WBEZ | Housing http://www.wbez.org/tags/housing Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Rents may be going up, but residents say they're not going anywhere http://www.wbez.org/news/rents-may-be-going-residents-say-theyre-not-going-anywhere-111269 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Land-trust-2.png" style="height: 240px; width: 320px; margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px; float: left;" title="(from right) Arturo Chavez and his roommate, Jorge Herrera, share an apartment for $700 a month in Albany Park. A new building owner is evicting them to convert the units into upscale rentals." />There&rsquo;s a fight brewing in Albany Park over who gets to live there.</p><p>Arturo Chavez would like to stay in the North Side neighborhood, where he&rsquo;s lived for roughly three years &mdash; but that seems increasingly unlikely.</p><p>&ldquo;I go around in a car, looking for places,&rdquo; he says, speaking in Spanish. &ldquo;I see ads, and I call the numbers. Some places were being remodeled. I was told they were going to rent it, but later they told me they had already leased it to family members.&rdquo;</p><p>Chavez is one of the few remaining tenants of 3001 W Lawrence Avenue, a courtyard apartment building with 32 units. In August, new owners bought the building and notified its tenants that they were all to be evicted. The plan is to gut rehab the units and turn them into upscale rentals.</p><p>Inside, ceiling pipes have started to leak and parts of the walls are falling off. Chavez, a car mechanic who has been fighting for workers compensation since he was injured last year on the job, knows he&rsquo;ll have to leave soon. But he says he hasn&rsquo;t been able to find another place nearby that comes close to the $700 monthly rent he pays now.</p><p>&ldquo;The rents are too high and that means people are being separated and they&rsquo;re moving to areas farther away,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Antonio Gutierrez, an organizer with the community group Centro Autonomo in Albany Park, says scores of low-income Albany Park residents have been pushed out in recent years. Just like Chavez, they&rsquo;ve been unable to keep up with the rising rents and property values in some areas.</p><p>&ldquo;I would say about 40 percent of them, they ended up having to leave Albany Park and having to move outside the city to suburbs,&rdquo; said Gutierrez.</p><p>Between 2011 and 2013, the median home price in Albany Park rose almost 40 percent. Gutierrez says after the recession, speculators flocked back to the neighborhood, buying foreclosed homes and driving up property values.</p><p>So last year, Centro Autonomo decided to try a creative idea to bolster affordable properties in the neighborhood: it created a &ldquo;community land trust&rdquo; called Casas del Pueblo. The land trust is a non-profit entity that will acquire properties in the neighborhood, then rent them out.</p><p>&ldquo;(The rent) would just be the taxes for the property, the insurance for the property and a maintenance fee,&rdquo; Gutierrez explained. &ldquo;And they can stay there for as long as they want.&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Albany-Park-Median-Home-Sales-Price-Median-Sales-Price_chartbuilder.png" style="height: 349px; width: 620px;" title="" /></div><p>The concept of community land trusts is not new to the Chicago area. Gutierrez&rsquo;s variety is a slight twist on something that&rsquo;s been tried before, just a few miles south, in West Humboldt Park.</p><p>There, three, red brick single family homes sit on a residential street next to the noisy Union Pacific rail line.</p><p>&ldquo;The homeowners say the walls were built in a way it&rsquo;s not really bothersome,&rdquo; said William Howard, former Executive Director of the West Humboldt Park Development Council.</p><p>Under Howard, the Council created the First Community Land Trust of Chicago, also a non-profit, in 2003. He said residents at that time were worried their neighborhood might become unaffordable. With the alderman&rsquo;s support, the land trust bought city property for $1 and built the 3-bedroom homes.</p><p>&ldquo;Were it not for these spots, the gentrification would have just swamped everybody,&rdquo; said Howard. &ldquo;A lot of people would have moved out.&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Land-trust.png" title="William Howard led the establishment of the first community land trust in Chicago in 2003. It built three, single-family homes that remain affordable, though the recession halted its expansion. (WBEZ/Odette Yousef)" /></div><p>Howard&rsquo;s land trust follows a more conventional model than the one in Albany Park.</p><p>Instead of renting the homes, it offered them for sale.</p><p>&ldquo;The land trust owns this land in perpetuity,&rdquo; he explained. &ldquo;And then we get the homeowners, and the homeowners own the house.&rdquo;</p><p>Howard said three things keep land trust homes affordable. First, homeowners don&rsquo;t buy the land; they only buy the house itself. That means the house sells for much less than its market value.</p><p>Second, homeowners have to agree to resale restrictions.</p><p>&ldquo;Even if the homeowners decides later on they want to sell the home, they must sell it to someone of a like economic profile,&rdquo; said Howard. &ldquo;Otherwise the land trust goes bust.&rdquo;</p><p>In other words, homeowners have to sell the home to someone that qualifies as low-income. That keeps the resale price of the house low.</p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="320" scrolling="no" src="http://interactive.wbez.org/gentrification/widget/14/" style="float: right; clear: right;" width="400"></iframe></p><p>Finally, homeowners only pay property taxes on the value of the house, not including the land.</p><p>Howard originally wanted to build ten homes, but the timing didn&rsquo;t work out.</p><p>&ldquo;We only got three up,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t think anyone at that point had any idea that the recession would last as long as it did or be as deep as it was.&rdquo;</p><p>During the recession concerns about gentrification in West Humboldt Park fizzled out.</p><p>The First Community Land Trust of Chicago still exists, but only to collect the nominal monthly ground lease from the three homeowners in those homes. Property values in the neighborhood dropped so much after the housing bubble burst that it doesn&rsquo;t make sense for the land trust to build additional homes.