Class Enemy of the Week: Mark Fishman

Class Enemy of the Week: Mark Fishman

In many parts of the city, no name brings more scowls and contempt than Mark Fishman. This mega landlord, profiteer of misery, absentee building owner, and all-around negative force presents a problem not only for his tenants, but for the city at large. He raises rents with impunity and tries to purchase politicians to do his bidding.

Mark Fishman and the company he owns, M. Fishman & Co., have become synonymous with the gentrification of Logan Square, squalid housing conditions, steep rent increases, and evictions. He is a gentrifier. There is almost an endless array of ruthless actions he and his company have taken against the people of Chicago, and especially those in Logan Square.

Just to name a few cases, Estefania Salgado a five-year tenant of a Fishman property paid $800 per month for her one-bedroom in Logan Square. M. Fishman & Co. sent her a 30-day notice that her new rent would be sharply increasing to $1,450 plus utilities.

Take another example, a property acquired by Fishman in October of 2017 at 2936 W Palmer Street. Tenants received a notice that they had until the end of November to vacate their homes. Fishman wanted them out, period. One tenant had been a resident for 18 years before being forced out.

Mark Fishman’s harmful actions spread into political life as well. He was a major donor to Amanda Yu Dieterich, who mounted an unsuccessful challenge against 35th Ward democratic-socialist Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa in the last election. Mark Fishman gave her nearly $100,000.

His latest foray into the political world is to do everything in his power to nullify, cancel, and void a 100% affordable housing development in the ward—Ramirez-Rosa’s crowning achievement.

The case of this housing project is an especially toxic example of Mark Fishman’s greed and viciousness. Since the future build site is currently a parking lot owned by the city, he would not be able to purchase or develop the land for any of his interests. This project would simply house 100 working class and poor families, exactly the population who is increasingly being pushed out of the gentrifying Logan Square neighborhood. He will not profit from blocking this proposal; he has no skin in the game. Yet, he intensely opposes and is fighting its construction. Why?

Mark Fishman has a vision for Logan Square and this vision includes only those who are affluent enough to afford the increasingly exorbitant rents of the neighborhood. Fishman seeks to create the next neighborhood of the rich. The next living space and playground for the wealthy of the city. Why does Mark Fishman oppose the construction of 100% affordable housing in this one small parking lot? Because the poor are not allowed to exist in this vision of the new Logan Square.

This project concerns a 7-story residential housing project in the heart of Logan Square directly adjacent from public transit. Mark Fishman has been at the center of a frivolous lawsuit to end the project permanently. His shady landlord group argues that this badly needed affordable housing project “serves no purpose” and will cause “irreparable harm” to people like him. We, the working class of Chicago who he is trying to kick out, should see this as a good thing.

Although this is clearly a frivolous lawsuit and a last-ditch effort to stop a sorely needed housing development, let’s take a look at the claim that Mark Fishman makes in the lawsuit. “Irreparable harm” done to his group—reactionary landlords who stand in the face of an increasingly demanding and militant working class, an independent working class which stands up and fights for its own rights. It’s true that Fishman’s clique of elite property owners faces irreparable harm, if by “harm” we mean empowering long-term residents of Logan Square against landlords’ greed. Generations of families have given the neighborhood its soul and character—a character which will not be kept alive while its people are systematically expelled due to the rising cost of living.

Mark Fishman gives us a clear portrait of the dangerous powers held by capitalists in our society: the destruction of real lives in pursuit of profit. It also gives us hope for the real power held by a united working class acting in its own material self-interest. As of the date of publication, Mark Fishman’s frivolous lawsuit against affordable housing has been thrown out of court.