Tenant group holds protest over Section 8


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By Anna Lothson

Staff Reporter

"Fight, fight, fight, housing is a human right," was chanted Thursday outside Oak Park Apartments during a protest held outside the company's headquarters at 41 Chicago Ave., prompted by a prospective tenant who learned that the company no longer rents to tenants with federal government Section 8 housing vouchers.

The protestors were organized by the Metropolitan Tenants Organization (MTO) which is working to give renters a voice at the state level, urging legislation to "close the loophole" for landlords who don't want to rent to Section 8 applicants.

Sarah Perry, an MTO volunteer who helped rally the group, lives in Englewood but wanted to make Oak Park her home. She was told by Oak Park Apartments that it no longer accepts Section 8 vouchers.

"It's a better opportunity for me and my family," she said, citing Oak Park's better schools, more job options and healthy diversity.

Perry said the MTO came to raise awareness about what the group claims are unfair housing practices. They chanted about Oak Park redlining and said it's time to give everyone a fair chance at living where they want.

Oak Park Apartments owner Bill Planek said his company's policy of accepting no new Section 8 voucher holders isn't as simple as the MTO suggests. Accepting the vouchers changes the terms of his typical lease agreement, he said. The voucher represents an agreement between the Oak Park Housing Authority, the voucher recipient and the property owner, instead of just the tenant and landlord. Planek said his concerns are not with the local Housing Authority but with government agencies at higher levels that create and oversee the regulations attached to the program.

According to the Housing Authority's website, the agency enters into an agreement with the prospective tenant. Then, the tenant finds a unit and enters into a lease. The property owner and the Housing Authority enter into a "Housing Assistance Payments Contract" that provides a rent subsidy for the family through the Housing Authority.

Planek said the problem with that type of lease is that if the housing center ever takes away the recipient's voucher, the property owner still has the lease with the tenant but without the funding provided by the voucher. That creates a situation where the tenant may no longer be able to afford the apartment.

The MTO protest wasn't directed solely against Oak Park Apartments, but represents one of many stops the group plans in a county-wide fight. MTO selected Oak Park Apartments because it's one of the largest landlords in Oak Park with nearly 1,000 units.

"Many people with disabilities rely on vouchers for their housing," Adam Ballard, a voucher holder, said in an MTO release. "We want Oak Park Apartments and Cook County to end this legalized discrimination. All we are asking is to be treated like anyone else."

Currently, the City of Chicago forbids landlords to discriminate against voucher holders, but this is not the case in Cook County's suburbs. According to a news release from the MTO, Cook County Commissioner Jesus Garcia is trying to change that and has introduced legislation that would amend the county's Human Rights Ordinance to make it illegal to discriminate against Housing Choice Voucher holders.

"Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher holders are stereotyped and therefore often forced to live in high-crime, low-opportunity communities," said Shirley Johnson, MTO's organizing director. She said a rental policy that refuses to rent to voucher holders is blatant discrimination.

Edward Solan, executive director of the Oak Park Housing Authority, doesn't agree with Planek's position. Though a voucher holder can lose the voucher for a number of reasons, he said, it is not a common occurrence.

If the tenant doesn't pay their portion of the rent, for example, the housing authority may terminate the voucher. Solan said failing to pay is a default on the tenant's agreement and the housing agency would no longer aid that applicant.

The Oak Park Housing Authority currently holds 500 vouchers and has a lengthy waiting list. Waiting list applicants can only receive a voucher if a spot opens up, since no more are available from the county. Turnover in the program, however, is low, Solan said.

Because of how difficult it is to obtain a voucher and because keeping the voucher is essential for an individual or family's livelihood, it's "not common," he said, for a person to violate the voucher terms. The voucher could also be lost if a person's income moves above prescribed guidelines, but Solan said that's usually viewed as a positive thing.

Planek said his company rents to federally subsidized tenants, such as Hurricane Katrina refugees and people funded by various social service agencies, including West Suburban PADS and Catholic Charities. But in those instances, the subsidies cannot be pulled by the government or the agency because the lease terms differ. This, he said, demonstrates that his company does not discriminate.

Oak Park Apartments still has a handful of Section 8 housing voucher tenants, Planek said, but they have decided not to accept any further applicants. The decision is simply based on business realities, he said. The hassle of third-party leases aren't worth dealing with. It's not any person he's against, he said, but the system.

"There are no benefits to us," he noted. "I don't need to be involved in that relationship. … Being in business, we have to make decisions that are best for us, given how expensive it is to be in business and how costly it is to have a vacancy or have someone not paying you, so we expedite everything we do to make sure we have the best for our future growth."

Email: anna@oakpark.com Twitter: @AnnaLothson

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Reader Comments

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Magdalena from Palatine  

Posted: April 28th, 2014 2:02 PM

I own two rental properties, both have section 8 tenants, I always wonder how a criminal that drinks, smokes gets in hail often gets help, my other tenant smokes and drinks all the time and babysits her granddaughter and also gets her rent paid, I work with pain. Plus they miss their payements often, I am a single mom with an autistic son that gets no help, and these people completely damage my properties that I bought with a lot of work.

