WBEZ | Leon Finney http://www.wbez.org/tags/leon-finney Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Senior public housing residents protest terrible living conditions http://www.wbez.org/news/senior-public-housing-residents-protest-terrible-living-conditions-108326 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/CHA protest 130807 AY.JPG" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">Residents in senior public housing on Chicago&rsquo;s South Side say they are living with mice, bedbugs, cockroaches and other problems.</p><p>Seniors and activists from the North Kenwood community protested against poor management outside the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) headquarters today.</p><p>Resident Alphonso Jones says they&rsquo;ve<a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/senior-citizens-blast-prominent-community-leader-slumlord-105612"> complained before</a>, but managers aren&rsquo;t doing enough to solve the problems.</p><p>&ldquo;They plugged all the holes, and they put down some sticky pads. Alright, everyone knows that mice are too smart for sticky pads,&rdquo; Jones said.</p><p>Jones also described paint peeling off walls, mold, bedbugs and apartments where he can see the outdoors through holes in the wall. He says some senior residents are disabled and cannot clean their own apartments. The protesters brought placards with pictures, some of which were taken by Jones. He says he wrote over 40 letters to CHA and management, but the only response he got was that if he wrote one more letter, he would be evicted.</p><p>Resident Frances Banks says managers only did cosmetic changes without addressing underlying problems.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s like if you have cancer on your face: you put on some makeup, it covers the cancer up, but you still have cancer,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>She eventually moved out, but she says she will continue fighting for public housing tenants.</p><p>&ldquo;I could not stand the roaches, the bedbugs, the mice and the intimidation,&rdquo; Banks said.</p><p>Although the protesters described individual apartments, these problems are widespread, says Princella Lee, a member of the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization.</p><p>In particular, they named Judge Slater Apartments, the Judge Slater Annex and Vivian Harsh Apartments, making up 570 units of public housing in the North Kenwood community. The units are managed by the Woodlawn Community Development Corporation (WCDC), a project of Reverend Leon Finney. At <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/senior-citizens-blast-prominent-community-leader-slumlord-105612">a previous protest this February</a>, residents called Finney a slumlord.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s easy to dismiss this to one tenant but these conditions are prevalent in many of the units on the South Side of Chicago, particularly in WCDC managed buildings,&rdquo; Princella Lee said. &ldquo;Let&rsquo;s not act like we don&rsquo;t know the history that WCDC and Leon Finney has had in the City of Chicago.&rdquo;</p><p>Finney is a <a href="http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/housing-d%C3%A3%C2%A9j%C3%A3%C2%A0-vu-woodlawn-residents">politically connected pastor</a> who used to serve on the city&rsquo;s planning commission. The protesters said Finney should step down, and that WCDC should not be allowed to manage public housing. They also ask for public housing officials to walk through the buildings with them, and they plan to take the issue to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.</p><p>In response to the pictures of bed bugs, Chicago Housing Authority spokeswoman Wendy Parks said the agency carries out monthly pest control meetings. She also says Charles Woodyard, the agency&rsquo;s CEO, will meet with residents this month. Parks says the CHA will be requesting proposals from property management firms interested in managing the public housing complexes, but notes this does not mean they are replacing Finney and the WCDC.</p><p>She also points out officials are improving Judge Slater Apartments, where Alphonso Jones lives, in an ongoing construction project. The $13.5-million project would install new plumbing, flooring, lights and paint. The first phase should be complete early next year.</p><p><span id="docs-internal-guid-6fefc2b9-5aba-cd02-667f-d737ab9aac4f"><span style="font-size: 16px; font-family: Arial; font-style: italic; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Alan Yu is a WBEZ metro desk intern. Follow him </span><a href="https://twitter.com/Alan_Yu039" style="text-decoration:none;"><span style="font-size: 16px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(17, 85, 204); font-style: italic; text-decoration: underline; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">@Alan_Yu039</span></a><span style="font-size: 16px; font-family: Arial; font-style: italic; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">.</span></span></p></p> Wed, 07 Aug 2013 16:36:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/senior-public-housing-residents-protest-terrible-living-conditions-108326 Senior citizens blast prominent community leader as a 'slumlord' http://www.wbez.org/news/senior-citizens-blast-prominent-community-leader-slumlord-105612 <p><p>A group of senior citizens held a protest Tuesday over what they call &ldquo;deplorable conditions&rdquo; in public housing in the Kenwood-Oakland neighborhood. The four senior homes in question are managed by the Woodlawn Community Development Corporation (WCDC), a project of Reverend Leon Finney.</p><p>Finney rose to prominence fighting slumlords in the 1960s and 1970s, but has since become the subject of <a href="http://www.chicagoreporter.com/news/2012/01/following-finney" target="_blank">scrutiny</a>, a lawsuit, and <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-01-06/news/ct-met-finney-woodlawn-20120106_1_property-management-federal-lawsuit-chief-financial-officer" target="_blank">a federal probe</a> related to allegations of mismanaging funds provided to WCDC and The Woodlawn Organization. Finney began working in property management in the 1970s. WCDC manages 4,000 private and public units that house 10,000 people in the Chicago area.<iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F79973994&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>On Monday, the <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/18319201-761/residents-of-cha-senior-building-we-feel-as-if-we-are-prisoners.html" target="_blank">Sun-Times reported</a> on a visit to the Judge Slater Senior Housing Complex at 42nd and Cottage Grove in Chicago. Columnist Mary Mitchell described evidence of vermin and roaches, and related residents&rsquo; accusations of abuse and neglect on the part of management.</p><p>&ldquo;How can he be against slumlords if he&rsquo;s a slumlord?&rdquo; said Aryah Benyahuda, who lives in Judge Slater. &ldquo;What has up there is a facade, it&rsquo;s camouflage.&rdquo;</p><p>Benyahuda joined four other public housing residents and about 20 people from the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization (KOCO) in front of the CHA&rsquo;s downtown offices. KOCO helped the seniors organize a demonstration after a group of residents came to them for help. Residents said they believed others had been intimidated by WCDC not to speak out.</p><p>Inside, at the CHA board meeting, other residents of WCDC buildings did speak out &ndash; against protestors.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS7038_019-scr.JPG" style="float: right; height: 210px; width: 320px;" title="Aryah Benyahuda headed home from the protest. (WBEZ/Lewis Wallace)" /></p><p>&ldquo;When we need something, they are there,&rdquo; said Shirley Jean Lee, a resident of another WCDC-managed building.</p><p>Two senior homes residents who spoke out in favor of WCDC at the meeting hung up when contacted for this story. Others said their buildings do have bed bugs, roaches and mice. But they didn&rsquo;t blame the managers.</p><p>&ldquo;You know why that&rsquo;s a problem,&rdquo; said John Williams, also a resident of Judge Slater. &ldquo;Because people won&rsquo;t clean up.&rdquo;</p><p>Williams accused the protestors of intentionally causing trouble.</p><p>A spokesperson for the CHA says they have addressed bed bugs in the senior homes, and had not heard about problems with mice or roaches.</p><p>&ldquo;We regularly have meetings with our residents to address any concerns,&rdquo; said Wendy Parks, a spokesperson for CHA. &ldquo;We have had our CHA staff out at Judge Slater on a continuing basis.&rdquo;</p><p>The protesting residents have received a response from Finney&rsquo;s real estate manager, Sandra Harris, agreeing to meet with them. But Shannon Bennett of KOCO said seniors aren&rsquo;t satisfied.</p><p>&ldquo;We asked to meet with Finney in our letter,&rdquo; Bennett said. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s not what they&rsquo;re offering.&rdquo;</p><p>Finney is a high-profile target for a campaign &ndash; but his connections also make him a likely one. He&rsquo;s been on the board of the Chicago Planning Commission, served as Vice Chair of the Chicago Housing Authority, and served as a trustee at Chicago State University. He&rsquo;s a pastor and a professor, and his real estate investments through WCDC number in the hundreds of millions of dollars. It&rsquo;s also <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/news/3194247-418/court-tenants-heat-finney-building.html" target="_blank">not the first time he&rsquo;s been called a slumlord</a>. But KOCO says their actions are not about targeting Finney.</p><p>&ldquo;It could be the man on the moon who&rsquo;s managing their property,&rdquo; Bennett said. &ldquo;Seniors who are already marginalized do not deserve to be intimidated for speaking up.&rdquo;</p><p>Follow <a href="https://twitter.com/LewisPants" target="_blank">Lewis Wallace on Twitter.</a></p></p> Tue, 19 Feb 2013 16:24:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/senior-citizens-blast-prominent-community-leader-slumlord-105612 Chicago foreclosure crisis prompts summit http://www.wbez.org/story/chicago-foreclosure-crisis-prompts-summit-89792 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-July/2011-07-28/RS342_AP070829057762-foreclosure David Zalubowski-scr.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>In Cook County the number of outstanding foreclosure cases stands at 70,000, a figure that prompted an emergency summit Thursday by longtime Chicago community organizer Leon Finney. The meeting attracted the likes of Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Illinois Supreme Court Justice Mary Jane Theis and state Rep. Karen Yarbrough, D-Maywood.</p><p>Finney said it was necessary to hear directly from various officials because, despite declarations that the recession is over, solutions to the housing crisis still require a clear assessment.</p><p>“We didn’t know what happened with the housing bubble and why it burst," Finney said. "My sense is we were traumatized, looking for what happened and it was almost like a bomb had been dropped on us and didn’t know where it came from and what inspired it.”</p><p>In the next few months, a working group that sprang from the summit will suggest local solutions to the foreclosure plague. Finney said the group will consider various tactics, including improved home-ownership counseling, tighter bank regulations and stronger courts.</p><p>The summit took place midday at the Metropolitan Apostolic Community Church. At about the same time, Chicago alderman passed a separate action that aims to alleviate the impact of foreclosures within the city.</p><p>The new ordinance will hold banks responsible for the maintenance of foreclosed properties. Last year, the city spent more than $15 million to demolish or upkeep vacant buildings.</p></p> Fri, 29 Jul 2011 10:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/chicago-foreclosure-crisis-prompts-summit-89792