</p><p>But there is another Chicago-area land trust that&rsquo;s flourishing. It&rsquo;s north of the city, in Highland Park. Luisa Espinosa-Lara and her family once struggled just to rent in this wealthy suburb.</p><p>&ldquo;We thought OK, one day (when) we are able to buy a house, it&rsquo;s not going to be here,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;Houses here are so expensive.&rdquo;</p><p>But thanks to Community Partners for Affordable Housing, Illinois&rsquo;s oldest and largest community land trust, Espinosa-Lara and her husband were able to buy a three-bedroom house in Highland Park. They paid $175,000 for it, roughly half of its market value.</p><p>&ldquo;It was like when you feel that you win the lottery, but like you get millions,&rdquo; she said, &ldquo;because you don&rsquo;t have to go. And I think it&rsquo;s so painful when you have to leave.&rdquo;</p><p>In Highland Park, the community land trust isn&rsquo;t really about gentrification. Instead, it&rsquo;s about creating inclusive, mixed-income neighborhoods.</p><p>That&rsquo;s what Antonio Gutierrez hopes to do back in Chicago&rsquo;s Albany Park neighborhood. But he&rsquo;s taking on a big challenge. Community land trusts typically need hundreds of thousands of dollars in startup costs, to buy, renovate or build homes. Most of them rely on a mix of public grants and private donations.</p><p>Casas del Pueblo doesn&rsquo;t have that kind of money, so Gutierrez hopes to persuade banks to donate foreclosed homes to the community land trust. So far, this strategy has yet to bear fruit.</p><p>&ldquo;Every single time I get to a meeting with a bank, the first thing they ask is how many houses do you have now? How many houses are you managing? And when we say zero, they close the door,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Still, Gutierrez remains undeterred.</p><p>He believes once they have a couple of homes, others will look to his community land trust as a model for how gentrification can benefit even those it would normally displace.</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her </em><a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef"><em>@oyousef</em></a><em> and </em><a href="https://twitter.com/wbezoutloud"><em>@WBEZoutloud</em></a><em>.</em></p></p> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 08:15:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/rents-may-be-going-residents-say-theyre-not-going-anywhere-111269 In 'up-and-coming' area, what's the tipping point for gentrification? http://www.wbez.org/news/and-coming-area-whats-tipping-point-gentrification-111236 <p><p>On a recent weekday, Reid Mackin of the Belmont Central Chamber of Commerce shows off one of the main commercial strips in the Belmont Cragin neighborhood on the Northwest Side.</p><p>There&rsquo;s a Cricket wireless store on the corner, A&amp;G Fresh Market down the street and a Polish restaurant that nods to the area&rsquo;s past.</p><p>&ldquo;We used to have a lot of franchise foods, but because of the independent restaurants, the franchise food places couldn&rsquo;t compete with those folks,&rdquo; Mackin said.</p><p>But these aren&rsquo;t the restaurants you&rsquo;d find in a destination neighborhood like Logan Square. Over the years, that neighborhood has obviously gentrified. The rent&rsquo;s gone up and the white population has increased. The median home price for 2013 was $360,000, above its previous peak.</p><p>Belmont Cragin isn&rsquo;t experiencing anything like Logan Square&rsquo;s turbo-charged economy. But as it comes back from the housing crisis, some wonder: is this healthy redevelopment or the beginnings of gentrification?</p><p>&ldquo;I can&rsquo;t tell you how many clients that have started in Logan Square or they&rsquo;ve started in Humboldt Park and they end up looking in Belmont Cragin,&rdquo; said <a href="https://www.redfin.com/real-estate-agents/clayton-jirak">Clayton Jirak, Redfin realtor</a>.</p><p>Jirak says new buyers are attracted to the neighborhood&rsquo;s bungalow belt. They like the solid housing stock and prices ranging from around $150,000 to $300,000.</p><p>&ldquo;The other big factor in Belmont Cragin has been the redevelopment and the renovation that&rsquo;s been going on with a lot of distressed properties that were left over from the real estate recession,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Belmont Cragin hasn&rsquo;t fully recovered, but in 2013 its median home price was up nearly 24 percent from its lowest point after the housing crash. At the high end of the market, a newly flipped home was recently listed at $435,000.</p><p>Those types of sales worry Julio Rodriguez. He&rsquo;s the director of financial education for the Northwest Side Housing Center.</p><p>He says some longtime residents are getting priced out because of those investors.</p><p>&ldquo;Our goal is to have it community owned and have community residents involved. But it&rsquo;s kind of hard to accomplish that when we have so many developers coming in buying, flipping it and renting out for a couple of years and selling it once home prices go up,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>The organization&rsquo;s executive director James Rudyk points to Logan Square where a small number of investors own a lot of property.</p><p>&ldquo;What may have started off as a good idea &mdash; let&rsquo;s get some new apartments, let&rsquo;s create loft space, or lets put in new retail or a coffee shop. Great, great, great. But when that happens then all of a sudden folks who have been renting for $800 and now have to pay $1200 or have to leave their home or lose their home, it&rsquo;s not affordable,&rdquo; Rudyk said.</p><p>He finds himself asking where the line is between redevelopment and gentrification.</p><p>&ldquo;How many new condos are too many? How many Starbucks are too many? So I think there&rsquo;s a tipping point a neighborhood has to reach. What it is? I don&rsquo;t know,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>But not everyone in this neighborhood thinks that tipping point is imminent.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/BC%20gentrification%201.jpg" title="Peggy Mejias stands outside her Belmont Cragin home. Her family was the second Latino household on the block. Although more whites are moving in, she doesn’t think the neighborhood is gentrifying. “These are just average families,” she says. (WBEZ/Susie An)" /></div><p>Peggy Mejias has been living in this house in Belmont Cragin since the 1980s, when home prices were near $50,000. Back then her household was the second Latino family on the block. Over the years she&rsquo;s seen the neighborhood shift from mostly white to mostly brown.