There are calls for an investigation and legislation after three women were found dead in a senior living facility.
The women were found Saturday at the James Sneider Apartments in Rogers Park shortly after multiple heat complaints from residents as Chicago temperatures hovered around 90 degrees last week.
Alderwoman Maria Hadden of the 49th Ward who represents Rogers Park and parts of West Ridge said she had started receiving phone calls last Thursday from residents in the building expressing heat concerns.
“I went over to the building myself on Thursday and when I entered the building it was very hot,” Hadden said. “I had an opportunity to speak with management, with residents. They let me know that they were still running the heat and were going to turn it off. They were instructing residents to use fans.”
Management told Hadden they had not yet turned off heat in the building due to the city ordinance. After another call with management, Hadden suggested they bring in mobile air conditioning units, which were put into place by Friday morning.
The city’s heat ordinance requires landlords to keep temperatures to at least 68 degrees during the day and 66 degrees at night between Sept. 15 and June 1.
“This isn’t the first management company that we’ve had conversation with over the couple of years that I’ve been in office. We get calls from residents saying it’s hot, why won’t they turn on the A.C.? or vice versa when it’s cold,” Hadden said. “As we’re working with the departments and the administration, that’s what we’ll consider. The ordinance has worked for a long time but with climate change and it getting hot earlier, maybe there are some revisions that need to be made so there are no misinterpretations of what buildings can do in order to protect the life and health of their residents.”
The Hispanic Housing Development Corporation, the landlord of the building, declined to participate in this conversation but sent a statement, saying, “We are deeply saddened by the deaths of three women who made our James Sneider Apartments their home … Hispanic Housing Development Corporation has long been devoted to providing affordable homes and services that allow seniors to remain independent. The safety and security of all our residents have always been our highest priority. We are working with the City of Chicago and conducting our own investigation into last week’s circumstances.”
Hadden is also looking for answers.
“I hope they investigate on their side,” Hadden said. “The resolution I entered yesterday calls for an investigation, not in the criminal sense at all, but into trying to figure out what happened. I want our buildings department to talk to the decision makers to figure out what we need to figure out on the city side to help them make better decisions. It was clearly a bad decision that led to the tragic, unnecessary deaths of the three women in our community.”