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‘I’m very upset’: Senior citizen fighting tow bill despite having parking permit from management

By Lauren Victory

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    CHICAGO (WBBM) — Getting towed is never fun; from the surprise of your missing car to the shock of the bill.

A Chicago senior citizen says she went a whole decade without any parking at her building. Morning Insider Lauren Victory shows us why she’s now fighting a tow – and tears.

Shortly into our interview, Elena Elalwan got upset.

“I have chest pains,” she told us, but she wanted to continue telling her story.

She’s overwhelmed with frustration, because while she’s been juggling visits to her sister in hospice, she’s also been dealing with a $188 towing bill.

“Very bad. Very bad, because we’re very poor, and that’s my little gas or spending money. It’s just very hard. I’m very upset,” she said, getting emotional again.

Elalwan explained she thought she followed the parking rules at her low-income senior housing complex in Lincoln Park. She says a temporary parking pass was given to her by management from the Hispanic Housing Development Corporation for a loaner car she was using while her registered car was in the shop.

The temporary pass literally says “Do Not Tow!!!!!!!!” but it must have not worked. Her tow receipt says “Permit Not Valid.”

“I just keep crying. I’m very nervous,” said Elalwan.

She’s nervous about getting in trouble again. Just days after her tow, tenants were advised of a new building rule that says the seniors cannot park in employee spots at any time.

“The lots are patrolled by 24-hour towing service,” reads Carmen Betances from the notice. She’s a resident of the same building and a senior advocate.

“I don’t understand why they [employees] need two parking spots in the afternoon when they go home?” posed Betances who serves as co-chair of the Jane Addams Senior Caucus.

CBS 2 tried to ask a manager parking her car in the employee area about the senior parking change. She had no comment.

Chicago Housing Authority owns the property, and tells CBS 2 that even with the employee-only area, there is enough parking for seniors with registered vehicles.

But residents claim non-seniors park in the lot all the time, which puts a squeeze on the spots available.

CBS 2 spotted at least one car in the lot without the proper sticker.

“I’m very upset, Lauren. I’m very upset,” said a skittish Elalwan, who has been parking on the street to avoid more drama.

CHA tells us they will “monitor” the towing bill situation with Elalwan.

Management from Hispanic Housing Development Corporation refused to comment specifically on this case, citing resident privacy concerns.

Here’s the rest of the statement they sent CBS 2:

Hispanic Housing Development Corporation is a leading NFP advocate for those who need affordable housing in Chicago and the Midwest. For 46 years, HHDC has focused on building and maintaining quality affordable housing for working-class families and vulnerable individuals – senior citizens, people with disabilities, veterans and women with children. We have built 4,200 homes and preserved 1,700 affordable units. We currently manage 10,200 units. Our goal is to help provide economic stability and housing security to people who need it most.

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