The Crusader Newspaper Group

PUSH signs community covenant with Capital Realty Group to make all repairs

After weeks of negotiations between Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., Bishop Tavis Grant, Rainbow PUSH national field director and Reverend Cameron Barnes, Rainbow PUSH national youth director, and Capital Realty Group that owns and manages the infested Concordia Place Apartments, a Rainbow PUSH Coalition Community covenant was signed Saturday ensuring repairs are made and elimination of all violations.

The signing of the agreement by Reverend Jackson and Malinda K. Matlock, who represented Capital Realty Group, was done in the complex’s community hall, 13037 S. Daniel Drive. The community hall is owned by Sam Horowitz, who heads the Capital Realty Group based out of New York. James A. Cunningham, HUD deputy regional administrator, was present at the signing.

For more than 20 years, residents of the Concordia Place Apartments, located in the 9th Ward, have complained about the infestation they have been forced to live with, including some mothers having to sleep in their cars to avoid mice invasions of their apartments.

Tamara Jackson

Tamara Jackson, a mother of five, said while Reverend Jackson has given her hope, “I won’t believe the repairs will be made until I see it. Before, all they did was a patch-up job.” Bishop Grant assured her there would be no patch-up done in the units.

It was Reverend Barnes who learned about the residents’ plight and went to Reverend Jackson for help. Barnes lives in Altgeld Gardens, which is next door to the Concordia Place Apartments. Barnes is Bishop Grant’s assistant.

Still recovering from a successful surgery, Reverend Jackson reached out to U.S. Representative Robin Kelly (D-2nd) and Illinois Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth, who fired off a letter to the Capital Realty Group, which owns and manages the privately-owned but HUD-financed 297-unit complex. The legislators demanded that all repairs be completed immediately.

For years and to no avail, the mothers have complained about mice, roaches, bedbugs, termites, mold, wooden stairs that have missing planks, and water that smells like feces. Reverend Jackson was outraged over the complaints and made a list of demands after touring some of the apartments. He had even called for and later endorsed a rent strike until all repairs are made.

Two weeks ago when negotiations broke down after it was learned that representatives from the Capital Realty Group violated inspection agreements, HUD officials shut down the unit inspections. Reverend Jackson called them back to the negotiating table via Zoom. HUD ordered a mandatory 100 percent inspection beginning April 8th.

AFTER WEEKS OF negotiating with The Capital Realty Group which owns and manages the infested Concordia Place Apartments, Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. Saturday signed the Rainbiw PUSH Coalition Community Covenant paving the way for the repairs to be made. (Photo by Chinta Strausberg)

“They (Capital Realty Group) are not doing this because they want to. They are doing it because these people, Reverend Jackson made them,” said Bishop Grant to the applause of the majority mothers attending the hearing in the community hall that had been closed to residents until Reverend Jackson intervened.

During the third hearing held on March 27th at the complex’s community hall, Bishop Grant thanked the members of the Concordia Tenants Association headed by Deborah Lewis and Loeb Brown for “raising hell, putting names on Facebook, putting pictures of the mold and rats” on social media platforms.

“I think it is significant that these parents learn that pressure and power bring about results,” said Bishop Grant.

The residents, Bishop Grant added, “should be commended for sticking together and standing up for themselves and bringing attention on not just Capital Realty Group, but elected officials, the management, the ownership and the residents-at-large, who, at this point, have the greatest support.”

The residents had complained that the complex property manager, Yolanda Green, had removed the hoops used by youth to play basketball, closed the laundry room on the weekends, towed their cars during the snowstorm, costing them $220 to retrieve their vehicles.

Additionally, Green charged more rent than HUD allowed for the Section 8 units, evicted residents if they complained, did not repair their units, gave them no recent receipts, padlocked both the playground and community hall, refused to give residents parking passes for family visits. There is only one way in and one way out of the complex, and Green allowed the maintenance men to have keys to residents’ apartments where some maintenance men asked the mothers how much they charged for sex.

Capital Realty Group negotiating team agreed to a residents’ Bill of Rights that reverses all the above complaints. “Residents will be free from any and all forms of retaliation consistent with HUD requirements, and they may report an allegation of harassment in confidence to a designated Capital Realty Group New York contact person or email them at: [email protected].

Bishop Grant said the agreement shows that the residents and the “work of Reverend Jackson does pay, and it means a lot. It makes it possible for people to believe and the cause of social justice as they learn how to fight for themselves.”

Referring to the announcement that one of the Capital Realty Group employees had been fired, Bishop Grant said he is not sure if it is the man who allegedly asked a mother how much she charges for sex or not, but the reason given was for sexual harassment.

Several mothers had complained about maintenance men “walking around with keys to our apartments and coming into our apartments unannounced. One of them came in my apartment when I was naked, and my little girl was in her nightgown and panties,” said Jackson, the mother of five. “That’s unacceptable.”

Both Bishop Grant and Reverend Jackson said that would never happen again. “One person has been terminated and others will be reprimanded,” Bishop Grant said. “What is significant to what happened is the dignity of people.”

Bishop Grant said HUD’s 48-hour tenant notice maintenance men must abide by “has been gravely abused by management and by ownership. It’s a federal regulation they have not abided for.”

During one of the negotiating sessions when the issue of sexual harassment by one maintenance man came up, a Capital Realty Group representative said he would keep him employed.

However, Reverend Jackson, Bishop Grant and Reverend Janette Wilson, national executive director for the PUSH Excel program, said that was totally unacceptable. The representative later came back on the Zoom discussion and announced that the employee had been fired.

“When people are down, unemployed, sheltered-in-place, children not able to go to school, people don’t have access to health care and non-health services and live in a food desert, it is like living under siege,” Bishop Grant said.

And that victory was important to the negotiating team. Bishop Grant explained that “is critical to women who are already dealing with any number of difficult situations. They should not have their sexual well-being imposed upon and should not have their rights diminished.

“The significance of that firing was important to restore the dignity and respect of the mothers, who now know they have the will and the power to fight for themselves and know how to win, and they are winning as we speak,” Bishop Grant stated. “These women are indeed worthy, and it proves that Black women matter.”

When asked if the Concordia Place Apartments project is over, Bishop Grant made it clear. “No, we are nowhere near through. We’ve got a lot of work ahead, the inspections, the extermination and elimination of the vermin, the bugs and insects, and the rehabilitation.

“We are working towards a new Concordia Place Apartments, and we’re not done until that is accomplished.”

Capital Realty Group agreed they will abide by the Illinois Eviction Moratorium and will not evict anyone for unpaid rent. Residents who are paying the HUD minimum rent of $25 a month, may be eligible for a short-term or long-term hardship exemption wavier for rent and will receive assistance with the paperwork. Capital Realty Group will no longer require two separate verifications of income. The only recertification will be the HUD-required annual recertification.

Those seeking assistance may call Capital Realty Group at 773.995.5200 or email at: [email protected].


Recent News

Scroll to Top