WBEZ | affordable housing http://www.wbez.org/tags/affordable-housing Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en The tale of the two-flat http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/tale-two-flat-110681 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/164044282&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><em>Editor&#39;s note: The podcast version of the story includes an excerpt from a <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/chicagos-flammable-fire-escapes-109009#related" target="_blank">more extensive examination of Chicago-area wooden porches used as a means of egress</a>.&nbsp;</em></p><p>Most older U.S. cities have a signature kind of building. In Brooklyn it&rsquo;s the brownstone, one standing shoulder-to-shoulder to the next. In Philadelphia, newcomers and visitors are struck by the distinctive row houses.</p><p>What about Chicago? Well, it&rsquo;s a city known for its skyscrapers, for sure. Outside of downtown, though, you won&rsquo;t find soaring steel and glass. In the neighborhoods, it&rsquo;s wood, brick and stone. The real workhorse of Chicago&rsquo;s built environment is the modest, ubiquitous (yet fascinating) two-flat.</p><p>You know the building. Two stories, with an apartment unit on each floor, usually with bay windows greeting the street through of a facade of brick or greystone. Most were built between 1900 and 1920.</p><p>Two-to-four unit apartment buildings make up 27 percent of Chicago&rsquo;s housing stock, according to data from the <a href="http://www.housingstudies.org/" target="_blank">DePaul Institute of Housing Studies</a>. The rest is split evenly between single-family homes, condominiums and buildings with five or more units.</p><p>We recently got a question that returns some wonder to this everyday building. Our question asker, who chose to stay anonymous, is particularly interested in why the two-flat became so popular. And she wants to know who calls these buildings home. As she observes in <a href="http://curiouscity.wbez.org/questions/743" target="_blank">the question she submitted to Curious City</a>, they&rsquo;re somewhere between suburban houses and big apartment buildings:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>Chicago-area two-flats straddle the line between apartments and homes. Who were they originally designed to serve? Has that changed?</em></p><p>The answer to that last part? It&rsquo;s revealed in a story, one you&rsquo;d miss if you choose to focus on the city&rsquo;s skyline or crane your neck to see the top of the Willis (Sears) Tower. It turns out the advent of the humble two-flat mirrors the development of Chicago&rsquo;s middle class. And in many ways it still does today, but in the wake of the 2008 financial and foreclosure crises, that may be changing.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">A Bohemian building boom</span></p><p>Through the late 1800s, European immigrants made up almost half of Chicago&rsquo;s population. Hundreds of thousands of Polish, German and Czech people settled here, often making their first home in narrow one-story buildings usually made out of wood. Those came to be called worker&rsquo;s cottages.</p><blockquote><p style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://wbez.is/1q1Znnk" target="_blank"><strong>Related: How the size of the &quot;foreign born&quot; population has changed in the city.&nbsp;</strong></a></p></blockquote><p>As Chicago&rsquo;s big industries grew &mdash; Sears, McCormick Reaper and Western Electric, to name a few &mdash; so did the population. Soon it made sense for developers and architects to build up as they built out. Hence two- and three-flat buildings, which offered denser housing, and gave the owners a shot at some extra income from renting out their extra unit.</p><p>We found several architects from the era who built two-flats by the dozens on spec, meaning they weren&rsquo;t designing for a specific client, but acting as &ldquo;owner-architect&rdquo; in the parlance of records from the era. Many of them were Bohemian. (Today, the former Bohemia is part of the Czech Republic).</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/czeckad.jpg" title="An ad for Lawndale two-flats steered toward Eastern European immigrants. (Courtesy Chicago History Museum) " /></p><p>In fact, along with Jen Masengarb of the <a href="http://www.architecture.org/" target="_blank">Chicago Architecture Foundation</a> &mdash; whom we partnered with on <a href="http://curiouscity.wbez.org/questions/743" target="_blank">this voting round</a> and helped us research this story &mdash; we found an old article from the <em>Chicago Tribune</em> that shows the connection between the city&rsquo;s booming Czech population and its sprawling housing market. A headline from <a href="http://www.newspapers.com/newspage/28540648/" target="_blank">Oct. 17, 1903</a> crows: &ldquo;BOHEMIANS IN LEAD AS BUILDERS OF HOMES.&rdquo;</p><p>At the convention of the Building Association league of Illinois, Bohemian Frank G. Hajicek boasted of &ldquo;$12,000,000 in shares in force&rdquo; held by the &ldquo;the Bohemians of Chicago.&rdquo; It was a point of pride for the 28-year-old resident of the South Lawndale neighborhood.</p><p>&ldquo;Never in the history of the world, I believe, have people in a foreign land established themselves in homes so securely and rapidly as have the 200,000 Bohemians who make Chicago their home,&rdquo; said Hajicek in 1903.</p><p>In the heavily Eastern European Southwest Side neighborhoods of Pilsen (named for the Bohemian city of Plzeň), North Lawndale and South Lawndale, many of those homes were two-flats.</p><p>With Masengarb&rsquo;s help, we dug up some documents at the<a href="http://www.chicagohistory.org" target="_blank"> Chicago History Museum</a>, including a 1915 &ldquo;Book of Plans&rdquo; that enticed homebuyers to order away for all the materials needed to build a two-flat sized for a typical Chicago city lot.