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Affordable Housing Watch: SROs

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Megan Cottrell of The Chicago Reporter interviewed reporter and activist Bob Zuley on the matter of affordable housing in Lakeview. Zuley's diagnosis is a lot of inherent affordability has been lost in the recent shuttering of single room occupancy buildings (SROs). Many of these refuges for the working poor have been or will be converted to luxury rental buildings, including The Diplomat, The Belair, and Sheffield House. The only SRO left in operation is The Chateau and it's under heavy neighborhood pressure to close down. At the root of antagonism toward SROs is poor management and upkeep. The tenants are primarily unsubsidized workers that wish to live close to their service sector jobs. They bear little responsibility for how the property is maintained inside and out. Zuley argues that people confuse the problem, pinning everything on the tenants. Furthermore, other cities have taken steps to preserve SROs as a viable form of affordable housing. "Chicago's not a very proactive city in that regard," says Zuley. "The developers have the inside track, and the city isn't lifting a finger." [Chicago Now, photo: Zol87]