chicago’s eviction capital | Bleader

 


© 2017, Church of Saint Bride
archchicago.org@stbride
Welcome, guest!
Log In Create Account Search
Church Websites