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/bookofplanslarger.png?X-Amz-Date=20140820T230405Z&amp;X-Amz-Expires=300&amp;X-Amz-Algorithm=AWS4-HMAC-SHA256&amp;X-Amz-Signature=0e3a3a6a0b29d425259052b3703515ab7598cbe280873635b935a1af08c36ea4&amp;X-Amz-Credential=ASIAIN5BXQNEZUY6CGKQ/20140820/us-east-1/s3/aws4_request&amp;X-Amz-SignedHeaders=Host&amp;x-amz-security-token=AQoDYXdzEB0agAL1JM9/evUYo4zSi5EslSe4w5BCdnblR6iWx/OMP5VfT%2BTAXjgZ5GaXATLEghwaxfzb23bqamb0oLMxy3ZkcNKr8Rx/VTnvM1pL6cqjnGhtdXbrNNdAN//OVwvuG7g2Dyi6mPMO4fVgnN4V8WkR8hTLLZCT7gvfClyS20d68gLiDZG0dNSfoTtV3ksuk60iO3zpM0HSgfdeUtqRArO0%2B%2BJVHEQ3MfYTDZ7ylKDcSYE1PACMgJ0UMv%2Bs0Iv5/yThsTk9v63rXfQCZe7sPT4L2QEDttAAWsnkXzPcwAKv8UDLe4axr%2BmfDZV8AoMj9nEj2iGWosSLs6DQHO2kqCBOauAzIOv%2B058F" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/bookofplansinset.png" title="Courtesy of the Chicago History Museum. Click for larger view. " /></a></div><p>&ldquo;Our design No. 144 is a two-family flat designed for a money making proposition,&rdquo; begins one such ad. &ldquo;Anyone wanting a comfortable home and at the same time a good income on the investment will do well to consider this proposition.&rdquo;</p><p>Many, it seems, did consider it. A 1910<em> Tribune</em> article reported $38 million of flat building, &ldquo;a new high record in this field, exceeding by over $4,000,000 the figures of 1908, which also established a new record.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">A &lsquo;workhorse building&rsquo; in a western paradise</span></p><p>Data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that it often wasn&rsquo;t young first-generation immigrants buying Chicago two-flats. Instead it was those who immigrated to Chicago as children in the late 19th century, and by the early 20th century had built up enough money to graduate from renting.</p><p>&ldquo;What appears to have happened is that the Czech population was essentially moving further west, out of Pilsen and other sort of areas, Maxwell Street areas, to newer land, I guess you could say,&rdquo; says Matt Cole of Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago, which administers the <a href="http://www.nhschicago.org/site/3C/category/greystone_history" target="_blank">Historic Greystone Initiative</a>. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s where the name California [Avenue] comes from &mdash; it was like their western paradise.&rdquo;</p><p>Jen Masengarb and I take Cole up on his offer to point out one such western paradise: <a href="https://www.google.com/maps/place/North+Lawndale,+Chicago,+IL/@41.8582574,-87.7139721,15z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x880e328a692e8e51:0x26c3604dc3282d76" target="_blank">the part of North Lawndale known as K-Town for its K-named avenues (Kostner, Kildare, Keeler, etc.)</a> near Pulaski and Cermak Roads. In 2010 K-Town was listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its collection of classic Chicago apartment buildings.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/masengarbktown.jpg" title="Reporter Chris Bentley, Jen Masengarb and Matt Cole with Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago meet in K-Town to learn about Chicago's two-flats. (Photo courtesy Anne Evans) " /></div><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s like a microcosm of Chicago architecture,&rdquo; says Cole, pointing out stately greystones, single-family brick residences and flats in styles ranging from Queen Anne to Prairie to mashups of any and all architectural detailing popular between 1900 and 1930. &ldquo;The reality is that the two-flat and three-flat are the workhorse building of this period of Chicago.&rdquo;</p><p>During our neighborhood walk, Masengarb points out that for a lot of early 20th century Chicagoans, the two-flat was a vehicle of social mobility.</p><p>&ldquo;This two-flat is that bridge, I think, between that older 1880s, 1870s housing,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;And then the bungalow which was the even bigger dream, and a bigger yard, my own space and nobody living upstairs, clomping around. &ldquo;</p><p>Consider Frank Stuchal. Census data shows in 1888 he immigrated to Chicago from Bohemia as a 13-year-old with his parents and two sisters. The census is taken every 10 years, and every 10 years as his income increased &mdash; Stuchal was first employed as a typesetter, then a print shop foreman, and finally business manager for a newspaper &mdash; he moved further west along Cermak avenue. In 1900 the 24-year old Stuchal rented an apartment at W. 23rd Street and South Spaulding Avenue with his two sisters. In 1920 he and his wife owned a two-flat, half of which they rented out to a German family. By 1930 he and his wife were raising their son in a bungalow they owned in the southwest suburb of Berwyn.</p><p>The 1920 census shows the street lined with two-flats occupied by second generation Czech, German, and Polish immigrants in their 40s and 50s, raising Chicago-born teenagers. Stuchal&rsquo;s neighbors included butchers, policemen, bookkeepers, bricklayers and librarians.</p><p>That two-flat Stuchal owned in 1920 was in K-town, near 21st Place and Keeler Avenue. It was built in 1916, and <a href="https://www.google.com/maps/@41.852501,-87.731744,3a,75y,144.04h,88.86t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sj8F0Ae9ndTVLStijAJ4d8A!2e0" target="_blank">it&rsquo;s still there</a>.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://www.google.com/maps/@41.852501,-87.731744,3a,75y,144.04h,88.86t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sj8F0Ae9ndTVLStijAJ4d8A!2e0" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/insert-images/Capture_0.JPG" style="width: 610px; height: 234px;" title="Frank Stuchal's two-flat was built in 1916. (Google Streetview/Google)" /></a></div><p>Today it&rsquo;s owned by Arquilla Lawrence, whose parents moved in when she was two years old.