</p><p>&ldquo;Now it&rsquo;s more Mexican. But now I&rsquo;m starting to see more Anglos in the area,&rdquo; Mejias said.</p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="320" scrolling="no" src="http://interactive.wbez.org/gentrification/widget/19/" style="float: left; clear: left;" width="400"></iframe></p><p>Mejias says there are more businesses opening up, like a busy laundrymat that she calls &ldquo;nice and expensive&rdquo; and a Dunkin Donuts that&rsquo;s packed in the mornings.</p><p>Then there&rsquo;s the vacant bar near her house. It&rsquo;s been converted into a trendy-looking hot dog eatery that&rsquo;s set to open next month.</p><p>&ldquo;I caught one of the construction guys and he said the person who purchased it, he&rsquo;s been working for him for a long time. He&rsquo;s an investor and he goes into neighborhoods that he sees are up-and-coming. And I walked home thinking, &lsquo;Oh yeah, up-and-coming. Here we go,&rsquo;&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Mejias doubts this shop will be wildly successful. She knows values in the neighborhood are going up, but she considers that normal redevelopment rather than the early signs of gentrification.</p><p>&ldquo;Gentrification is kind of bringing in a completely different class of people. The artistic. Like you see in, West Town, Bucktown when you saw all of that, it was the hipsters. It was all of that. These are just average families,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>That kind of stable growth is the same thing the Northwest Side Housing Center is seeking. It offers things like foreclosure prevention and financial education programs to keep the neighborhood affordable.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/BC%20gentrification%202.jpg" title="Gloria Valencia cooks dinner in her Belmont Cragin home. With the help of the Northwest Side Housing Center, she was able to buy her home last year. (WBEZ/Susie An)" /></div><p>Gloria Valencia took advantage of some of those services by taking a free homeownership class. She then applied for a loan from the Federal Housing Administration that allowed her to buy a four-bedroom house in the neighborhood last year.</p><p>The Northwest Side Housing Center even helped her start a block club.</p><p>&ldquo;We talk about what&rsquo;s going on with our block, our neighborhood and the whole city of Chicago. It could be small things like, &lsquo;I&rsquo;m missing a blue recycling bin&rsquo; to other things that are a little more important to our neighborhood and our block, such as gang violence,&rdquo; Valencia said.</p><p>James Rudyk says affordability doesn&rsquo;t mean housing values have to remain stagnant or that certain people or businesses should stay out.</p><p>&ldquo;If residents on Diversey and Laramie really do want a Starbucks, then let&rsquo;s put in a Starbucks. If they really do want a Trader Joes, then let&rsquo;s put in a Trader Joes. If they&rsquo;re really fine with the fruit market, let&rsquo;s leave the fruit market. So the question is, who makes that decision?,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Rudyk hopes it&rsquo;s the people who live here, and not outside investors. He says that may determine whether Belmont Cragin redevelops or gentrifies.</p><p><em>Susie An is WBEZ&rsquo;s business reporter. Follow her</em><a href="http://twitter.com/triciabobeda"> <em><u>@soosieon</u></em></a><em>.</em></p></p> Tue, 16 Dec 2014 07:37:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/and-coming-area-whats-tipping-point-gentrification-111236 SRO tenants gain protections http://www.wbez.org/news/sro-tenants-gain-protections-111093 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/RS7102_IMG_2085 (outside 2)-scr.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Low-income tenants of Chicago&rsquo;s disappearing single-room occupancy hotels have new protections under an ordinance city council approved Wednesday. The &ldquo;Chicago for All&rdquo; ordinance, as it has come to be known, passed 47-2, with only Aldermen Carrie Austin (34th) and Mary O&rsquo;Connor (41st) opposing. Supporters of the measure hope it will slow the trend of affordable SRO units falling into the hands of for-profit developers who displace low-income tenants.</p><p>&ldquo;This is all a piece of an overall fabric,&rdquo; said Mayor Rahm Emanuel, whose office helped broker the compromise between affordable housing advocates and SRO owners. &ldquo;The housing strategy particularly is part of a five-year plan: 41,000 units of affordable housing in the City of Chicago.&quot;</p><p>Emanuel&rsquo;s office worked closely with sponsors Alderman Walter Burnett (27th), Ameya Pawar (47th), and a coalition of organizations including ONE Northside, the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, and many more.</p><p>The ordinance regulates the sale of SRO buildings such that owners are encouraged to negotiate first with buyers who intend to preserve the building as affordable housing. If an owner opts not to do so, he may sell to for-profit developers and pay into a city SRO preservation fund at the rate of $20,000 per unit in the building. The preservation fund, in turn, could be used to provide forgivable loans to SRO owners who wish to make building improvements, to subsidize building purchases by preservation buyers, and to build new SRO buildings in Chicago.</p><p>&ldquo;In places like the Fourth Ward, we believe that we are doing our fair share when it comes to affordable housing and public housing,&rdquo; said Alderman William Burns (4th).&nbsp; &ldquo;And when we look at other places in the city, we ask what&rsquo;s being done to create affordable housing on the north lakefront? On the North Side of Chicago? So that there&rsquo;s equal opportunity for people to have affordable housing throughout the city&mdash;and particularly in communities where there&rsquo;s access to good schools, jobs, grocery stores, and an opportunity to break down racial segregation in this city?