Why I’m Fighting to Legalize Rent Control in Illinois

Kelly – Belvidere, Illinois

I work as a home healthcare aid for the elderly, I go into homes and lend a hand for things clients can’t do anymore. Simple tasks, like rides to the grocery store. Working with the elderly, I see the impact of poverty and the rising lot rents in my manufactured home community. That’s why I’ve gotten involved with other community members that are advocating for rent control. Between me and my husband we’re struggling to afford medications, feed our kids and pay our rent, and we both work. So I can only imagine what it’s like for these seniors, when you’re on a fixed income how can you do it?

I had a client who used to be my neighbor, she was often deciding between her medication or if she was going to eat. Her medications were always messed up because she couldn’t afford them and all she would have to eat were cans of tuna, or other food like what you would take camping, not what you would eat on a daily basis. She was living only on social security, and each year our lot rent was going up $25/month, so she was paying six or seven hundred dollars in lot rent. She recently lost her house and was forced to move in with her daughter, a situation she didn’t want to be in, but she didn’t have a choice.

That’s just one instance, there are many people like her, people with health issues, who can’t afford food, but for whatever reason don’t qualify for help.  The rent increases we are hit with every year are hurting our community, really hurting the elderly and other people who just already aren’t making it. Many people are trying to sell their houses, they don’t have other options.

The new owner, who bought our community two years ago is buying up all the manufactured home communities in the area, so even if you wanted to move somewhere else you’d be in the same situation. All they are doing is raising rent, they aren’t putting any investment into the community. For example, we have a pool that they use to market the community, but it’s been down all summer. When you spend over $100,000 on your house and are still paying $600-700/month in lot rent, that’s a lot of money, especially when nothing in the community is being improved. It’s also frustrating that management hasn’t communicated with the residents at all. They didn’t even hold a community meeting to let us know what was going on when they took over. All they do is raise the rent, no explanation, no information.

I worry a lot for the seniors in my community. Many of them are all alone, it’s hard for me to see them struggling. When you go into someone’s home and see they don’t have any food, or aren’t taking their insulin because they just paid they’re rent, it’s upsetting. It’s stressful to see these people who have worked all their lives, and everything they’ve worked for they have to get rid of to pay for food, medication and rent. I hope others will join me in working for legislation that will protect our seniors from rent increases, and bring fairness for all of us.