</p><p>&ldquo;And I love it,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s been my home all my life, ever since I was two we moved into the neighborhood. I&rsquo;ve been here my whole life except when I went away to college.&rdquo;</p><p>Like many African-Americans, Lawrence&rsquo;s father moved to the neighborhood from the South &mdash; Oklahoma, in his case &mdash; during <a href="http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/545.html" target="_blank">The Great Migration of blacks to northern cities </a>during the middle of the 20th century. After World War II the neighborhood became the first African-American neighborhood on Chicago&rsquo;s West Side.</p><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s why it&rsquo;s so well kept,&rdquo; says Corey Brooks, who also grew up in K-town. &ldquo;Because most of [the property owners] migrated from the South. This is where they put their roots in, so they all know each other.&rdquo;</p><p>Brooks introduces us to his wife, Rita, who is on her way to check in on her mom. Both of them moved back to their childhood homes in order to care for their parents. Turns out it&rsquo;s not just the neighborhood&rsquo;s property ownership that has lasted all these years.</p><p>&ldquo;This is my childhood sweetheart,&rdquo; says Rita, pointing to Corey. &ldquo;He was my first boyfriend! Then he got married to someone else, I got married, I lost my husband, and then two years ago we found each other and got married.&rdquo;</p><p>Before we leave K-Town, Jen Masengarb surveys the mishmash of early 20th century architectural styles on display.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s like a metamorphosis or an evolution. We&rsquo;re gonna try this over here on this block, and then this is five years later we&rsquo;re gonna try this &hellip; You can just see it evolving in the way that we live and the decisions that we&rsquo;re making in terms of what our families need, what is stylistically impressive,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;This architecture is us, it&rsquo;s a reflection of us.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Losing equity: Is the workhorse getting exhausted?</span></p><p>So the form of two-flats was basically a response to economics and demographics, as well as the size and shape of a Chicago city lot. The buildings no longer house predominantly Czech and other Eastern European immigrants, but today&rsquo;s tenants share a lot with their neighbors across the decades &mdash; many of them used two-flats to build community and a little bit of personal wealth in the form of equity. The two-flat was a bridge to a better life for the families that built Chicago as we know it.</p><p>One hundred years later, however, it&rsquo;s not clear how much longer two-flats will be able to fill that role.</p><p>K-town is well kempt, thanks in part to incentives from its historic district status. But two-flats are expensive to maintain. And since the 2008 financial and foreclosure crises, a lot of two-flats in other neighborhoods around Chicago are sitting vacant or being bought by developers who don&rsquo;t occupy the units.</p><p>And sometimes the ownership moved in the other direction. Eric Strickland tells us he bought a K-Town two-flat in the 90s. When he purchased the building on 21st Place, it was divided into three units. Once he&rsquo;d saved up enough money, Strickland converted the two-flat into a single-family home. He lives there now with his wife and daughter.</p><p>During the housing crisis two-to-four unit properties were disproportionately impacted by foreclosure. And Geoff Smith from the DePaul <a href="http://www.housingstudies.org/" target="_blank">Institute of Housing Studies</a> says two-flats don&rsquo;t really make economic sense for new development, so they may well be lost to history in lower-income neighborhoods.</p><p>&ldquo;What you see more commonly is a single-family home targeted for owner occupancy, or you see a larger rental building,&rdquo; Smith says.</p><p>He adds that, if older two-flats fall into disrepair, there will likely be no two-unit rentals to replace them. &nbsp;&ldquo;The concern is that in some of these more distressed areas, where there is a substantial stock of these buildings, there is a risk in some neighborhoods that this kind of housing could be lost,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>That prospect matters. According to data from the DePaul <a href="http://www.housingstudies.org/" target="_blank">Institute of Housing Studies</a>, today there are more than 76,000 two-unit apartment buildings in Chicago. In some neighborhoods &mdash; Brighton Park, New City, and South Lawndale &mdash; they still make up more than two-thirds of the housing stock, as well as a substantial proportion of the city&rsquo;s affordable housing.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://housing-stock.housingstudies.org/#13/41.8759/-87.6436" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/depaulmap.PNG" style="height: 300px; width: 620px;" title="Click to view full map from DePaul's IHS. " /></a></div><p>Prices for two-to-four unit buildings in distressed areas of Chicago fell roughly 70 percent between the pre-crash peak and current figures. That means many homes in those areas are worth less than they were in 1997, says Smith.</p><p>So if the &ldquo;money making proposition&rdquo; that two-flats once promised to working families is more elusive these days, what will become of the lower-income neighborhoods where these historic buildings are most prevalent?</p><p>&ldquo;Because of changing population dynamics, the changing nature of the city, in some areas you are going to see demand in decline. You may not see it recover, and there just may not be an economic value to some of these properties,&rdquo; says Smith. &ldquo;Hopefully some prescient, some really far forward-seeing investor can come in and say &lsquo;these properties have value for the long-term.