&rdquo;</p><p>Burns and other aldermen praised the ordinance for addressing, in part, the city&rsquo;s shortage of affordable housing. In particular, they cited it as a key way to combat the problem of homeless veterans. Housing advocates estimate about one-quarter of SRO residents are war veterans who might otherwise be homeless. Mayor Emanuel has declared one of his goals in the 2015 budget will be to end veteran homelessness in Chicago.</p><p>Additionally, the ordinance would provide additional financial assistance for SRO residents who are displaced. It would require building owners to pay between $2,000 and $10,600, depending on the circumstances. It would also forbid SRO owners from retaliating against residents who complain to the city or the news media about conditions in their buildings.</p><p>Negotiations between the city, advocates and SRO owners were challenging. Initially, many SRO owners hoped the city would shy away from regulations, and instead offer more financial incentives for them to keep their buildings affordable. But concerns early on that the regulations may be enough to prompt a lawsuit against the city have largely dissipated.</p><p>&ldquo;We were disappointed that the ordinance fell a bit short. We, and so many other stakeholders over about six months had been working very diligently,&rdquo; said Eric Rubenstein, Executive Director of the Single Room Housing Assistance Corporation. &ldquo;We will, as operators, do our very best to work with the plan, with the ordinance, as it was presented.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-6cd3f03c-a623-4dee-4055-9af79ec2a054"><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef">@oyousef</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 12 Nov 2014 16:29:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/sro-tenants-gain-protections-111093 Why are we still collecting taxes to prevent white flight in Chicago? http://www.wbez.org/news/why-are-we-still-collecting-taxes-prevent-white-flight-chicago-110325 <p><p>A controversial decades-old program to prevent white flight in Chicago is flush with cash and still collecting taxes from residents of the Southwest and Northwest sides &ndash; despite racial change and housing shifts.&nbsp;</p><p>The programs&rsquo; origins can be traced to the racial panic that gripped many white ethnic communities after voters elected Harold Washington as the city&rsquo;s first black mayor in 1983. Often that fear played out in the housing market with white bungalow belt families worried that blacks would move in and decrease their property values.</p><p>The money collected in the so-called home equity districts was used as a kind of insurance program &ndash; homeowners could file a cash claim if the value dropped upon selling.</p><p>The three little-known taxing districts are the <a href="http://www.nwhomeequity.org/" target="_blank">Northwest Home Equity Assurance Program</a>, the <a href="http://swghe.org/" target="_blank">Southwest Guaranteed Home Equity Program</a> and the <a href="https://www.swhomeequity.com/" target="_blank">Southwest Home Equity Assurance Program</a>.</p><blockquote><p><strong>MAP: <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/why-are-we-still-collecting-taxes-prevent-white-flight-chicago-110325#wheredistricts">Where are the home equity districts?</a></strong></p></blockquote><p>In the decades since they were created, most neighborhoods have experienced a racial transition on their own; they are no longer white enclaves. And yet the three home equity programs are still there, still collecting money from thousands of homeowners and not doing much else.</p><p>Collectively, these taxing districts sit on millions of dollars and some activists want that to change.</p><p><span style="font-size: 22px;">Save our neighborhood</span></p><p>The 1980s may seem a little late for <a href="http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/147.html" target="_blank">panic peddling and blockbusting</a> by unscrupulous realtors. After all, white flight had already happened decades earlier once blacks could legally buy homes wherever they wanted.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/home%20equity3_140611_nm.jpg" style="height: 349px; width: 620px; float: right;" title="A brochure explaining the home equity program on the Northwest Side. (WBEZ/Natalie Moore)" /></p><p>But segregation never really went away.</p><p>&ldquo;You had these bungalows near the stockyards, which to be blunt about it, wasn&rsquo;t exactly desirable real estate. These folks living in those bungalows &ndash; six rooms, a knotty pine basement, one bathroom and was there any racial acceptance? No!&rdquo; said Paul Green, Director of the Institute for Politics at Roosevelt University.</p><p>Historically, African Americans weren&rsquo;t a strong presence in the bungalow belt. And Green said longtime residents didn&rsquo;t exactly roll out the welcome wagon.</p><p>&ldquo;They were all basically white ethnic neighborhoods. The reality was is that the good people living there were afraid that they were going to lose the value of their homes, the only place they knew.&rdquo;</p><p>That fear gave birth to the white <a href="http://www.lib.niu.edu/1988/ii880524.html" target="_blank">Save Our Neighborhood/Save Our City coalition</a>.</p><p>&ldquo;You literally had racial change taking place mile by mile going west on 55th, 63rd, 71st. And those people didn&rsquo;t have anyplace to go,&rdquo; Green said. &ldquo;At that time there was very little reintegration after you had segregation. In other words, you look at the South Side of Chicago, you did not have neighborhoods that went from white to black to mixed.&rdquo;</p><p>The coalition pushed for an equity program to protect them from falling property values. Mayor Harold Washington, who understood white ethnic fear, got behind it. City Council considered an ordinance to implement the program. But black aldermen found the notion that whites needed home equity insurance racist. Washington publicly withdrew his support.</p><blockquote><p><strong>MAP: <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/why-are-we-still-collecting-taxes-prevent-white-flight-chicago-110325#racemap">How the racial makeup of Chicago neighborhoods has changed</a></strong></p></blockquote><p>Then in 1988 Southwest Side politician Michael Madigan stepped in. The powerful speaker of the Illinois House helped pass a state law that created three home equity taxing districts &ndash;&nbsp;including two on the southwest side. Another district was created on the northwest side.</p><p>Madigan declined an interview request.