CHICAGO, IL: The Rogers Park community is rallying to stop the eviction of the Dolores-Calvillo family and preserve what has become known as the neighborhood’s “community house.” On Thursday, September 18 at 9 a.m., members of several neighborhood and housing-rights organizations will hold a press conference in front of the Daley Center, where the family is scheduled to attend eviction court.
The Dolores-Calvillo family has resided in their home at 7245 N Ridge for two years. During that time, Maria Dolores-Calvillo and her brother Gerardo Calvillo, who run a neighborhood daycare, have also turned the home into a focal point of community life, hosting a community garden, Spanish and English-language film screenings, clothing donation-drives, and even health fairs where medical practitioners volunteer to provide a day of free consultations for the uninsured.
“We saw that there was a need in this neighborhood for a community center, for a space for youth and other residents to gather and share support and resources,” says Calvillo. “The importance of community was instilled in me at an early age by my mother. Basically everything that I do is to honor her and her tireless devotion to helping others.”
The family hopes to halt their eviction, which could proceed this fall, and also to gain a negotiation with CitiBank, which currently owns the home following a foreclosure. The family is seeking a novel resolution: donation of the home to a community land trust, which housing advocates say is a promising strategy for reviving neighborhoods and preserving affordable housing.
Casas del Pueblo, a 501(c)3 land trust in Albany Park, is willing to receive the title of the home and is working with the family to negotiate donation. Housing activists argue that this could be a win for the bank as well: A recent report by Casas del Pueblo found that in one-third to one-half of foreclosure cases in low-income neighborhoods, banks could have improved their bottom line by donating homes to community groups and taking tax write-offs instead of proceeding with costly foreclosures or paying to maintain vacant homes.
Kate Morgan-Olsen, a Rogers Park resident and volunteer with Communities United Against Foreclosure and Eviction, is among those who will attend court to support the family on Thursday. “We are asking for the right to maintain this house as the loving and beautiful community space that it is,” she says.
Gerardo Calvillo, resident, 979-575-6640
Antonio Gutierrez, Casas del Pueblo, 773-803-0810
Kate Morgan-Olsen, Communities United Against Foreclosure and Eviction, 773-412-9148