Ms. Williams from Chicago   

Posted: September 7th, 2013 10:46 AM

I'm really at a lost right now. I am currently on a waiting list to obtain section 8 assistance. This is not because I don't work (been employed with my company for 6 1/2yrs) but because I truly need the help. I only have one child yet I can barely feed her. The state will offer me NO assistance what so ever but they will/ have advised me to have more children and then come back and reapply. My neighborhood isn't the best however,my child is a principal's scholar and take care all of our things

Uncommon Sense  

Posted: August 1st, 2013 12:15 PM

Joe, that is the exact problem with these programs. Instead of being a safety net, they become a safety hammock. There is no reason that generations of people should be on government assistance other than poor decision making and being trifling. Benefits should be very limited and never more valuable than earning a days work, no matter how menial that work may be.

joe from south oak park  

Posted: August 1st, 2013 12:07 PM

at a certain point programs like section 8, SNAP and TANF become less of the temporary assistance that they were designed to be and more of a form of institutionalized poverty. When folks get close to the income threshold they often cannot afford to go over and risk looseing the benefits. Even the greatest intentioned ideas have unintended consequences. It would make more sense to put a time cap on this assistance so that it remains temporary as it was intended.

Violet Aura  

Posted: August 1st, 2013 11:47 AM

And Nancy? I notice this a lot from the teabaggers: "I work hard." WHY do you work hard? It sounds like a miserable existence. Life is supposed to be blissful; not HARD. So I always read into that sort of statement that the person hates their job and resents people getting stuff for free because if THEY have to suffer, the "freeloader" should, too! When really you should examine why you bought into a safe life which may not be personally satisfying and stop worrying about what others are getting

Violet Aura  

Posted: August 1st, 2013 11:44 AM

Nice, Nancy...So you are equating working with taking care of your apt.? Everyone who is not working is a complete blob according to you. Trust me, honey: I have put in my time in BER-wyn so I know that blue-collar Berwyn/Brookfield/Riverside mentality.

Anderson from Chicago  

Posted: August 1st, 2013 11:40 AM

Not everyone that has Section 8 is a bad tenant there are some people out here that make it bad for others there are a lot of people that have a Section 8 voucher that are great tenants and just want a chance to give there family a better life dont Stero Type everyone the have Section 8 to be bad some have lost there jobs an need help until they get on there feet you never know when you might be that person everyone needs a chance do back ground checks on your tenants section 8 is not a Disease

Sensible from Oak Park  

Posted: July 10th, 2013 2:12 PM

A Section 8 tenant told me that she doesn't work because it's easier to get more help from HACC. They give her $750 towards her security deposit and $750 after she moves in to new place to do what she wants with. I know of people that work full-time and can't afford the place she gets for free! She has more than the people who work full-time!!! She spends her days smoking cigarettes and has 2 cell phones, too!!! Where's the common sense and when does the handout stop?

Nancy from Brookfield  

Posted: July 10th, 2013 10:05 AM

I work very hard for what I have, therefore I take good care of it. I gave a Section 8 tenant a chance to live in an apartment that I own and she trashed the kitchen and 2 bathrooms beyond repair, so they now need new cabinets and vanities. The carpeting has burn holes and stains, so that needs to be replaced, too. Many of the new windows need repair or replacement. All but one interior door has to be replaced because of holes in them. I WILL NEVER RENT TO SOMEONE WHO DOES NOT WORK AGAIN!

joe from south oak park  

Posted: June 8th, 2013 11:26 AM

Holy Frankenstein thread Batman!

yaya talley from church road  

Posted: June 8th, 2013 8:53 AM

I just terminated a lease contract under sec 8 and will never rent under that program again. The tenants did not pay two weeks rent,damaged my property and left it in a filthy condition. It is my belief that each of us should live within our means. I support caring for our aged, but entitlement programs for able-bodied individuals breeds irresponsible lazy citizens. Everyone needs to work for what they get. Every blessing is greater appreciated when we have worked to earn it. Enough of enabling

commonsense from chicago  

Posted: January 15th, 2013 8:56 PM

Answer me this.... When has inviting section 8 residents, in the history of the united states, to any neighborhood or suburb ever done any good? Lets stop being cowards and admit it.

Poo Filled Sock Perpetrator from Austin  

Posted: December 21st, 2012 10:37 AM

y wont u take my section 8 voucher?

OP Resident #267 from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: December 20th, 2012 10:06 PM

Mr. Simpson, I'll sign that petition, but only to get any community in Cook County outside of Oak Park and Chicago to start accepting Section 8 vouchers and providing affordable housing. If you are insinuating that Oak Park isn't doing more than its share already you are clearly avoiding the published facts.

OP Transplant  

Posted: December 20th, 2012 5:39 PM

Discrimination? Based on what? Do people automatically fall into some protected minority status by using Sec 8 vouchers? If taking the vouchers adds a layer of complication to the process, why shouldn't property owners be able to choose whether to take them or not? Some businesses don't take credit cards. Is that discrimination?

