Clout Preventing Repairs, Tenants Say

Cracks in the walls and ice on the windows reportedly common

By Sharon Wright
|  Friday, Jan 7, 2011  |  Updated 10:15 PM CDT
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Some residents in a 30-unit South Side building say they've faced one problem after another and can't get much done because of their landlord's city clout.

Some residents in a 30-unit South Side building say they've faced one problem after another and can't get much done because of their landlord's city clout.

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Some residents in a 33-unit South Side building say they've faced one problem after another but can't get much done because of their landlord's city clout.

Cracks in the walls and ice on the windows are common, said the tenants of the building, located in the 6100 block of South Kimbark Avenue.  For some, the bitter temperatures outside crept inside when radiators stopped working.

"We've got ice on our windows.. and we're boiling two pots of water and the oven [is on] to try to keep warm," said tenant Mary Smith

The owner of the building, The Woodlawn Corporation, is headed up by Rev. Leon Finney, a close friend and ally of Mayor Richard Daley and the Metropolitan Apostolic Community Church, at 4100 S. King Drive.

An emergency motion was filed in Cook County Circuit Court by the city on Thursday, but tenants said they fear Finney's connections are preventing timely repairs and enforcement, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

One tenant told the Sun-Times that Finney's "people were out here harassing" them dishonestly signing affidavits that some problems had been corrected. 

Finney responded to NBC Chicago's questions on Friday, releasing a statement indicating that the company has responded to and corrected a variety of complaints that have come in since early December.

He said the company will continue to be responsive to its 22 tenants, 18 of which are delinquent in rent to the tune of more than $33,000.  The building is for sale and under contract and that the buyer has plans for major property improvements.

Finney was appointed to the Chicago Planning Commission by Mayor Michael Bilandic in 1979 and reappointed by mayors Jane Byrne, Eugene Sawyer, Harold Washington and Richard M. Daley.  He did not seek reappointment after his last one expired in December.

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