More MS news articles for July 2001

Eviction threat a foul affair

July 28, 2001

A 72-year-old woman is threatened with eviction from the Edgewater condo she has owned for 35 years because of complaints her incontinence due to multiple sclerosis makes the hallway stink.

Iola Gilbert and her daughter, Susan, received notice from their condominium association at 5901 N. Sheridan that unless a condition that the Gilberts say does not exist is permanently corrected within 30 days, the association will seek to force thesale of their condo.

There was an odor in Iola Gilbert's bedroom, but there were no odors elsewhere in the condo or anywhere in their fifth-floor hall when a Chicago Sun-Times reporter and photographer were there Friday afternoon.

''This just blows me away, and I thought I'd heard it all,'' said Jack Hazan, assistant director of the Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities. ''For people to be so insensitive and to bring such a private issue to the forefront is horrible.''

The lawyer for the condo association did not return calls Friday.

Iola Gilbert and her late husband, a police lieutenant, moved into the 16-story building in March 1966, while it was under construction. She was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1977, became incontinent because of it in 1983 and has been in a wheelchair since 1984.

Susan Gilbert, a 15-year police officer who lives with and cares for her mother, said a complaint added later also alleges that their dog and four cats cause odors and filth in the condo. She said that complaint arose when an alarm malfunctioned June 21 while she and her mother were on vacation and firefighters broke down a door to enter the condo. She said a fifth cat, dying of cancer, had thrown up and defecated on the carpet since the cat-sitter was there earlier in the day.

She disputed the board's statement that members inspected the condo July 16-17 and found conditions uncorrected. She said she knew no one came in because she was there, home sick with pneumonia.

She said there were complaints of an odor in the hallway in May. She said she believed they were caused by a deodorizer she had sprayed there, and she stopped using it.

She said she suspects odors sometimes noticed in the hall come from the garbage chute, which is next to her kitchen door. ''At times that smells, and sometimes it smells horrible, especially on weekends,'' she said.

Hazan said he has contacted several city agencies to evaluate the situation and provide assistance to the Gilberts.

''I think we'll be able to resolve this where everybody will be happy,'' he said.

Susan Gilbert said she hoped that would happen. ''I can't afford to fight a big condo association with all the money they have behind them,'' she said.