</p><p>&ldquo;The premise of the program was I think much more psychological. The psychology was people fear change and when you put into place this institutional mechanism, you create a way of responding to that fear,&rdquo; said Phil Ashton, of the University of Illinois at Chicago, who&rsquo;s studied home equity districts.</p><p><span style="font-size: 22px;">How home equity districts work</span></p><p>All homeowners in a designated district pay a small tax, sometimes as little as a dollar and fifty cents a year. That money goes into a fund and homeowners voluntarily enroll in the equity program. If the appraisal is less than the original purchase price when they decide to sell, homeowners receive a cash claim for the difference.</p><p>It&rsquo;s worth noting that Oak Park started a similar program in the late 1970s to manage racial integration. No claims were ever paid out and the program ceased.</p><p>But liberal Oak Park is much different from blue collar Marquette Park, where angry whites jeered at and stoned Martin Luther King in 1966 when he marched for racially open housing laws.</p><p>A horrified 16 year old Jim Capraro witnessed that incident a block away from his home. And he carried it with him as a young man.</p><p>&ldquo;I remember seeing Stokely Carmichael speak in Chicago, a civil rights leader. When he was done speaking, a white kid kind of raised his hand and said &lsquo;what should white kids do to change this?&rsquo; And Stokely said &lsquo;white kids should go back to where they came from and change it there,&rsquo;&rdquo; Capraro said.</p><p>He returned home to the Southwest Side and led the Greater Southwest Community Development Corporation for decades in Chicago Lawn.</p><p>Capraro served on the board of the Southwest Home Equity Assurance Program until 2010. He wasn&rsquo;t active in getting it started but has thought a lot about its effect.</p><p>&ldquo;Does a program like this support racism or thwart racism? Even the people who aren&rsquo;t racist might end up getting hurt because the very act of a large number of people fleeing puts more supply on the housing market than would normally be,&rdquo; Capraro said.</p><p>Whatever the intent, none of the 20-odd neighborhoods in the three home equity districts experienced white flight. Take Chicago Lawn for example. Decades after the ugly backlash against Dr. King, it experienced a smooth racial transition during the 1990s. Today 63rd Street is a bustling strip with mosques, a Harold&rsquo;s fried chicken, and a Belizean restaurant.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/home%20equity2_140611_nm.jpg" style="height: 349px; width: 620px; float: left;" title="A boarded up building in Chicago Lawn. Neighborhood activists say fixing vacancies should be a priority of the home equity districts. (WBEZ/Natalie Moore)" />Meanwhile, farther west, union signs hang on the front porches of blondish brick homes. Here, in the Clearing neighborhood, the area is still mostly white.</p><p>Many other neighborhoods in the home equity districts are largely Latino now.</p><p><span style="font-size: 22px;">&#39;Why should that money be sitting there?&#39;</span></p><p>At the Northwest Side Housing Center on west Addison Street, Polish signs hang inside the storefront. The office is crowded with people seeking help to keep their homes. The surrounding bungalow communities of Dunning, Portage Park and Irving Park used to house the largest concentration of Polish families in the city. Families like Ernie Luconsik&rsquo;s, a housing volunteer.</p><p>&ldquo;One of the reasons I moved to my area was because it was integrated. I found it fascinating that people got along and didn&rsquo;t look at people as any kind of color,&rdquo; Luconsik said.</p><p>These days there are nearly as many Latinos and Asians living in the neighborhoods.</p><blockquote><p><strong>CHART: <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/why-are-we-still-collecting-taxes-prevent-white-flight-chicago-110325#districtchange">How the racial makeup of the home equity districts has changed</a></strong></p></blockquote><p>&ldquo;As a community-based organization and community residents who are supposed to be benefiting, where is the accountability about the funds and how they are being used?&rdquo; said James Rudyk, executive director of the Northwest Side Housing Center.</p><p>The Northwest Home Equity Assurance Program taxes approximately 48,000 homeowners. Fewer than 10 percent of homeowners in the Northwest Side district are enrolled in the program &ndash;&nbsp;even though all of them pay the tax.</p><p>The fund has $9.6 million.</p><p>&ldquo;Why should that money be sitting there? And if it&rsquo;s something that&rsquo;s not going to produce back, then stop it overall. Because it&rsquo;s something that&rsquo;s not being a benefit for the people or the community,&rdquo; community organizer Vanessa Valentin said. She said families could use that money for something other than claims: home repairs, small loans to prevent foreclosure.</p><p>Rudyk said they tried to organize around this issue several years ago, but got nowhere.</p><p>&ldquo;They have not returned our calls either or our request for a meeting. We were told why are we here, why are we questioning? This isn&rsquo;t our business,&rdquo; Rudyk said.</p><p>I know the feeling.</p><p>When I tried to talk to somebody from the three equity programs, no one agreed to a recorded interview. One of the programs wouldn&rsquo;t even give me their financials until the state attorney general got involved.</p><p>Judging the success or failure of the equity programs is hard. Did the psychology of having insurance keep white families from fleeing?</p><p>We may never know. While blacks never did buy many homes in the bungalow belt, today the northwest and southwest sides are no longer exclusive white enclaves.</p><p>UIC&rsquo;s Ashton said immigrants helped stabilize changing communities where the taxing districts exist.</p><p>&ldquo;Absent Latino homebuyers, white homeowners would&rsquo;ve struggled to find replacements for themselves when they were trying to move out through course of the 1990s. And they didn&rsquo;t move out because, I don&rsquo;t think, they encountered more minorities moving in,&rdquo; Ashton said. &ldquo;They moved out because they were getting old and their home was their major source of wealth and they wanted to retire or they were passing away and the family wanted to resolve the estate by selling the home.&rdquo;</p><p>Now those same immigrant families are facing a fresh set of challenges related to the housing downturn.