CHICAGO (CBS) -- More than 100 seniors living at three North Side apartment buildings subsidized by Presbyterian Homes have been left wondering where they'll go; after the charity told them it's selling the buildings, and residents will have to move.
Residents gathered in a room at Crowder Place, 3801 N. Pine Grove Av., on Friday for a meeting with Ald. James Cappleman (46th), whose ward includes Crowder Place and two other Presbyterian Homes apartment buildings – Mulvey Place, 416 W. Barry Av., and Devon Place, 1950 W. Devon Av.
"We were told that these residents could move to the suburbs," Cappleman said, prompting laughter from the seniors who live in the buildings. He noted many of them don't have cars they would need for suburban living.
Betty Holcomb was among the residents who said they were told they would have homes there for the rest of their lives when they moved in.
"It's been clean, and warm, and safe, and we know everyone knows everyone. We know the neighborhood. The people in the neighborhood know us. This is so important for seniors. There are people here who have established their lives here. They've been here for almost two decades. Imagine dispersing over 100 senior citizens to God knows where. Where are these people going to go? Where are they going to go?" she said. "This is the fabric of their lives. They need to be here."
She said residents have been "walking around in a state of shock" since learning of the plan to close the buildings.
"I would ask Presbyterian Homes, please, for all of us, to try to find some sort of solution to this problem," she said.
Holcomb said Presbyterian Homes sent a housing specialist to ease their worries.
"This is not her fault. She was like a lamb being fed to the wolves here. You know, the poor little thing, she had no idea. She literally said 'I don't know what to do," she said.
Cappleman said Presybterian Homes needs to slow down.
"We've had residents here who are put on waiting lists to be put on a waiting list to get housing; and you shouldn't have to do that if you're in your 90s. This is absurd," he said.
Rev. Barbara Bolsen, of ONE Northside, a Lakeview community group, said there are plenty of potential buyers who will pay what Presbyterian Homes wants for the buildings, and allow the seniors to stay.
"They're not interested in cooperating with our affordable buyers, for some reason. It's a mystery to us. They're a faith-based organization. They have a faith-based mission. They're supposed to be about compassion and charity; and yet they're in a huge, huge hurry to displace these residents," she said.
Presbyterian Homes, an Evanston-based non-profit that also owns senior housing communities in the suburbs, said charitable donations are no longer sufficient to cover the cost of subsidized housing and maintenance at its properties in Chicago.
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