The Organization of the North East expects a thousand members to attend its annual convention Monday night – and after the rally they’ll head over to a local apartment building for a vigil protesting slumlord neglect.
ONE’s annual convention takes place Monday, June 7 at 7 p.m. at St. Augustine College, 1333 W. Argyle; the vigil will be outside the Lawrence Apartments located at 1020 W. Lawrence.
At the convention, ONE will celebrate a series of victories over the past year – including funding for affordable housing, commitments for local jobs, and organizing wins at local schools – and they’ll launch a voter registration and mobilization drive in response to the “vicious ineptitude” of state lawmakers, said organizer Cory Muldoon.
At Lawrence Apartments they’ll support a tenants association that has been working with ONE over the past year to raise concerns about building code violations and security issues. The affordable rental building has over 300 units, and tenants include people with disabilities and others on fixed incomes.
According to Muldoon, landlords Don and Sam Menetti have refused to meet with tenants or with community and religious groups. He said court records show the owners are currently responding to complaints over numerous violations including fire code issues.
In a tense confrontation last month, ONE and other community groups picketed the Wicker Park Tavern, owned by the Menettis, and tried to give them a letter asking for a meeting with the tenants association and its allies. Sam Menetti “crumpled it up and threw it at me,” Muldoon said. He added that Menetti yelled a threat at him.
In a Medill report on the event, ONE executive director Jamiko Rose said she “definitely fear(s) for my staff’s safety,” and the Menetti’s did not respond to requests for comment.
ONE members have held scores of house and block meetings – dubbed “CommuniTea Parties” – leading up to the annual convention, discussing problems in the community and ideas for addressing them under a framework of “community values in action.”