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p><em>Chris Bentley is a freelance journalist and reporter for WBEZ&rsquo;s Curious City. <a href="http://cabentley.com/" target="_blank">Follow him at cabentley.com</a> and on Twitter at <a href="http://twitter.com/triciabobeda" target="_blank">@Cementley</a>. Jen Masengarb is Director of Interpretation and Research for <a href="http://www.architecture.org/" target="_blank">the Chicago Architecture Foundation</a> and contributed reporting to this story. </em></p><p><em>Correction: A draft of the text for this story misstated the time period during which the majority of Chicago two-flats were constructed. The correct timeframe is between 1900 and 1920.</em></p></p> Wed, 20 Aug 2014 16:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/tale-two-flat-110681 FLATS Chicago developer weighs in on housing affordability debate http://www.wbez.org/news/flats-chicago-developer-weighs-housing-affordability-debate-110475 <p><p>The City of Chicago continues to work on an ordinance to address the phenomenon of fast-disappearing single-room and residential hotels. In recent years, many of these traditionally affordable housing options, particularly along the lakefront on the city&rsquo;s North Side, have been bought and converted into high-end rentals. Hundreds of low-income tenants have been displaced, and with the help of community organizers, have turned the attention of city policy makers to the issue.</p><p>Developers, some of whom have been accused of accelerating the loss of residential hotels, have been quieter. But Jay Michael, co-founder of Cedar Street Properties and FLATS Chicago, recently shared his take on the efforts, and responded to criticism that he&rsquo;s one of the reasons that low-income residents can no longer afford to live on the North Side.</p><p>&ldquo;This is our favorite space. This may have been what really sold us,&rdquo; he said, standing in the basement of his most significant acquisition to date: the Lawrence House. He&rsquo;s looking at a 60-foot swimming pool, covered with wooden slats, but extending 8-feet deep on one end. The floors and walls are lined with beautiful aquamarine blue tiles.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s totally destroyed, but in the back there are these hamams -- these men and women steam facilities,&rdquo; he continued. &ldquo;We were like, &lsquo;Oh my God,&rsquo; my business partner and I, this is just like out of a movie -- &nbsp;it is out of a movie - this could be a movie, right?&rdquo;</p><p>Michael&rsquo;s company, FLATS Chicago, closed on the Lawrence House last year. It&rsquo;s a 13-story residential hotel in the heart of Uptown. When it opened in the late 1920s, it was the pinnacle of glitz and glam: it had an all-glass atrium entrance, porters at the doors, and hosted fashionable visitors who came in town to catch shows at the Aragon Theater and other mainstays of the then-bustling entertainment district.</p><p>When FLATS acquired it, however, the building was under two receiverships, home to about 100 residents who endured slum-like conditions. Delinquent owners allowed the structure to fall badly into disrepair. It was ridden with bed bugs, mice and crime and the utilities would sometimes even shut off. Despite the problems, some residents still paid as much as $700 per month to live there.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/FLATS 2.JPG" style="height: 240px; width: 320px; margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px; float: left;" title="Michael’s gut rehab of the Lawrence House Hotel will include a restoration of a 60-foot swimming pool. Ultimately, some rentals in the building could cost more than $2000. (WBEZ/Odette Yousef)" />Michael&rsquo;s total gut rehab and historic restoration is expected to cost around $18 million. In the end, rentals will start above $800 and go beyond $2000. While nobody believed the building&rsquo;s previous living conditions were acceptable, these prices have made him the new target of criticism.</p><p>&ldquo;The track record has shown that the units that he (Michael) has converted really has affected residents in a negative way,&rdquo; said D&rsquo;Angelo Boyland, an organizer with ONE Northside. The group holds FLATS Chicago responsible for the loss of more than 800 affordable units on Chicago&rsquo;s North Side within the last three years, contained in six FLATS-branded buildings.</p><p>Last year, ONE Northside made the fight against Michael a personal one. They rallied outside his Gold Coast home to protest the displacement of hundreds of North Side residents. Michael has refused to speak with them ever since.</p><p>Others agree that there&rsquo;s a growing housing crisis for low-income residents on the North Side. Many say single-room and residential hotels traditionally offered crucial transitional housing for people who otherwise would face homelessness. Social service agencies typically keep a list of these buildings on hand for when clients need them.</p><p>&ldquo;You know, I&rsquo;d have to update my list and say this one&rsquo;s not here anymore, and this one&rsquo;s closing, and so if anybody has any clients who live there, we&rsquo;re going to need to work with them and help them relocate,&rdquo; said Jennifer Cushman, who was a housing coordinator for Trilogy Health Services in Rogers Park.</p><p>But Cushman said she doesn&rsquo;t blame Michael -- or any other particular developer -- for the problem. She said the city needs to support more affordable housing. Michael agreed, and pointed out that he has preserved -- and improved -- some affordable housing. To prove it, he points out The Windale, an 81-unit building in Edgewater. It&rsquo;s one of two single-room occupancy hotels that Cedar St. Properties has acquired.