Bob Simpson from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: December 20th, 2012 4:49 PM

There is an online petition asking the Cook County Commissioners to end discrimination against Section 8 tenants. Currently landlords in suburban Cook County can deny housing to someone simply because they receive a HUD Housing Voucher. Although landlords cannot deny housing to people on the basis of race, disability, or family status, many voucher holders fall into one of those categories. Please sign the petition at: https://www.change.org/petitions/cook-county-commissioners-stop-discrimination-against-housing-voucher-holders

OP Resident # 545 from Oak Park  

Posted: December 20th, 2012 3:37 PM

Mr Simpson, why? I'm a 50+ yr resident of South OP, & it isn't now, nor has it ever been a "working class" town. That's a myth. Berwyn,Cicero & Stickney fit that description. Like it or not, OP is an upscale place (though not to the extent RF, Winnetka are) & always has been. OP Transplant has it right. Why import poverty into your town, when other than a Sec 8 voucher you can't provide anything else to lift them out of said poverty?

OP Transplant  

Posted: December 20th, 2012 3:32 PM

Bob - I don't mean to offend you, but being told by you that I "need " to do something is less than convincing. Maybe you could explain why I (and other Oak Parkers) should do this.

Bob Simpson from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: December 20th, 2012 3:29 PM

Oak Park needs to join with other suburbs to support County Commissioner Jesus Garcia's efforts to change the County's Human Rights Ordinance to prevent discrimination against people holding Section 8 vouchers. This should be a priority for the Village Community Relations Department.

OP Transplant  

Posted: December 20th, 2012 3:15 PM

Somebody explain to me how the village of OP would benefit from more Sec 8 housing. Does anyone truly believe that D97 or the OPPD would like to see a lot of rental units become available to Sec 8 tenants? If so, make your case. Just tell me how we, as a village, benefit from more Sec 8 housing.

SOP Sally  

Posted: December 20th, 2012 2:51 PM

"Fight, fight, fight, housing is a human right," but only of you can afford to live there.


Posted: December 20th, 2012 1:19 PM

Bob - True, but so could Winnetka, Hinsdale, Oak Brook, Barrington, etc. I consider myself "working class" but cannot afford those communities, yet live in OP.

Bob Simpson from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: December 20th, 2012 12:35 PM

This is disgraceful. Oak Park needs more housing working class people can afford.

OP Transplant  

Posted: December 19th, 2012 4:46 PM

I find that sometimes the attitudes expressed here defy common sense. Communities with higher rates of poverty and unemployment tend to have higher crime rates. Schools with a higher rate of children living in poverty tend not to perform as well. Why would any community go out of its way to try to attract a higher rate of poor and unemployed residents? Why would we want more Sec 8 housing? What are people thinking?


Posted: December 19th, 2012 3:36 PM

I agree with OTP. Perhaps the govt can subsidize those of us that would like to upgrade from OP as well, perhaps Winnetka. Why am I denied access to the highly-ranked New Trier school district? Less crime, better schools, etc.

OP Transplant  

Posted: December 19th, 2012 3:07 PM

@ Response... Nothing unwitting about it. A community that seeks out the poor and unemployed as residents is planting the seeds of its own destruction. What community wants to increase its own rate of poverty and unemployment? Why should we?

Response to OP Transplant  

Posted: December 19th, 2012 2:53 PM

OP transplant: in other words keep those kids in the ghetto because they don't add value to our "community" because the family is poor. You have unwittingly exposed the diversity fraud that is now Oak Park.

OP Transplant  

Posted: December 19th, 2012 2:24 PM

People aren't always honest about what "diversity" means. Communities benefit from having residents of different races, ethnicities, and cultures. I don't believe, however, that any community benefits from more poverty, or a higher number of unemployed residents. Increasing the number of poor and unemployed residents in the name of diversity is a mistake.

Uncommon Sense  

Posted: December 19th, 2012 1:53 PM

I just find it odd that people who are basically getting a hand out are bitching about where they can live. If the landlord doesn't want to deal with the Section 8 bureaucracy, that is his choice. At some point, it ain't about the money. Sometimes the headaches of dealing with the govt just aren't worth it. The tenants are free to find somewhere else to live or they can get a job and pay their rent on their own like everyone else in OP.

OP Transplant  

Posted: December 19th, 2012 1:28 PM

I'm going to suggest that there is a fundamental difference in perception. When I was young and broke, I lived in some crappy housing. I never had the perception that I was being excluded from more expensive places. I also never felt entitled to live places I couldn't afford. After years of education, work, and saving, I can now afford a pretty average Oak Park house. If I couldn't live here before I could afford it, why should I have to subsidize rent so others can?

Monica Klinke from Oak Park  

Posted: December 19th, 2012 11:31 AM

I have personally known and worked with the Planek family for well over ten years. They are a wonderful asset to this community. They invested in the east side of Oak Park before anyone else had the courage and foresight to do so. By refusing Section 8 vouchers, Bill Planek is simply stating that he prefers to choose his charitable activity rather than have it chosen for him. I'm pretty sure that's how it's supposed to work here in America.


Posted: December 19th, 2012 10:33 AM

A reasonable conversation can and should be had about whether the HUD requirements for private landlords engaging in renting to households using a Housing Choice (Section 8) voucher should be changed. However, let us please refrain from broad stereotypes about who uses vouchers and their behavior. Whether or not you need a little help does not define whether or not you will be a good tenant. Lets raise the quality of the conversation on here.

Boo Hoo from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: December 18th, 2012 10:30 PM

Stop taking advantage of the bleeding hearted liberals in Oak Park and appreciate what you're already getting from this community. Why not protest in Barrington or Wilmette or Hillside, communities that give nothing to those in need? Google "bite the hand that feeds" before your next ill conceived protest.

