WBEZ | Housing http://www.wbez.org/tags/housing Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en 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 Reporter's Notebook: Life in public housing vs. the fanciest downtown apartment http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/reporters-notebook-life-public-housing-vs-fanciest-downtown-apartment-107103 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/tanveer and realtor.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="650" src="http://embed.verite.co/timeline/?source=0AgYZnhF-8PafdGJhci1aV2Q3YlhXb0JOREg5LVNXVWc&amp;font=Bevan-PotanoSans&amp;maptype=toner&amp;lang=en&amp;width=620&amp;height=650" width="620"></iframe></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/about-curious-city-98756">Curious City</a>&nbsp;is a news-gathering experiment designed to satisfy the public&#39;s curiosity.&nbsp;People&nbsp;<a href="http://curiouscity.wbez.org/#!/ask">submit questions</a>,&nbsp;<a href="http://curiouscity.wbez.org/#!/ask">vote&nbsp;</a>for their favorites, and WBEZ reports out the winning questions in real time on&nbsp;<a href="http://www.facebook.com/curiouscityproject">Facebook</a>,&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/#!/WBEZCuriousCity">Twitter&nbsp;</a>and the timeline above.</p><p>Curious Citizen Heather Radke asked about the relationship between where we live and our everyday lives, and she wants the answer to be based on real experience. If you have leads or a point for us to consider, please comment below, or hit us at any of the social media outlets listed above!&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 09 May 2013 13:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/reporters-notebook-life-public-housing-vs-fanciest-downtown-apartment-107103 Advocates push Emanuel to protect renters in foreclosed units http://www.wbez.org/news/advocates-push-emanuel-protect-renters-foreclosed-units-106197 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Burnett.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px; float: left; height: 261px; width: 200px;" title="Ald. Walter Burnett Jr., 27th, calls talks for protections ‘99 percent’ done. (WBEZ file/Chip Mitchell)" /></p><p>Some Chicago tenant advocates are turning up the heat on Mayor Rahm Emanuel as they negotiate with his administration about protecting renters in foreclosed units.</p><p>The talks concern &ldquo;Keep Chicago Renting,&rdquo; a measure proposed last summer by Ald. Richard Mell (33rd) that would have banned post-foreclosure evictions except under narrow circumstances such as the tenant&rsquo;s failure to pay rent.</p><p>The proposal stalled in the City Council&rsquo;s Housing Committee, chaired by Ald. Ray Suárez (31st).</p><p>A statement from Emanuel&rsquo;s office says his administration supports the principle of providing tenants &ldquo;the protections they deserve during a foreclosure process.&rdquo;</p><p>But the mayor&rsquo;s office says it wants a &ldquo;strong ordinance that can withstand any challenge from opponents.&rdquo; Instead of an eviction ban, the city has been pushing to have banks pay evicted renters a &ldquo;relocation-assistance fee.&rdquo;</p><p>A coalition of tenant advocates behind the original measure says it could live with that substitute.</p><p>&ldquo;The coalition believes that the city&rsquo;s model, if done right, could meet the goals of the original ordinance &mdash; which are to keep renters in their homes and prevent more dangerous vacant buildings in our city,&rdquo; Manolita Huber of the Albany Park Neighborhood Council said.</p><p>The negotiations have focused on the fee amount, among other details, and have dragged on for months.</p><p>&ldquo;To the mayor, we say the people of Chicago cannot wait,&rdquo; Flora Johnson of SEIU Healthcare Illinois and Indiana said Wednesday at a North Side rally organized by the coalition. &ldquo;We must address this issue today. Keep Chicago renting!&rdquo;</p><p>Mayor Emanuel&rsquo;s office says an agreement is near. &ldquo;We are in the final stages of drafting a substitute ordinance that can help ensure Chicago tenants will have the protections they deserve during a foreclosure process,&rdquo; the office said in a statement Wednesday afternoon.</p><p>Ald. Walter Burnett Jr. (27th), a supporter of the original ordinance who is is participating in the negotiations, on Wednesday called the talks &ldquo;99 percent&rdquo; done.</p><p>Burnett said the measure was on its way to the council floor this spring. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re right there,&rdquo; he insisted. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s getting ready to happen.&rdquo;</p><p>Nearly 17,000 Chicago apartment buildings, amounting to almost 52,000 units, went into foreclosure in 2009, 2010 and 2011, according to the Lawyers&rsquo; Committee for Better Housing, a backer of the original ordinance. Those buildings constituted about 9 percent of Chicago&rsquo;s rental housing stock.</p><p>Last year, 2,279 multifamily buildings were auctioned in the city, according to the Woodstock Institute, another supporter of the original ordinance.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/cmitchell-0">Chip Mitchell</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s West Side bureau reporter. Follow him <a href="https://twitter.com/ChipMitchell1">@ChipMitchell1</a> and connect with him through <a href="https://www.facebook.com/chipmitchell1">Facebook</a> and <a href="http://www.linkedin.com/in/ChipMitchell1">LinkedIn</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 20 Mar 2013 18:19:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/advocates-push-emanuel-protect-renters-foreclosed-units-106197 10 Years since Iraq: The Changing Face of War http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/10-years-iraq-changing-face-war-107190 <p><p>This program to mark the tenth anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq War in 2003, includes a panel of speakers addressing the changing face of war. Abroad, the US&#39; increased use of drones for &quot;targeted killings&quot; in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, has resulted in the deaths of thousands of civilians. Here in the US, deadly cuts continue to be imposed on domestic programs in order to fund the Pentagon&#39;s excessive spending and line the pockets of wealthy corporations, such as Boeing. The fights for public education, housing, and healthcare are intricately tied to the fights against war and imperialism.</p><p><strong>Peter Lems</strong> is a leader in the American Friends Service Committee anti-drone effort. <strong>Kait McIntyre</strong> of the Anti-War Committee speaks about the local campaign targeting Boeing. <strong>Vince Emanuele</strong>, of the Iraq Veterans Against the War, served two tours in Iraq.</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/AFSC-webstory_7.jpg" style="float: left;" title="" /></div><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><br />Recorded live Wednesday, March 20, 2013 at Grace Place.&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 20 Mar 2013 15:37:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/10-years-iraq-changing-face-war-107190