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/FLATS%203.JPG" style="height: 240px; width: 320px; float: left; margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px;" title="Michael’s holding company, Cedar St. Properties, has bought two single-room occupancy hotels on the North Side. It is refurbishing the units in one of those, and keeping the rents below $700. (WBEZ/Odette Yousef)" />&ldquo;This one, we&rsquo;re planning on restoring and keeping as an SRO,&rdquo; said Michael. &ldquo;One of the things that I thought would be great, and this came from feedback from social service agencies, there&rsquo;ll be two case worker rooms at the end.&rdquo;</p><p>Michael has kept rents at the property under $700, all while renovating it to look cleaner and more pleasant. His company has pulled out the carpet, laid down wood flooring, and repainted the hallways. He said he plans to build a common kitchen on the ground floor.</p><p>Still, about half the previous tenants of the building opted to leave the building once Michael acquired it. He said they weren&rsquo;t interested in abiding by the new rules his company has set down: visitors only between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m., no overnight guests, and monthly room inspections.</p><p>Michael said he, himself, would not agree to live in a building that had rules like that.</p><p>&ldquo;But I think that if I had to live in 6019 (The Windale), I would probably prefer to live in (a building) with rules that looked clean and was safe like that, than the ones that didn&rsquo;t have rules and were nasty,&rdquo; he said. He added that he&rsquo;s awaiting federal approval for his first Section 8 housing voucher tenants to live in one of the pricier, FLATS-branded properties. He said once that goes through, he looks forward to having more government-subsidized tenants living in his upscale buildings.</p><p>Michael is working with the city and other housing advocates now on the SRO preservation ordinance, which would apply both to single-room occupancy buildings, and to residential hotels. They&rsquo;re thinking about how to preserve these buildings as affordable. But he worries about restrictions on owners.</p><p>&ldquo;My opinion is, if you&rsquo;re going to take someone&rsquo;s rights away from them, that&rsquo;s in exchange for an incentive,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;So if you choose to renovate your building, and if you choose to renovate it with affordability, there should be some sort of incentive offered.&rdquo;</p><p>Ultimately, Michael said the city will have to come up with a big pot of money as incentive for developers to keep affordable housing in their plans.</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> Thu, 10 Jul 2014 14:58:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/flats-chicago-developer-weighs-housing-affordability-debate-110475 Youth and the city http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-12/youth-and-city-109289 <p><div><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP332906622549.jpg" style="height: 412px; width: 620px;" title="(AP/Paul Beaty)" /></div></div><div>&ldquo;I forgot how easy it is to be young here,&rdquo; a friend said to me over the holiday weekend. He was in town visiting his mother, and he made the statement in assessment of a night out.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>It&rsquo;s true.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In Chicago, it is easy to find quality entertainment, cheap drinks, delicious food, and relatively affordable living and transportation options, especially compared to other cities.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>His comments reminded me of another from last year. A friend visited the city to see whether or not she wanted to move here. In the end, she chose New York. In terms of her career, it made sense. But did Chicago not provide enough of a challenge? Does it matter if Chicago is &ldquo;easy&rdquo; compared to other cities?&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Well, for one, who said that Chicago is easy?&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Earlier this summer, another friend said, &ldquo;Everyone&rsquo;s just dying,&rdquo; when explaining one of his reasons for wanting to move out of the city. Despite the frequent reports of violence in the city, it is easy to forget that the ease and accessibility of the city do not exist for a large segment of the city&rsquo;s population. Many of the amenities and much of the entertairnment people enjoy in the city tends to cater to one specific population.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Despite Chicago&rsquo;s conflicting narrative, many organizations do find the city worthy of praise. Chicago was ranked as the <a href="http://www.youthfulcities.com/#!Chicago/zoom/c5tu/i4awu" target="_blank">6th most &ldquo;youthful&rdquo; city</a> (out of 25 large urban global cities) as part of the 2014 YouthfulCities Index, created as &ldquo;the first index to rank cities from a youth perspective.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>For their index, the top five largest cities were chosen from five regions: Africa, Asia, English-speaking North America, Europe and Latin America. Youth was defined as 15-29 years old, and categories included public space, transportation and affordability and employment and fashion, among others.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Their rankings were based on 10 months of research with more than 75 people, &ldquo;contributing to 16 categories, 80 Global Indicators, and 2000 data points.&rdquo;&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>What does all of that mean?