Violet Aura  

Posted: December 18th, 2012 3:56 PM

Jean: Target is no better than Walmart. They are non-unionized and sinking their teeth into various areas, which push out the little guy. But Tar-ZHAY is marketed towards White middleclass peeps and not hillbillies or "diverse" types. The OP liberals love yakking about equality but it's funny how I never see them at the Blue Line depot in Forest Park or on the Austin bus or even in large numbers on the Green Line anymore. It's easy to talk about diversity when your block is devoid of it.


Posted: December 18th, 2012 10:22 AM

Violet Aura never stops to refuel and, perchance to think, does she...I believe "white, do-gooding" women shop at Target, Sears and JCP. Many of those you love to malign have forsaken "Mall-Wart" for various worthy philosophical reasons, but kudos for bringing snark to the season.


Posted: December 18th, 2012 10:15 AM

Too, one of the students killed appeared to be half African American and half Latino. Didn't you also see an African-American parent speaking to reporters? He was on many of the news segments. May I ask what is the purpose of your insinuation? Gang members kill a shockingly high number of people and they are usually all minoritie.(victims and gang members). Racism becomes no one and you are appearing mighty ugly.


Posted: December 18th, 2012 10:09 AM

You want to live here. Pay our taxes jerk off!. What you want is to enjoy all the benefits and pay none of the costs/taxes. Fuq you!

Too Cruel from Oak Park  

Posted: December 18th, 2012 10:06 AM

"Too" - that was a very mean and malicious statement. You really should be ashamed of yourself. I won't even dignify your horrible comment with any more words.


Posted: December 18th, 2012 9:19 AM

It seems like Newtown, CT was NOT a integrated community. I have not seen one minority in the news regarding the town except Pres OBama who was there to send support of the nation. Is it me, or these types of shootings only happen in mostly non minority communities.

joan haman from oak park  

Posted: December 18th, 2012 9:09 AM

There are plenty of Renter rights lawyers. Where are the Owner rights groups. We have had several occasiopns when a renter decides to terminate before the lease is up. The standard lease used by everyone does not apply to Oak Park and with a code not listed - peculiar to OP- makes the lease null and void. Chicago lawyers can find this loop-hole, but the OP Housing does not know about it. How can a landlord protect themselves?

Rick from Oak Park  

Posted: December 17th, 2012 5:31 PM

Vouchers can be terminated if a family moves, violates the lease, stops paying their portion, or if the government runs out of funds. This is from their website. If the vouchers stop, what good is a lease with someone who has no money? The sec 8 people say these things are such freak occurrences. Why don't they stay on hook for the remainder of the lease then? (if it is so rare) It's because they know it costs a lot of money to do so. (the same reason the landlords don't want it)

Violet Aura  

Posted: December 17th, 2012 3:39 PM

I mean, I occasionally shop at Mall-Wart because where else can you buy underwear in the area? Marshall Field's and Wiebolt's are long gone, after all. I see very few Whites ever shopping at Mall-Wart. Where in the name of Xenu do liberal do-gooding White women from OP buy their panties???!!!! Most likely Oak Brook. I hear people talking of going so far to shop and always wonder why that is...It's Vanilla Ville, after all. Certainly not diverse enough for the so-called liberals...

Violet Aura  

Posted: December 17th, 2012 3:37 PM

There is still segregation! I bet you that minorities make up the largest percentage of apt. dwellers in OP (and even RF, where I reside). When you live in a town where the housing stock is at a prohibitive cost, not to mention the sky-high taxes, who can live there? Not only predominantly White (and possibly Asian) folks, but also those of an middle/upper-middle/upper-income level. Yeah, along the fringes of town are the apts. But not housing. And so that's why I see so many fake liberals.

wilemenia from Oak Park  

Posted: December 17th, 2012 3:09 PM

@ Diversity Matters, Not: Oak Park is diverse. 2010 U.S. Census: White 74.8%, Black 13.6%, Latino 16.3%. Oak Park 2010 census: White 67.7%, Black 21.7%, Latino 6.8%. Check your facts. We aren't in line with our Latino population numbers - that might be something to work towards.

Diversity Matters, Not  

Posted: December 17th, 2012 8:49 AM

Diversity in OP is officially a fraud. Whites have made the Village unaffordable for minorities through confiscatory property taxes. This just plugs one of the holes in the grand plan to gentrify OP. Liberals talk diversity but do everything they can to make sure their children remain segregated. A little exposure here and there like in the OPRF cafeteria, but never in an actual classroom.

Edward Solan from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: December 17th, 2012 8:36 AM

As the Executive Director of the Oak Park Housing Authority, I'd like to correct some of the factual errors in this stream. First, in order to minimize the Federal expenditure on subsidy payments, Voucher rents are adjusted annually based on comparable rents for units with a similar location, size and amenities. If an owner disagrees, s/he may choose not to renew the apartment lease with the program participant. Second, Voucher tenants may not break a lease mid-term. Breaking a lease or other serious violations of the lease, e.g., non-payment of rent, drug or alcohol abuse, or repeated noise disturbances, are potential grounds for termination of the participant's Voucher. Eviction from a unit also calls for termination of the Voucher.

Larry Skiver from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: December 17th, 2012 1:51 AM

His business-His choice!

