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Dart, activists target unjust foreclosure evictions

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Updated: March 20, 2013 3:16PM

Luis Islas was at home with his wife earlier this month, when a crew began boarding up the basement windows and the first floor units of the building where he lives in West Rogers Park.

Islas, a father of two, suspects the boards would have darkened his own windows on the second floor, had he not confronted the workers and explained he was still living there.

“I was really scared for my entire family,” Islas, 41, explained Wednesday.

Islas is now a little less panicked after reaching out to the city and learning he’s legally entitled to 90 days notice before being evicted from his apartment, which is in foreclosure proceedings, he says.

On Wednesday, Islas was out with about two dozen community activists — and Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart — in front of ChiProperties, the Near North property management company they say illegally tried to force the Islas family from their home.

“This is outrageous conduct,” said Dart, who has made national headlines in recent years, crusading against unjust foreclosure evictions. “What you have here is a situation where people are living here, paying their rent. They’d done nothing wrong at all. The bank wants them out. They hire a company that comes in there and completely misrepresents the law.”

Dart said his office is demanding CHIProperties provide his office with every property in Cook County in which these “illegal notices” have been distributed.

Islas said his sister-in-law originally owned the building where he lives, but she had financial problems and then the bank foreclosed on the property.

In early February, Islas came home to find a note on the front door that, he says, instructed him and his family to immediately leave the unit they’d called home for three years.

If Islas didn’t leave — and take all of his stuff with him — the locks would be changed on the foreclosed property and a Cook County Sheriff’s deputy would escort him out the front door.

Islas reached out to the city for help, and soon Dart got wind of the situation.

On Wednesday, Dart urged any other renters who’ve received similar vacate notices to call his office at 773-674-7710.

“If you’re getting these notices, they’re not legal, they’re not from our offices, and please call us,” Dart said. “We’d love to find out who is doing it.”

A woman who answered the phone at ChiProperties on Wednesday said the company had no comment.

“Can you imagine — your family is in the house, and you have someone putting boards over your windows?” an incredulous Dart said. “Think about all the dangers involved with that,”

Dart said he’s doing research now to figure out what if any laws might have been broken in trying to evict the Islas family.

Meanwhile, Islas said he understands that under the law he has until mid-May to move out.

“I checked a couple of places, but they don’t accept dogs,” Islas said. “That’s the problem.”

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