&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Well, for many young people, especially those fresh out of college, Chicago provides an ideal environment to thrive. We have many youth-friendly neighborhoods, bars, music venues, cheap restaurants, and affordable housing. But is any of this sustainable?&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>According to YouthfulCities, &ldquo;50 per cent of the world&#39;s population is under 30 years of age and 50 per cent of the world&#39;s population now live in cities.&rdquo; What happens when that population ages? In Chicago, growing out of the &ldquo;youthful&rdquo; phase does not always offer the accessibility and ease that can be found when young.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>According to the Index, Chicago ranks 2nd in public space, sports, and gaming. Our thankful abundance of public parks, beautiful waterfront, and loveable sports teams speaks to this easily. A middle-class lifestyle as a young 20-something is an ideal situation in Chicago.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>However, a middle-class lifestyle while trying to raise young children presents new hurdles. In the Index, Chicago ranked 21st overall in environmental sustainability. And while the Index claimed we were ranked 6th in the &ldquo;Economic Status Sub Index&rdquo; (comprised of indicators such as minimum wage, housing, and student housing), it does not speak to the sustainability and viability of these numbers in the long run.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Thirty-five is not as easy as 25. And with greater adulthood comes greater concerns.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Where are the quality, affordable, and accessible education options for all children? Where are the numerous housing options in safe neighborhoods? Where are the jobs that provide more than just the minimum wage?</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>According to the Index, <a href="http://media.wix.com/ugd/3a3a66_f8a747d9e1b244ceade7cdc6a6c90c3f.pdf" target="_blank">Chicago ranks 16th</a> in &ldquo;Civic Participation,&rdquo; a number that is not terrible, but is not worthy of praise. Only one American city &ndash; New York City &ndash; ranks within the Top 10. For Chicago to sustain itself as a city beyond &ldquo;youth&rdquo; it must grow into a place that is livable for all. And it is the people living within it (especially the youth who find it so charming and easy right now) who must take greater steps to secure its future.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>Britt Julious&nbsp;blogs about culture in and outside of Chicago. Follow her essays for WBEZ&#39;s Tumblr&nbsp;<a href="http://wbez.tumblr.com/">here</a>&nbsp;and on Twitter&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/britticisms" target="_blank">@britticisms</a>.</em></div></p> Tue, 03 Dec 2013 11:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-12/youth-and-city-109289 Surviving the grim side of the 'Cinderella' story http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/surviving-grim-side-cinderella-story-108857 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/RS7382_chd000051_g1-scr (1) (1).JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Kim Scott&rsquo;s had more than her share of ups and downs.</p><p>She was abused as a child. And as an adult, she was temporarily homeless three different times -- she remembers finding shelter with friends, family and in hotels.</p><p>Now she works for Mercy Housing, an agency that provides affordable housing, as the lead desk clerk. She said her life experiences have given her empathy for her clients.</p><blockquote><strong>Do you value hearing stories like this? <a href="http://www.wbez.org/donate" target="_blank">Help support WBEZ by making a donation today.</a></strong></blockquote><p>StoryCorps recorded Scott at Mercy, talking with co-worker Jennifer Feuer-Crystal about how life has knocked her down, and how she&rsquo;s able to keep getting back up.</p><p><strong>SCOTT: </strong>I had the Cinderella life. I had to do the cooking, the cleaning, the washing, the ironing. I had to take the kids to school, I had to make sure they were dressed and fed. And I used to get whoopings all the time &hellip; I would have these dreams of God. I would see God come down and get me and take me by the hand and take me away.</p><p>When she was 18, Scott learned she was pregnant. And she said she thought her life was over.</p><p><strong>SCOT</strong>T: I felt like there was nothing that I could do then. I was gonna be nothing.</p><p>But she went on to graduate high school, and to go to college. And she found joy in her children.</p><p><strong>SCOTT:</strong> I made sure that we always had something to do, we were always going to the park or downtown, Navy Pier, Sears Tower &hellip;. We lived in Roseland. There was a lot of violence. I had to show them there was something more than that.</p><p>Scott herself was homeless three times, but she said her children never knew.</p><p><strong>SCOTT: </strong>They never saw me down, they never saw me out.</p><p><em>To find out what gave Scott her strength, listen to the audio above.</em></p><p><em>Katie Mingle is a producer for WBEZ and the Third Coast Festival.</em></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Fplaylists%2F6250422" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><hr /><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 04 Oct 2013 12:34:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/surviving-grim-side-cinderella-story-108857 Judge orders Chicago’s Chateau Hotel vacated http://www.wbez.org/news/judge-orders-chicago%E2%80%99s-chateau-hotel-vacated-107698 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Chateau Hotel.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A judge has ordered that the three remaining tenants of a single-room occupancy building on Chicago&rsquo;s Far North Side leave by midnight next Friday.