RM from Oak Park  

Posted: December 17th, 2012 12:45 AM

And truth be told, the reason most Oak Parkers don't have an issue with denial of Section 8 is because we live here. Its easy for someone to get bused to our town to say what someone here should or shouldn't do.

RM from Oak Park  

Posted: December 17th, 2012 12:42 AM

I've worked in social services a long time and I choose to live in Oak Park for a number of reasons. Noncompulsory acceptance of HCV is one of them. I don't begrudge anyone the right to safe housing and good schools, but I take issue with the idea of "making" a private owner take HCV and be subject to an arrangement. Truth be told PLENTY of landlords in OP don't take Section 8...they just give different reasons for rejection than saying it outright.

Rick from Oak Park  

Posted: December 16th, 2012 1:38 PM

Rents are going up 4-5% every year. What happens when a sec. 8 lease is up for renewal? Sec. 8 wont agree to the rent increase. Will owners be stuck with the same rent until the year 2050 or are they going to be able to opt out of the contracts after the initial expiration? If owners don't renew (which is their right with every tenant currently) what is the benefit to a program that makes poor people move every 12 months? There has to be a more sustainable solution besides mandating insanity.

Violet Aura  

Posted: December 16th, 2012 1:19 PM

Another question for y'all: why is that woman in the article wanting to come here from Englewood instead of going to Hyde Park or something? What is it about OP that has people coming all the way from the S. Side?

OP Resident  

Posted: December 16th, 2012 12:59 PM

The truly sad part of this is many people are stuck in a tough place - we get it. But the reality is there is a delicate balance of section 8/mixed income that can destroy areas values. Secondly, this is FOOLS GOLD. Section 8 is a trap that is rarely broken. I have three generations of family that use it and have done very poorly - kids included. - hard work, education, disipline - or crazt athletic skills are the only way out. Not trying to pick on section 8 - it is the unpleasant truth

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: December 16th, 2012 12:58 PM

Rick, great post.

Rick from Oak Park  

Posted: December 16th, 2012 10:17 AM

As a real estate broker, I would be fired if I brought a lease to an owner that allowed a tenant to move out at any time and freeze rents. I would be fired if that tenant was a millionaire let alone a Sec. 8 tenant. CHANGE THE CONTRACT HOUSING AUTHORITY! Its only an equal rights issue when you are asking for something equal. You are asking for extra rights. It's an extra rights issue.

KB from Oak Park  

Posted: December 16th, 2012 9:41 AM

Lauber isn't making an argument. He is posting a free ad to all of his potential clients. How many people on this thread used their real name and mentioned their profession? This isn't a source of income issue and it shouldn't be disguised as one. Source of income shouldn't be discriminated against. Landlords will take SSI,etc... They don't want the red tape that comes with section 8. Poorly executed programs shouldn't be a protected class. They should be fixed.They are destroying the poor.

Sec 8 Education  

Posted: December 16th, 2012 8:44 AM

@M Lauber biggest problem is sec 8 brings in all types of people in apt to live for FREE. Voucher program can be very good for all - issue is how it is inforced. Gov just wants to get people in, then hands off. There is NO training involved to teach these folks. The gov needs to require them to become more educated. Know lots about sec 8, so do not make it sound like YOU are the only one that does. What about the Education angle??

OP Resident  

Posted: December 16th, 2012 7:31 AM

Oak Park Apartments has made the right decision for all of OP. Oak Park is middle class (50k med. inc) at a tipping point - i,.e. could become lower middel class due to stratification and middle class decline. This combined with many 8 residents, could be very poor for the community. Also, section 8 is a POVERTY TRAP. As an AA with family who receive it, it rarely helps change lives - in fact, they are worse off that the rest of the family. give a man a fish and they eat for day, teach him

KB from Oak Park  

Posted: December 16th, 2012 2:17 AM

If this law is passed, what happens when section 8 voucher holders storm Oak Park? This will be the first choice for 1,000s of voucher holders. Are there any limits to how many come here? Vacancy rates will drop to 0% over night if not. Already high rents will skyrocket. People will ask, why am I paying $1500 a month to live in a housing project. They will move and be replaced by even more section 8 tenants. Is there any thought into what will happen?Oak Park is not Chicago,it's a different case

Oak Parker  

Posted: December 16th, 2012 12:52 AM

You know what we need? More affordable housing for the disabled and aging populations. THOSE are the people that really need our help right now... Why doesn't the MTO consider that? There are many other communities that need to share the responsibility of low income house, so the MTO should go demonstrate in those suburbs. Also, there is a certain point where the number of low income residents changes the community from one which can help them to one which starts to decline.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: December 15th, 2012 11:49 PM

I suspect that owner's of small business are as or more charitable than most of us. I know that any smart business does not put charity ahead of the financial goals of the company. MTO should have been picketing the county or the village to change the Section 8 rules. They make the housing rules; not businesses. Perhaps MTO want a street show and some free press more than a policy change. OP's board is drooling over the thought of adding more affordable housing when state records shows we have a high # of affordable housing already - 35%. There are about 50 communities in the Metro area that have been ordered by the court to increase their amount of affordable housing. Each of the communities has less than 10% affordable housing. So why, would OP be pushing for more affordable housing without any pressure? They want to be part of the social experiment, they want to stay in the good graces of HUD (a source of funds for the village; for instance TIGER, and they want to keep their trophy as a model "integration city". Residents are not the least bit interested in OP Village's trophies. They want value for their taxes, balanced services, and stability in housing value. We need a board that understands that. As far as the comparison of the Madison Housing Project for "singles only" and the YMCA Single Housing, there is none. The Madison Housing Project has no entertainment facilities (pool, gym, events, etc.) It is little more than a 50 room hotel. We really need to break the housing oligarchy in OP and develop a housing plan that considers the wishes of homeowners/taxpayers.

