Former South Side tenants to CHA chief Vincent Lane, who now lives in a hotel with rodents

Margaret Jackson has been staying at a motel in Calumet Park with her husband for five and a half weeks when she looked out the window on Christmas Eve to see two body bags being carried from the building.

She turned to her husband and said, “I’m going out of here.”

(According to Cook County’s forensic office, two men had been found shot dead at the motel.)

Jackson and her husband had ended up at the motel after the apartment building where they lived in Avalon Park was considered uninhabitable by the city.

Days before Thanksgiving, the building – owned by former CHA chief Vincent Lane – had closed to heat and water at short notice, tenants said. Lane’s son, Craig Lane, said a fire that broke out on the third floor of the building in October had left countless amounts of damage.

In a statement to the Chicago Sun-Times, the Department of Buildings confirmed that the apartment building at 1413 E. 79th St. was inspected on 23 November. Inspectors found that “the heating unit was unusable and there was no running water to the residential units. As a result, the building was ordered evacuated for health and safety reasons.”

Tenants were advised to find a long-term home and provided with a list of temporary homes to choose from, according to the statement.

Margaret Jackson speaks to reporters on Nov. 23 in front of the apartment building in Avalon Park, where she and other tenants said landlords Vincent and Craig Lane shut off heat and water with little warning.

Margaret Jackson speaks to reporters on Nov. 23 in front of the apartment building in Avalon Park, where she and other tenants said landlords Vincent and Craig Lane shut off heat and water with little warning.
Mark Capapas / Sun-Times fil

More than a month later, things have not gotten any better for some former renters.

“This is the fourth hotel for us,” Jackson said, adding that it is also the worst. “The rooms are dirty, ugly. It’s full of insects, mice, cockroaches, ants and spiders.”

She said Craig Lane has paid for their homes, as directed by John Scott, a deputy commissioner at the Department of Buildings. Jackson had been at another hotel shortly before Lane told her he could not afford it anymore.

Jackson said she has not been able to remove all of her belongings from her apartment. She said she called Craig Lane on Wednesday to complain about conditions at the motel and to ask to move to a location in Hyde Park. According to Jackson, he replied, “Your s – t is being put outside,” and then hung up.

Contacted by the Sun-Times, Craig Lane said: “We have taken care of everything. The tenants have no complaints.” Then he hung up.

Craig Lane speaks with tenants Tuesday, November 23, 2021 in front of the building at 1413 E. 79th St., owned by his father, Vincent Lane.  Residents say heat and water have been shut off in the building;  a resident keeps the message up as they said they received less than a full day before the water was shut off.

Craig Lane, son of landlord Vince Lane, appears in November meeting with tenants in front of the building at 1413 E. 79th St. Behind him, a resident holds up the message they received a day before the water was shut off.
Mark Capapas / Sun-Times fil

Workers were on site at the building Thursday, throwing objects from a burned-out window into a trash can below. One of the workers said they had been at the site for a few days.

“We are here to remove floors, walls, all the damage,” said Carlos Murillo, one of the workers who would not identify his employer. “It is burnt, but it is stable. It is safe.”

Murillo had no information on how long the renovation is expected to take.

A worker dressed in safety gear dumps clothes out of an apartment window in a trash can on Thursday, December 30, 2021. Following a fire in October, the building at 1413 E. 79th St.  considered uninhabitable by the city.

A worker dressed in safety gear throws clothes out of an apartment window in a trash can on Thursday. Following a fire in October, the building at 1413 E. 79th St. considered uninhabitable by the city.
Pat Nabong / Sun-Times

Meanwhile, according to the city, the landlord agreed to pay two tenants a $ 2,500 relocation fee, payable by the landlord, to cover the cost of their deposit and first-month rent when they found a new place to live.

Jackson was one of them, but she’s still looking for a new place. She said she and her husband cannot move until their Section 8 voucher comes through.

For others, like Clifford Sullivan, it’s unclear if he will get a check at all.

Sullivan and his wife moved to the Greater Grand Crossing in November after Lane shut off the heat and water. They had lived in the Avalon Park apartment for 10 years.

Unlike Jackson, they were not present for Scott’s inspection – although some of their belongings had not yet been moved.

Asked John Scott [Craig Lane] for the $ 2,500 fee for us, ”Sullivan said. “He refused to pay it.”

Sullivan was told that only one judge could enforce payment of the fee. Now he and his wife are waiting for a trial date to be set.

He said they have had no contact with Vincent Lane.

“I’m pretty sorry the way everything went,” Sullivan said. “But I am hopeful and praying and waiting for the trial date so we can resolve these other issues.”

Starring: Matthew Hendrickson

Cheyanne M. Daniels is an employee reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times via Report for America, a non-profit journalism program that aims to strengthen the newspaper’s coverage of communities on the south and west sides.

On a sign by the now vacant Avalon Park apartment building at 1413 E. 79th St.  it says:

On a sign by the now vacant Avalon Park apartment building at 1413 E. 79th St. it reads: “Warning of ongoing investigation of the fire site.”
Pat Nabong / Sun-Times

Follow us on Google News

Disclaimers for mcutimes.com

All the information on this website – https://mcutimes.com – is published in good faith and for general information purposes only. mcutimes.com does not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability, and accuracy of this information. Any action you take upon the information you find on this website (mcutimes.com), is strictly at your own risk. mcutimes.com will not be liable for any losses and/or damages in connection with the use of our website.

Give a Comment