</p><p>The Chateau Hotel was the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/chateau-hotel-residents-avoid-immediate-order-vacate-105922" target="_blank">center of a long battle</a> between tenants who believed they were falling victim to gentrification pressures in the city&rsquo;s Uptown neighborhood, and a new property owner who has acquired several similar buildings in three North Side wards. With this order, BJB Properties, which acquired the building early this year, will be free to tear down the building&rsquo;s 138 units, and rebuild them into pricier rental units.</p><p>&ldquo;When we lose a big building like that in Uptown, it affects the segregation of the overall city,&rdquo; said Alan Mills, attorney at the Uptown People&rsquo;s Law Center. Mills represented two of the tenants who still live in the building in their eviction proceedings. He said his clients both opted to accept financial settlements with BJB Properties when it became clear that Judge William Pileggi would likely issue the order to vacate.</p><p>&ldquo;There is very little housing in the city of Chicago that is both affordable to someone who is for example on SSI, meaning that they make something like $700 a month, and is located in an integrated neighborhood,&rdquo; said Mills. &ldquo;The vast majority of that housing is in Uptown.&rdquo;</p><p>Uptown still has the city&rsquo;s highest concentration of SRO buildings in Chicago, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/slow-disappearing-act-chicago-sro-105836" target="_blank">but in recent years it has been shrinking</a>. Many of these old buildings have deteriorated from neglect, while the surrounding neighborhoods, close to the lake, have grown in value. Many have become embroiled in costly proceedings in the city&rsquo;s buildings court, a situation that has made them ripe for purchase by outside real estate companies who are keen to offload the troubled properties for relatively low prices, and turn them into upmarket housing.</p><p>&ldquo;A lot of the people who were living in the Chateau had issues with their credit,&rdquo; said Mary Tarullo, a community organizer with the Lakeview Action Coalition, which helped mobilize tenants against the eviction. &ldquo;An SRO is ... one of the very few places you can go where that&rsquo;s not an issue.&rdquo;</p><p>Tarullo said city partners, such as Catholic Charities, did what they could to help tenants of the Chateau Hotel find alternative homes. But she said their difficult backgrounds and the dwindling pool of SRO units in the city left some tenants hamstrung.</p><p>&ldquo;We know that a lot of those folks have moved to the South and West Sides. We&rsquo;ve heard of other people who&rsquo;ve gone to homeless shelters,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;We know a few people that ... were actually able to find some units at other SROs. And then others are doubling up with friends.&rdquo;</p><p>Tarullo said, however, that her organization has successfully met with BJB Properties owner James Purcell, Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) and James Cappleman (46th), and several housing providers in Chicago, to discuss rental subsidies in some of the buildings that are being converted. She said they are discussing how to include subsidized housing units in five of Purcell&rsquo;s buildings on the North Side.</p><p>Purcell&rsquo;s company and attorney did not return phone calls.</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her at <a href="http://twitter.com/oyousef" target="_blank">@oyousef</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 14 Jun 2013 07:39:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/judge-orders-chicago%E2%80%99s-chateau-hotel-vacated-107698 What it took to rehab the Viceroy http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/what-it-took-rehab-viceroy-107478 <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/Before-1.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="The Viceroy Hotel on Chicago’s near West Side fell on hard times before it was rehabbed late last year. (Photo courtesy of Shane Welch)" /></div><p>The Viceroy Hotel had its problems long before the alderman was robbed.</p><p>Built in 1929, the hotel originally catered to middle class professionals who couldn&rsquo;t afford their own two-flat. It was built in the dense, up-and-coming near West Side, with 175 tiny rooms and a view of Union Park. It was a beautiful example of Chicago&rsquo;s many Art Deco terracotta buildings. A <em>Chicago Daily Tribune</em> editorial from the year it was erected praised the new building, saying the hotel would &ldquo;add a dash of color to a district. . . daubed with grime put on by Old Father Time.&rdquo;</p><p>But like the surrounding neighborhood the Viceroy fell on hard, then harder, times. You&rsquo;d never recognize the building praised by the papers if you had seen the hotel just a few years ago.</p><p>&ldquo;My house got robbed several Christmases ago, and the police came and they didn&rsquo;t find anything,&rdquo; Alderman Walter Burnett (27th) recalled. &ldquo;Then somebody recognized the person who robbed my home. I jumped in the car, and I chased him right to the Viceroy Hotel.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>There, he saw some of the hotel&rsquo;s down-and-out residents.</p><p>&ldquo;There was a young lady who was on drugs, and there was a man who was pimping her,&rdquo; the alderman said. &ldquo;That was the type of characteristic of people who were in the Viceroy.&rdquo;</p><p>In 2002, a young reporter named Mandy Burrell <a href="http://www.chicagojournal.com/Blogs/Near-Loop-Wire/06-30-2010/From_the_archives:_A_night_at_the_Viceroy">tried to spend the night at the Viceroy</a> for a story. She was offered crack before she even walked in the door and could not bring herself to touch the furniture in her $38 room.