RF guy  

Posted: December 15th, 2012 8:01 PM

There is politically correct rhetoric, and there is real life. It sounds great to give everyone who's poor a place in a nice area, and then there is the reality of what follows. Not saying that everyone who's poor brings trouble, but there's a huge correlation between poverty, culture in impoverished areas and crime. Tell me I'm wrong publicly, and then think the truth in your own mind.


Posted: December 15th, 2012 6:57 PM

Mr. Lauber, you hurt your argument when you write that "people who clearly no understanding of how" Section 8 vouchers work.... How so? First, you ignore that many OP/RF residents are adults and have more than a little experience with Section 8 tenants in their lives - and that frequently it is not positive. Second, isn't 30% of next-to-nothing, well, very little? Third, re prop standards in OP/RF, are you saying that the Feds do a better job than OP/RF govt? Or is it just another layer of pain?

Violet Aura  

Posted: December 15th, 2012 6:26 PM

What is so unfair is that tenants who are low on resources themselves (yet not receiving vouchers) may not have the money to move and are subjected to gang bangers as neighbors and people allowing their children to roam the streets or worse. Where I used to live (a nearby suburb), there was a rumor that the mayor made a deal with the landlords to accept load of Sect. 8 at once. All of a sudden we had shootings much more often, not to mention people hangin' on the corner with their cell phones...

Anonymous from Oak Park  

Posted: December 15th, 2012 6:08 PM

The Dude - The guy with the 2013 sign is from the future and so is Fawn Lebowitz. (A time in which periods are no longer used in punctuation and spell check is outlawed)

Anonymous from Oak Park  

Posted: December 15th, 2012 5:58 PM

Violet - keep in mind that the more people Daniel paints as Bigots, the more money he makes. I do not envy any property owner. You can be good hearted and try to be fair in every decision. Its just a no win scenario. Guys like Daniel are out there waiting to get you. Fair housing has made great strides since the 1970's but now the direction has swung too far the other way, and its anything but fair. The government might as well take everyone's house keys and redistribute them.

Fawn lebowitz from Oak Park   

Posted: December 15th, 2012 5:58 PM

Lnadlord Mr. Potter You Made it not such a WONDERFUL LIFE From what I read this girl was seeking a better neighbor hood and opportunity for her family where her lease was refused to be renewed by the landlord and went to the MTO who needs to investigate this lanldord making it a better life Landlor is Oak Parks Mr. Potter from a Wonder Life,

The dude  

Posted: December 15th, 2012 5:46 PM

Someone should have told the guy in the video holding the "it's 2013..." sign that its actually not 2013.

Another resident  

Posted: December 15th, 2012 5:43 PM

Daniel, the level of diversity (both racial and economic) in River Forest is also shockingly lacking in comparison to Oak Park, so maybe that's something you and other rich residents of River Forest can work on, since you care so much.

Violet Aura  

Posted: December 15th, 2012 5:40 PM

@Daniel: I notice you're from RF. I take it you don't live in your lovely apt.? It's not fair for you to call people who have been on the front lines bigoted! Some of us have seen what happens to a building (or even a whole neighborhood) when this is allowed. It's not that all Section 8 people are bad but they sometimes allow other relatives to move in with them. I lived in a building and a woman moved in. A few days later her grandson moved in. Then another relative and a dog came there!

Another resident  

Posted: December 15th, 2012 5:39 PM

Daniel from River Forest, River Forest has one of the lowest amounts of housing available to section 8 voucher holders out of all the suburbs around Chicago. This is in contrast to Oak Park, which has the most by a huge margin. It might be more useful for you, the MTO and whoever else to take the inequality fight to places like River Forest, Hinsdale or some other predominetly rich suburb as there is a lot more affluence in those places that could be spread around.

Anonymous from Oak Park  

Posted: December 15th, 2012 5:10 PM

Dan - This thread seems rather educated on the issue for the most part. Not even 40% of section 8 voucher holders are employed in any way. So what personal income are you talking about that they use to pay for their apartments? Other government subsidies? The majority of the apartments are paid entirely or largely by tax payer money. In other words I don't think calling the apartments free is a "Big lie"

Anonymous from Oak Park  

Posted: December 15th, 2012 3:54 PM

Katrina Refugees, Catholic Charities, Pads? Did MTO do any homework on Oak Park Apartments before they started picketing in front? Their whole argument is based upon landlords hating the poor and here is a company that works with the poor. If this is who Section 8 has fighting for them, Martians will be a protected class before section 8 voucher holders.

