Chicago Tribune

Special Investigator Tells Legislators of the Conditions in Chicago.
Enormous Profits Made by Renting Houses in City for Immoral Purposes.


Springfield, Ill., May 10 — [Special.] — Figures respecting "business interests behind Chicago vice were exhibited tonight to the house committee on license by George J. Kneeland of New York, special investigator for the Chicago vice commission. He spoke in behalf of senate bill 320, in the house, which as the backing of the vice commission, and strikes at the renting of property for immoral purposes.

Mr. Kneeland had difficulty in getting a hearing because of an indisposition of a quorum to remain on the job. The outlook is for a hard fight to get consideration of this bill.

"There are 1,020 places in Chicago know to the police and the vice commission where disreputable women ply their trade," said Mr. Kneeland. :"In connection with these places there are known to be 4,194 inmates, all engaged in creating large values on the property for the benefit of owners and real estate agents.

"During the last three years only thirty-six attempts have been made to prosecute owners or lessees of property used for immoral purposes. All the cases were dismissed. The law affecting such violators is a dead letter.

Enormous Profit for Owners.

"Property used for immoral purposes brings an exorbitant rate of interest on capital invested. A number of these properties are practically worthless for legitimate purposes. They are low frame structures in a state of decay. One was described as being unfit for a doghouse.

"A business man endeavored to buy a lot on which one of these houses was erected. The lot has a 90 foot frontage and he offered the owner $400 per front foot. This owner said he was receiving an income on a value of $700 per front foot, and he would not sell for even that amount.

"Another business man tried to buy another lot of $350 per front foot, the legitimate price. The owner wanted $450 per front foot. Still another business man offered $500 per front foot for a lot, which was its appraised value by an expert. The owner demanded $950 per front foot.

"The taxes on these properties are practically nothing in comparison to the artificial values created by vice conditions. the assessments are on a legitimate basis.

Injury to Other Property

"While these properties are increasing in value on account of their illegal business, without a cent of expense on the part of the owner for improvements, the property of respectable citizens in the neighborhood is decreasing or at a standstill.

"The same ration of profit exists in renting house for immoral purposes. Houses in the restricted districts if rented to respectable families would $30, $75, $100, and $150 per month; they now rent for $100, $150, $250 and $500 a month. One of the proprietresses has a ten year lease on a house at $8,000 a year. This house would not ret for more than $2,500 a year for legitimate purposes.

"Forty-four real estate agents in Chicago out of sixty-for who were visited offered to rent houses and flats for immoral purposes at rentals above the legitimate rate. Most of these flats are in the residential section of the city."


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