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Residents want money invested in neighborhoods</span></p><p>Veronica Villasenor is a counselor for the Brighton Park Neighborhood Council, which serves a low-income and working class Latino area.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m a Hispanic, I&rsquo;m a Latina. I know how my parents think. I know how my parents were victims of getting a mortgage that wasn&rsquo;t sustainable,&rdquo; Villasenor said. &ldquo;Just in general the community is not educated. I think the state should assign money to develop education programs for these families &ndash; financial literacy, for mortgages.</p><p>Where would that money come from? Villasenor has her eye on the $1 million cash reserve in the Southwest Home Equity Assurance Program.</p><p>That&rsquo;s the board Capraro used to sit on the board of that program. He said he can count the number of claims that went out. Usually because of an inaccurate appraisal, not because of a drop in home values.</p><p>Realizing the program was flush with cash, Capraro says the board took action.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;We appealed to the legislature and actually got permission to do this: we were lending people money at interest rates that were much less expensive than a normal home improvement loan or home equity line of credit,&rdquo; Capraro said.</p><p>It was a popular program until the housing market crashed. Suddenly, a roof repair wasn&rsquo;t as important as hanging on to one&rsquo;s home.</p><p>Separately, the Southwest Guaranteed Home Equity Program has more than $53 thousand dollars in the bank. Last year it collected $185,000 but it hasn&rsquo;t had any recent payouts.</p><p>The Northwest Home Equity Assurance Program last paid out a claim more than 15 years ago.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;Let them explain to community residents what&rsquo;s being done with these funds and how we can work together it&rsquo;s not work against each other it&rsquo;s work together for the benefit of the community,&rdquo; Valentin said.</p><p>In 2011, the <em><a href="http://www.suntimes.com/news/watchdogs/8177235-452/taxpayer-money-set-aside-to-curb-white-flight-helped-some-flee-city.html#.U5XsW1fvn_Y" target="_blank">Chicago Sun-Times</a></em> investigated how families were cashing out of the program due to the housing economic slump, which is not what the taxing districts were designed for.</p><p>Put aside, for a moment, the reason these three taxing districts exist and focus just on the dollars.</p><p>Any community area would envy a pot of money that could potentially be reinvested back in the neighborhood &ndash;&nbsp;no matter what race benefits.</p><p><span style="font-size: 22px;">Map: Where are the home equity districts?<a name="wheredistricts"></a></span></p><p><span style="font-size:14px;">(click on the districts for financial info)</span></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="300" scrolling="no" src="https://www.google.com/fusiontables/embedviz?q=select+col2%3E%3E0+from+1OVxIg4ZMZyPSe4FvVqVzWQasXgkF9WbsSNyMnsF4&amp;viz=MAP&amp;h=false&amp;lat=41.87606330248448&amp;lng=-87.73913351843261&amp;t=1&amp;z=10&amp;l=col2%3E%3E0&amp;y=2&amp;tmplt=2&amp;hml=KML" width="620"></iframe></p><p><span style="font-size: 22px;">Chart: How the racial makeup of home equity districts has changed<a name="districtchange"></a></span></p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/district%20change%20chart.PNG" style="height: 297px; width: 620px;" title="(WBEZ/Chris Hagan)" /></div><p>Chicago&#39;s three home equity districts cover 18 community areas. Those neighborhoods saw major demographic shifts from 1990 to 2010. For example, in Archer Heights White residents made up 90 percent of the population in 1990 but only 21 in 2010, a drop of 69 percentage points. In the same time Latino residents increased from 9 to 76 percent.</p><p><span style="font-size: 22px;">Map: How the racial makeup of Chicago has changed<a name="racemap"></a></span></p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/maps.PNG" style="height: 381px; width: 620px;" title="Dot density map showing census numbers. (WBEZ/Chris Hagan)" /></div><blockquote><div>&nbsp;</div></blockquote><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/nmoore-0" rel="author">Natalie Moore</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s South Side Bureau reporter. <a href="mailto:nmoore@wbez.org">nmoore@wbez.org</a>&nbsp;</em><em>Follow Natalie on <a href="https://plus.google.com//104033432051539426343" rel="me">Google+</a>, &nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/natalieymoore">Twitter</a></em></p></p> Wed, 11 Jun 2014 14:10:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/why-are-we-still-collecting-taxes-prevent-white-flight-chicago-110325 Morning Shift: Rockford getting a boost from an Esty economy http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-02-03/morning-shift-rockford-getting-boost-esty-economy <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Flickr Charles &amp; Hudson.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>We take a look at how the online craft marketplace Etsy has teamed up with Rockford, Illinois. Plus, what&#39;s the real deal with e-cigarettes? We talk with smoking cessation expert Dr. Philip McAndrew to clear through some of the confusion.&nbsp;</p><div class="storify"><iframe src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-rockford-getting-a-boost-from-an-est/embed?header=false" width="100%" height=750 frameborder=no allowtransparency=true></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-rockford-getting-a-boost-from-an-est.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-rockford-getting-a-boost-from-an-est" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Rockford getting a boost from an Esty economy" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Mon, 03 Feb 2014 08:35:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-02-03/morning-shift-rockford-getting-boost-esty-economy Emanuel presents five-year housing plan to city council http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-presents-five-year-housing-plan-city-council-109519 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/rahmhousing.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel will present a five-year housing plan to city council on Wednesday that calls for investing $1.3 billion to produce or preserve 41,000 units of housing.