Daniel Lauber from River Forest  

Posted: December 15th, 2012 3:23 PM

Holders of Section 8 voichers do NOT get free housing. It's a partial subsidy so they don't spend more than 30% of their limited income on housing. It's disappointing to see all the Big Lies some folks are posting here -- people who clearly have no understanding of the Housing Choice Voucher program and how it works -- not to mention the extreme bigotry to folks with modest incomes. My worst tenants were anything but poor. Like landlords, tenants are a mixed bag and generalizations don't fit.

Daniel Lauber from River Forest  

Posted: December 15th, 2012 3:18 PM

Aren't nearly 60 years of the real estate industry supporting discrimination in housing enough? As a fair housing attorney I can report that discrimination against households receiving government assistance like Housing Choice Vouchers is a serious problem across the nation. When a jurisdiction prohibits this type of discrimination, there have been no negative consequences. Landlords usually oppose it because they must comply with property maintenance codes if tenants use Section 8. Surprised?

Another resident   

Posted: December 15th, 2012 2:25 PM

We, in the USA, live in a culture of individualism, and that often translates into thinking about ourselves without consideration for the effects on greater society. This could translate into landlords not wanting to help the poor (not in this case IMO), but it can also be a tenent that gets given free home and goes about their lives without consideration for their neibours or Thier community. Problem is, it's a lot easier to blame institution than making individuals take responsibility.

The dude  

Posted: December 15th, 2012 2:18 PM

Not so simple, I completely agree with you on this, but in this day and age of hyper sensitivity, it wouldn't be long until someone starts throwing accusations of discrimination because they see the rules and codes of conduct as "oppressive" and "racially" unfair. The problem is people want something for free, but they don't want to be held responsible to what they've been given. This is of course a generalisation, but there are enough cases to make the generalisation.

Not so simple  

Posted: December 15th, 2012 1:38 PM

I thought the YMCA model of setting rules of behavior in exchange for affordable housing was a good one and lent a helping hand to many. Cannot current housing programs be run this way? If not, I'd really like to understand why.


Posted: December 15th, 2012 12:29 PM

@OP Transplant - agree 100%. @OP Resident - thanks for your comments, but they made me wonder if your mother's sacrifices and achievements for you could be done today? I'm observing that many employers are preferring to hire Hispanics, rather than blacks (and whites) for the type (I'm guessing) of jobs once held by your mother. If true, perhaps you could talk to your friend (Obama) about how his electoral strategy of Amnesty, etc is affecting other parts of the D base? It's also killing unions.

OP Transplant  

Posted: December 15th, 2012 10:07 AM

Black or white, rich or poor, basic human nature does not change. We tend to value that which we have earned more than that which is given away. If you bust your ass to pay for a place, you keep it nice. If it's given to you, you tend not to care. My work used to take me into Cabrini Green when it was at full occupancy. It was like Mad Max in there, post-apocolyptic...people destroying their own homes. I suspect Sec 8 housing is similar.


Posted: December 15th, 2012 8:20 AM

@Humbug!-How much "bad business" does an owner have to do to be considered decent?Should they give away all their property? A third of it? Half? What is the standard? Its easy to give away other peoples money. Oak Park Apartments and the Planek brothers are probably among the most generous Oak Parkers. This article mentions their involvement with the poor. This is one optional program which is a monumental failure and would limit their impact in worthwhile endeavors.


Posted: December 15th, 2012 7:21 AM

These are the tenants that over flow the toilet, let the door knob get so loose it falls off, let the water run all night, etc. Section 8 people are not responsible. Take take take take. Beyond the money and headache ... do you want these complainers as friends?

OP Resident  

Posted: December 15th, 2012 7:04 AM

The issue is a clash of two conflicting OPs strategies which place BOB in the middle due to the large amount of property. One OP is liberal and build SRO, Section 8 etc and the other is high property taxes, historical landmarks etc. Can both sustain themselves? I think not which mean OP will either become less willing to save scattered site housing for poor OR face increased backlash of those of us paying $20,000 a year in property taxes. Again, the poorly thought out strategy isssue

OP Resident  

Posted: December 15th, 2012 6:58 AM

@ Humbug! - Agreed this is a complex issue and that families need a place to live. However, the sense of entitlement does little to help the families end the cycle of poverty. Again, I am AA, born poor, nver met my dad until I turned 21 but my mom worked three jobs, told me to work hard in school, never accepted the thug friend (several whom died) and I have done very well. They have the right to protest but in the long run, it does little to address core issue - and break cycle of poverty.


Posted: December 15th, 2012 6:16 AM

Love reading all the Scrooge-like responses...not all Oak Parkers are like that though. No, the landlord doesn't have to...but sometimes things need to be done just because it is the right thing to do. It's called being a decent, kind human being. Even if bad for business. A smart landlord would probably rather not see his name in the paper at Christmas for making the wrong call about the poor.

Anonymous from Oak Park  

Posted: December 14th, 2012 11:50 PM

Is it just me, or is this like a food stamp recipient complaining about not being able to get caviar with their voucher? These people are getting free homes and they are still not happy. I would love a free home. I pay a lot for mine on top of helping the section 8 people pay for theirs. I don't live where I want to either. Big deal.

OP Resident  

Posted: December 14th, 2012 11:42 PM

The irony of this is not lost. Here people are complaining because people won't take a voucher for something the never earned. I am liberal (heck I know the pres), black but we have to help ourselves and teach our kids to work their ass off, expect nothing. In fact, as we say in corporate america, you got to work twice as hard to get half as far (black tax). Stop complaining somebody aint given you something you never earned, etc.

