The Chicago Coalition for the Homeless may have a new client.
Rahm Emanuel, unable to bully or buy the tenant at his Ravenswood house into moving out, will have no place to live in Chicago if he runs for mayor. Emanuel rented out the house after he became White House chief of staff, and re-upped the lease on Sept. 1 -- a week before Mayor Daley announced he wouldn’t be running again.
Frankly, this presents a political opportunity for Emanuel. Ravenswood, an enclave of yoga studios, dog grooming parlors, and wood-fired pizzerias is a nice neighborhood. But maybe it’s too nice for a guy whose biggest political liability is his elitist image.
Maybe Emanuel should take a page from Mayor Jane Byrne, and move into a housing project. In 1981, after seeing a 16-year-old rape victim in a police cruiser, Byrne decided to move into Cabrini-Green "for as long as it takes to clean it up."
That turned out to be three weeks. The publicity stunt didn’t help her standing with the black community, which voted unanimously for Harold Washington in the next election.
Emanuel might not want to move to Cabrini-Green, though. Nowadays, the neighborhood around the project looks a lot like Ravenswood, as the CHA razes towers to make way for gentrification.
He might try Altgeld Gardens, on the Deep South Side. That’s where President Obama got his start as a community organizer. Anything Emanuel can do to reinforce his association with Obama will help him in the black community.
He should probably stay more than three weeks, though. And he should definitely bring his car from Washington, D.C., as it takes two hours to get downtown on the bus.
Emanuel can also move back to Uptown, where he spent the first decade of his life. He may be able to find a room at the Wilson Hotel, an SRO across the street from Truman College.
It’s not what he’s used to -- the 8-by-10 cubicles don't have ceilings -- but it’ll show him how the other 10 percent lives.
There is a Borders and a Starbucks nearby, if he needs a coffee shop to hold staff meetings. They say you have to meet certain income requirements to live at the Wilson Hotel, but Emanuel has the clout to get around that.
Those are just two suggestions. The important thing is that Emanuel doesn’t spend his mayoral campaign living at the Sheraton or the W Hotel, as though he’s just in Chicago for an extended visit.