</p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/dam/city/depts/dcd/general/housing/Chicago_Housing_Plan_Draft_For_Public_Review_Web.pdf">&ldquo;Bouncing Back&rdquo;</a> tries to address forces that have battered Chicago - namely the foreclosure crisis and a population decline of 200,000 people from 2000 to 2010 -- with a focus on putting vacant and foreclosed properties back into the mix.</p><p dir="ltr">The city wants to unload the 8,000 residential parcels it owns.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We would like to create a much smoother and more efficient process for getting those parcels back out to people who can use them, make larger lots for example,&rdquo; said Andrew Mooney, commissioner of planning and development.</p><p dir="ltr">For example, a program called Englewood Estates in the Englewood neighborhood would allow residents to acquire city-owned lots. These kind of side-lot programs aren&rsquo;t new and are criticized because owners must still pay taxes on the properties. Mooney said he will work with city council to work out possible incentives.</p><p dir="ltr">Other initiatives in the 2014-18 housing plan include accelerating the <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/dcd/supp_info/micro_market_recoveryprogram.html">micro market recovery program</a>, which slows down the red tape process to put troubled buildings in court and find new property owners; down payment grants for first-time homeowners, pressuring banks to do better neighborhood lending and foreclosure counseling.</p><p dir="ltr">Another growing challenge faces residents.</p><p dir="ltr">According to the Chicago Rehab Network, half of Chicagoans are rent burdened - they pay more than 30 percent of their income on rent. The same goes for homeowners in the city.</p><p dir="ltr">Kevin Jackson, executive director of the housing advocacy group, said the city&rsquo;s plan does little to address that hardship.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Housing insecurity in Chicago is expanding,&rdquo; said Jackson who was on the steering committee for the plan. &ldquo;Given the housing insecurity, we haven&rsquo;t seen a proportionate response from the city in terms of what we should be doing for housing in our neighborhoods.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">The median income also fell during the last census period. Mooney said as household incomes improve, hopefully families will be less burdened.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;The economy is going to have a more dramatic impact on family rental burden and home ownership burden than what the city itself can provide, in terms of subsidy,&rdquo; Mooney said.</p><p dir="ltr">This is the fifth city housing plan in the last two decades and it runs from 2014-18. This time around, the plan has a missing word in its title, and that&rsquo;s rankled some advocates.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;The mayor took &lsquo;affordable&rsquo; out of the name. That was indicative to us and troubling,&rdquo; said Leah Levinger, of the Chicago Housing Initiative.</p><p dir="ltr">Mooney said the city had the responsibility to look at the entire city because of the unexpected recession. He said previous housing plans worked under the assumption of a rising housing market.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It would&rsquo;ve been at our peril to have ignored what was going on in the housing market, generally, as we hope to climb out &nbsp;of what happened to the city over these last few years,&rdquo; Mooney said.</p><p dir="ltr">According to the plan, more than 75 percent of the units will go to households earning 60 percent of the area median income, or $44,000 for a family of four.</p><p>Housing activity has plummeted in the city. Building permit activity peaked at 15,000 units in 2006 and 2007 and fell to less than 1,300 in 2009, according to the plan. But there are bigger trends to consider in Chicago. The population has decreased by more than 900,000 since 1950. There&rsquo;s a correlation between where vacant land sits idle, and the loss of manufacturing jobs in those neighborhoods.</p><p>The plan is less than the $1.5 billion spent from 2009-13. Mooney said the reduction reflects cuts from federal and local resources.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/nmoore-0" rel="author">Natalie Moore</a> is a WBEZ reporter. <a href="mailto:nmoore@wbez.org">nmoore@wbez.org</a></em></p><p><em>Follow Natalie on <a href="https://plus.google.com//104033432051539426343" rel="me">Google+</a>, &nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/natalieymoore">Twitter</a></em></p></p> Wed, 15 Jan 2014 09:08:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-presents-five-year-housing-plan-city-council-109519 Morning Shift: Does interfaith dialogue do more than preach to the choir? http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-12-30/morning-shift-does-interfaith-dialogue-do-more-preach <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Cover Flickr 1yen.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Religious leaders from around the city join us to discuss the state of interfaith relations in Chicago. We take a look at tech trends past and present. And, Chicago Mag&#39;s Dennis Rodkin checks in with the latest in housing issues.&nbsp;</p><div class="storify"><iframe src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-does-interfaith-dialogue-do-more-tha/embed?header=false" width="100%" height=750 frameborder=no allowtransparency=true></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-does-interfaith-dialogue-do-more-tha.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-does-interfaith-dialogue-do-more-tha" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Does interfaith dialogue do more than preach to the choir?" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Mon, 30 Dec 2013 08:28:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-12-30/morning-shift-does-interfaith-dialogue-do-more-preach Morning Shift: The strange and silly Midwest on the big screen http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-10-04/morning-shift-strange-and-silly-midwest-big-screen <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Weird Midwest Flickr Joana Roja - work and migraines - coming back.