OP Resident  

Posted: December 14th, 2012 11:38 PM

Bob Planek is an excellent business person and good guy who has supported many diverse causes. He has the right not to rent to section 8 as a business person. Stop you bitc_ing and pay your own rent. People need to pay for their own rent and stop expecting the tax payers to pick it up - so tired of fellow brothers and sisters expecting a handout. WORK ETHIC and DISIPLINE are the only chance you give your child.

Oakparker from Oak Park  

Posted: December 14th, 2012 11:27 PM

I'm confused - why isn't MTO paying Sarah Perry wages to help them instead of depending on her for volunteer help. She would then have the money to move anywhere she wanted to.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: December 14th, 2012 10:56 PM

Any businessperson has to follow laws adopted by government, even when odious. They are not required to go beyond the law to satisfy the demands and dreams who want more than the law gives. That is the province of the housing oligarchy with HUD as its head and the Illinois Housing Development Authority, Cook County Housing Authority, and Oak Park Village Board and its partner agencies (Oak Park Housing Authority, Housing Center, etc.) at its foot. If MTO has a problem, it should seek the oligarchy for help, instead of making demands of private business. Oak Park Apartments, and the Planek brothers have made major contribution to the village, and have established their business and themselves as major assets to the community. It is a shame that they are under attack for following the law.

OP Guy  

Posted: December 14th, 2012 10:54 PM

I have a feeling that Oak Park has gained the reputation amongst section 8 renters as the easy place to move to for section 8 housing, so when they come to OP with the expectation of being given the opportunity and get rejected, they feel that their right to be given something is taken away. I doubt they'd feel this way about other affluent suburbs because its a lot harder to get section 8 in other rich western and northern suburbs.


Posted: December 14th, 2012 10:48 PM

Oak Park has substantially more section 8 housing compared to literally every single Chicago suburb, and there are many more suburbs that are a lot more evenly affluent with higher scoring schools compared to Oak Park. Suburbs like Hinsdale, Wilmette, Lake Forest, Wheaton etc... Why don't the MTO go to those places to talk about inequality... Oak Park gives a lot more to people in need, and there are plenty of people here already struggling. Go to the rich people in Hinsdale to complain!

OP Guy from OP  

Posted: December 14th, 2012 10:03 PM

Section 8 tenant - can terminate lease at anytime with 30 days notice. Regular Tenant - stuck with lease for entire term. Section 8 tenant - rent can be frozen and sometimes even reduced. Regular tenant - Rent reflects market, no protection from increases. Section 8 tenant - apartment is inspected and must meet high standards at expense of owner or rent can be withheld. Regular tenant - not happening. Which of these tenants really needs the equal rights group to help?

jd from chicago  

Posted: December 14th, 2012 9:14 PM

Even if you think health care and housing are universal rights(which they aren't), and that the government should somehow provide every citizen with such(even though it is bankrupting us to do so); to mandate at the expense of individual property owners is unfair, not to mention unconstitutional. Surely if Ms. Preckwinkle thinks that every living soul deserves shelter then the county should raise taxes to erect them such a place.

Anonymous from Oak Park  

Posted: December 14th, 2012 9:00 PM

Are the people in wheelchairs really angry that they can't live in a 100 year old three story walk up with 30 inch wide door frames? MTO should be ashamed of using disabled people as pawns. Owners don't like the one sided CCHA contract. If MTO wanted to fix the problem they would look to change the housing authority, not parade disabled and poor around for sympathy votes. Picket outside the housing authority, not a law abiding business trying to make money.

OP Resident #545 from Oak Park  

Posted: December 14th, 2012 7:04 PM

Mr Planek is a fine businessman & an asset to OP. Chet, you know not of what you speak. His ability to turn the bldg condo was in the lease you signed. Deal with it. MTO, let's cut the "human right" nonsense. Housing, like healthcare, is first & foremost a service that costs money. Bldg owners shouldn't be mandated to take them here. What about RF? Forest Park?Elmwook Pk?

Joanne Haman from oak park  

Posted: December 14th, 2012 6:32 PM

As the owner of a two flat, living in one of the flats, I have the right to reject any tenant. This is still America.

C Dobbin  

Posted: December 14th, 2012 6:08 PM

I lived in a nice apartment complex in Oak Park on Garfield. Never had a problem with anything. When the owner decided to turn it into a Section 8 haven, my car was broken into twice, my storage locker was broken into and items stolen (along with everyone else's), drugs were sold openly in front of the building and tons of noisy kids were everywhere. High turnover rate because of non-payment of rent. So I completely understand Oak Park Apts. reasoning. Not the type of people I would want to have

Chet from Forest Park,ill  

Posted: December 14th, 2012 5:59 PM

I rented a unit from Bil Planek years ago. I move in and six months later he turned the building into condos. I then had to find another apartment to move into. Bill Planek is a Jerk! one of the worst landlords I have ever experience...not a nice guy!!!!

Mas Takiguchi from Oak Park  

Posted: December 14th, 2012 5:55 PM

As the former President of the Board of Directors of the Residence Corporation and Chairman of the Housing Authority, I would welcome the opportunity to sit down with the representatives of the interested parties to discuss collaborative solutions.

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