Kumbaya moment? Landlords, lenders, housing group sign “Housing Solidarity Pledge”

Engineered by Mayor Lori Lightfoot, the pledge is meant to ease the payment burden on homeowners and renters, but critics say it’s not enough

Chicago /
Apr.April 30, 2020 10:00 AM
Several banks, landlords and tenant groups have signed onto Mayor Lightfoot’s “Chicago Housing Solidarity Pledge" (Credit: Lightfoot by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Several banks, landlords and housing groups have signed onto Mayor Lightfoot’s “Chicago Housing Solidarity Pledge” (Credit: Lightfoot by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

UPDATED, May 2, 7:33 a.m.: In one of the stranger scenes to play out during the coronavirus crisis, Mayor Lori Lightfoot has engineered a nonbinding agreement between participating landlords, lenders and a housing group.

Landlords who agree to the “Chicago Housing Solidarity Pledge” will give tenants grace periods on their rent payments, waive late fees and set up payment plans so renters don’t have to provide lump-sum amounts, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Bank lenders like Bank of America, BMO Harris, Northern Trust, US Bank, PNC, Wintrust and Fifth Third say they will suspend foreclosure proceedings through May, and will not report late payments to credit reporting agencies, according to the Sun-Times.

Evictions in Cook County have been temporarily halted but with May rent coming due Friday, and with landlords still able to begin eviction proceedings, the climate of uncertainty in the city has raised tensions. Some homeowners have also fallen behind on mortgages. This all comes as Gov. J.B. Pritzker extended the state’s stay-at-home order through May, while acknowledging he is considering a phased approach to reopening the economy.

Lightfoot said the pledge would keep people in their homes, “whether they’re renters or landlords or owners of single family homes like mine,” the outlet reported.

But not everyone is on board. A group calling itself the Autonomous Tenants Union tweeted out that the pledge was “wholly insufficient,” and is calling for suspension of all rent payments and mortgage collections.

Most Chicago landlords were able to collect full rent payments for April, but a larger share of missed or partial payments are expected in May. Some landlords have already agreed to payment plans for tenants severely affected by Covid-19. Others, like Mac Properties, manages about 5,000 units across the city, have raised the ire of renters who say they are insensitive to the current crisis. [Sun-Times] — Alexi Friedman

Correction: This article was updated to reflect that a housing group, not tenant groups, signed onto the pledge.


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