28% of renters in Chicago pay more than half of their income on rent
CHICAGO – Since August, Ashanti Taylor has been sleeping on her mother’s couch on the Southside of Chicago while her three children are left to sleep on the hard wood floor.
Taylor, 23, was out of options after the city of Chicago informed her that the apartment she had been living in for two years was an illegal rental and was being deemed uninhabitable. She was told to move immediately for the safety of her children.
“That was news to me, that it was illegal. I had been living there for two years,” she said. “I called the landlord and he just said it wasn’t true. All he was worried about was getting the rent.”
Prior to the forced eviction, Ashanti had experienced a string of setbacks. In November 2015, she was laid off from her job with a medical transportation company. Pregnant and without work, she was forced to sell many of her belongings – including her car, furniture, and jewelry – to pay bills. As her pregnancy progressed, she made the decision to leave the abusive relationship with the father of her unborn child. Her son, Catrell Elijah, was born June 19. Four days later, she was forced out of her apartment.
Ashanti is at a loss for how to explain that her and her family are homeless. It is especially difficult to explain to her six and three-year-old.
Ashanti is now working in a part-time, seasonal position for the U.S. Postal Service until March and is hopeful for full-time employment.
Last week, Ashanti was invited to tell her story on The Steve Harvey Show. To her surprise, she found out that Pangea Real Estate and Make Room came together to present her with a fully furnished apartment, plus rent and utilities paid for a year.
Over 11 million households are experiencing the constant worry of losing the roof over their head due to the high cost of rent. Make Room is glad to help Ashanti and her family with this one-time gift, but more fundamental solutions are needed.
We have to change the system. We need a bold vision to address the severe shortage of homes that people can afford. And we need our political leadership to understand that housing is the foundation of America’s infrastructure, and central to its prosperity. Make Room’s mission is to make sure that solving the nation’s rental housing crisis is a priority for our leaders.
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