Tenants Say: BJB Has Got to Go

The tenants of Rogers Park’s Astor House are fighting to take back their building.

ROGERS PARK–(ENWESPF)–March 28, 2013.  Using signs and banners, as well as face paint to look like the mice and bedbug­s that plague their residence, the tenants will picket today outside the Astor House at 1246 W. Pratt to send the message that they’re not giving up.

At a 10:30 a.m. press conference, tenants will discuss the mass eviction that is currently under way in the building, as well as serious problems with their units — including bedbugs, mice, roaches, contaminated water, broken elevators, and inadequate heat.

Jamie Purcell, the developer who is the principal of BJB Properties, owns the building through a subsidiary. His company has filed over 40 eviction cases since it bought the building last fall; at least two residents who have been forced out by the current management are already homeless. Purcell is also trying to evict residents from the Chateau Hotel building in Uptown. 

Residents will tell Purcell and BJB “that we’re not planning on leaving – that we’re planning to fight back,” says tenant Arbie Bowman, who has lived in the building for two and a half years.

They will be joined by neighbors and Loyola University students who are helping them fight back, as well as supporters from Northside Action for Justice, Metropolitan Tenants Organization and Communities United Against Foreclosure and Eviction.

“We are trying to get our building back for people to stay here, who can’t afford any other housing than what we have got now,” Bowman says.

Tenants and their supporters have launched a boycott of BJB Properties, asking Loyola students and other community members not to rent from BJB until the company drops eviction cases against Astor House residents and agrees to negotiate with all tenant associations in its buildings about keeping its apartments affordable.