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>We unearth some Midwestern weirdness with Found Footage Festival creators Nick Prueher and Joe Pickett. Housing reporter Dennis Rodkin shares a new strategy for home buyers with bad credit. And, John U. Bacon tackles the question: should college athletes be paid?</p><div class="storify"><iframe src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-the-strange-and-silly-midwest/embed?header=false" width="100%" height=750 frameborder=no allowtransparency=true></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-the-strange-and-silly-midwest.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-the-strange-and-silly-midwest" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: The strange and silly Midwest on the big screen" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Fri, 04 Oct 2013 08:27:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-10-04/morning-shift-strange-and-silly-midwest-big-screen First comprehensive transgender housing center in the nation opens in Chicago http://www.wbez.org/news/first-comprehensive-transgender-housing-center-nation-opens-chicago-108056 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Transgender.JPG" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">Reverend Stan Sloan sat in the freshly designed living room of the new <a href="http://www.chicagohouse.org/translife.html">TransLife Center</a>. &nbsp;As CEO of <a href="http://www.chicagohouse.org/">Chicago House</a> he spent years in this home, running it as an &nbsp;AIDS hospice, &ldquo;These beautiful wooden floors were covered with linoleum because we had IV drips and blood and everything that came with AIDS in the early days.&rdquo;</p><p>Sloan says thousands of gay men died with dignity in this home. Now he hopes it will help transgender people live with dignity. &nbsp;The center will provide housing, medical services, legal services, and employment training with many staff coming from the transgender community.</p><p>Mara Keisling founded the <a href="http://transequality.org/">National Center for Transgender Equality</a>. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s such an honor that now it&rsquo;s going to be dedicated to trans people, helping trans people.&rdquo;</p><p><a href="http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0905154/">Lana Wachowski</a> attended the opening. She said she had observed transgender homelessness in her neighborhood. &ldquo;Often LGBT people, especially the T&rsquo;s, are in need of family,&rdquo; she said. &nbsp;Wachowski said that this center recognizes that family extends beyond just our blood and kin.</p><p>Stormie Williams cut the ribbon for the opening. She will be one of the first residents and has already found employment with help from the staff. &ldquo;I know there are more things to come,&rdquo; she said.</p><p><em>Shannon Heffernan is a reporter for WBEZ. Follow her at @<a href="https://twitter.com/shannon_h">shannon_h</a></em></p></p> Mon, 15 Jul 2013 16:28:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/first-comprehensive-transgender-housing-center-nation-opens-chicago-108056 Construction begins on Midwest’s first affordable housing for LGBTQ seniors http://www.wbez.org/news/construction-begins-midwest%E2%80%99s-first-affordable-housing-lgbtq-seniors-107501 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/photo (1)(1).JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Construction vehicles knocked down walls at a building in Lakeview Monday to prepare for what will soon become the region&rsquo;s first LGBTQ-friendly senior affordable housing development.</p><p>The $26 million dollar development will occupy a part of the old 23rd district Town Hall police station on Halsted and Addison streets, as well as the now-vacant space next to it. The building will be home to 79 studio and one-bedroom apartments, as well as a space for community programming run by <a href="http://www.centeronhalsted.org/" target="_blank">The Center on Halsted</a>.</p><p>The development has been in the works for a while. By Lakeview Ald. Tom Tunney&rsquo;s count, he&rsquo;s been working on the issue for at least 10 years. Tunney, one of the first openly gay Chicago aldermen, says the work won&rsquo;t stop once the center opens.</p><p>&ldquo;The selection process is going to be interesting because the demand is gonna be amazing,&rdquo; Tunney said. &ldquo;And getting it open and learning in general how to integrate the community center with the housing component, I think there&rsquo;s gonna be a few challenges there.&rdquo;</p><p>Some Chicagoans have already voiced interest in living in the building. Tom Genley said the senior center would be a safe zone, and thus he was eyeing one of the apartments.</p><p>&ldquo;Here, because I can be me, an out gay man. Here, because I do not have to hide my true self,&rdquo; Genley said. &ldquo;Here, because the closet is for clothes.&rdquo;</p><p>But alongside the celebration and hard-hat photo-ops was an air of disappointment over the Illinois House of Representatives&rsquo; decision not to call a vote on a bill to legalize same-sex marriage. During her remarks about the housing project, Representative Sara Feigenholtz called the last weekend of the legislative session one where a lot of &ldquo;broken dreams happened.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;We just didn&rsquo;t quite get it done yet,&rdquo; Feigenholtz said. &ldquo;But we&rsquo;re gonna go back and we&rsquo;re gonna get it done.&rdquo;</p><p>Democratic state Rep. Greg Harris of Chicago decided not to call a House floor vote on the bill that would&#39;ve made Illinois the 13th state to allow gay marriage. Harris said he didn&#39;t have the votes but also vowed to bring back the issue.</p><p>The Center on Halsted has been working with <a href="http://www.heartlandalliance.org/" target="_blank">The Heartland Alliance</a>, a local anti-poverty organization, state and city officials on the financing and construction for the affordable housing development.&nbsp; All 79 units will be subsidized, and will cost no more than 30 percent of a given resident&rsquo;s income. Construction on the building is scheduled to be completed by the fall of 2014.</p><p><em>Lauren Chooljian is WBEZ&rsquo;s Morning Producer/Reporter. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/laurenchooljian" target="_blank">@laurenchooljian</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 03 Jun 2013 16:03:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/construction-begins-midwest%E2%80%99s-first-affordable-housing-lgbtq-seniors-107501