CHICAGO (CBS) -- Tenants in some West Side apartment buildings in need of repairs have received help from activists trying to make a better quality of life, but even the activists acknowledge some landlords have little incentive to fix up their buildings.
The tenants live in buildings owned by what the city calls "problem landlords" on its new list, as it seeks to shame them into addressing unresolved building code violations.
Activists with the South Austin Coalition visited some of those landlords' buildings on Thursday.
South Austin Coalition organizer Elce Redmond spoke to tenants through the closed door of one such building on the 200 block of North Leclaire Avenue as a reporter listened in. Redmond said he wanted the tenants to know their rights and responsibilities, and suggested all tenants of buildings in need of repair should band and together in an effort deal with the issues.
He was told to come back later and left a flyer explaining what he was trying to accomplish.
South Austin Coalition executive director Bob Vondrasek said they're not just going after landlords.
"One of the people on the [Problem Landlords] list is somebody we know real well. In fact, he just helped a homeless lady get an apartment at a very low income. So we certainly aren't just on the side of the tenants, even though for a long time we had been,"
Another activist with the group, Wanda Hopkins, said it's a two-way street, and tenants have to be responsible, too.
"As the owners come in and talk to me, they're having a lot of issues around the tenants not paying their rent. The tenants are holding landlords hostage," she said.
Hopkins said some tenants won't pay rent, knowing how difficult it can be for landlords to evict them.
The activists were hoping to get the tenants, their landlords and the city together to come up with solutions.
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