</p><blockquote><p>After looking at the stained and soiled comforter tattered by cigarette burns and other unidentifiable transgressions, [I&rsquo;d decided] that we would not be lying or sitting on the bed that night. In fact, it didn&#39;t seem wholesome to touch anything in the room. From the faded, pulled-up mess of a carpet to the showerless bathroom, with its filthy bathtub and mildewed grout, it seemed impossible that the room would pass muster on any state health inspection. Even the wood paneling on the TV set was gashed and burned by god knows what. And there was no way I&#39;d ever use the threadbare towel or two Styrofoam cups resting upside down on the dresser.</p></blockquote><p>Burrell barely made it past midnight. Later she called the Viceroy &ldquo;the most depressing place I&rsquo;d ever been,&rdquo; although she admitted the real takeaway from her reporting was the stark contrast between her own privileged upbringing and that of the poverty-stricken tenants she encountered that night.</p><p>The Viceroy went out of business not too long after after that. Writing for WBEZ in 2011, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/content/another-chapter-chicago%E2%80%99s-viceroy-hotel">Micah Maidenberg described</a> the metal guards strapped across the windows of the vacant building.</p><p>But the Viceroy Hotel has gone through a second transformation: it&rsquo;s no longer a shady SRO, but rather, a model of affordable housing.</p><p>Now called Harvest Commons, the old hotel was recently rehabbed by a coalition of community developers and neighborhood groups, including Heartland Housing and the nearby First Baptist Congregational Church.&nbsp;</p><p>At a recent talk on the project, Hume An, Heartland Housing&rsquo;s Director of Real Estate, and architect Jeff Bone of Landon Bone Baker, explained their ambitions. The Viceroy was given city landmark status in 2010. But it wasn&rsquo;t enough for An, Bone and company to merely save the building, with its intricate, molded plaster and sculpted terracotta tiles.</p><p>An says Heartland is &ldquo;focused on affordable and permanent supportive housing.&rdquo; That means it wants to serve the neediest residents: those living at below 60 percent of area medium income. According to An, that translates to about $31,000 a year.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/After-1.jpg" style="float: right; height: 200px; width: 300px;" title="Harvest Commons’ 89 apartment units are subsidized by CHA, but are meant to look just like market rate units. (Photo courtesy of Shane Welch)" />&ldquo;That&rsquo;s not a lot of money,&rdquo; An says. And because of rental subsidies provided by the Chicago Housing Authority, An says that if residents &ldquo;make zero income, they pay zero rent.&rdquo;</p><p>The affordability piece of the Viceroy rehab is especially noteworthy as <a href="http://www.wbez.org/chateau-hotel-residents-avoid-immediate-order-vacate-105922">the city stands ready to lose other SROs</a>, which, despite their reputation as fleabag motels, still provide cheap housing to people who might otherwise be homeless.</p><p>&ldquo;We house those in most need,&rdquo; An added.</p><p>That includes people who are formerly homeless, incarcerated, or, like one resident An described, living in a shelter.</p><p>&ldquo;This is the first time in a long time he has his own kitchen and bathroom, and he&rsquo;s loving the privacy,&rdquo; An said.</p><p>Because Heartland&rsquo;s other mission is to build projects that are environmentally sustainable, Harvest Commons was also built with a number of green components, including geothermal heating and cooling systems, a green roof, and an adjacent urban farm. The project received&nbsp;certification from <a href="http://www.enterprisecommunity.com/solutions-and-innovation/enterprise-green-communities">Enterprise Green Communities</a>, a LEEDS alternative which works specifically with affordable housing.</p><p>Of course, the greenest part of all was using the existing building, rather than tearing it down in favor of new construction. It came at a price, though: $260 per square foot compared to the estimated cost of similar new construction, $90-200 per square foot. These costs were subsidized mostly by the state, along with historic tax credits.</p><p>In the audio above, An and Bone explain why the cost was so high, and what it took to pull off the rehab and reconstruction. Bone begins by describing the process of &ldquo;disassembling&rdquo; the historic building.<br /><br /><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range">Dynamic Range</a> showcases hidden gems unearthed from Chicago Amplified&rsquo;s vast archive of public events and appears on weekends. Hume An and Jeff Bone spoke at an event presented by the Chicago Architecture Foundation in May of 2013. Click <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/preservation-and-adaptive-reuse-viceroy-hotel-107421">here</a> to hear the event in its entirety.</em></p><p><em>Photos courtesy of Shane Welch. Check out more of his excellent architectural photography <a href="http://shanewelch.com/documentary/commercial/viceroy-hotel-reconstruction/">here</a>.</em></p><p><em>Robin Amer is a producer on WBEZ&rsquo;s digital team. Follow her on Twitter <a href="http://twitter.com/rsamer">@rsamer</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 31 May 2013 16:37:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/what-it-took-rehab-viceroy-107478 Saving greystones with blood, sweat -- and branding http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/saving-greystones-blood-sweat-and-branding-105992 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F82411229&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></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/abandoned%20greystones%20flickr%20eric%20alix%20rodgers.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="Vacant and neglected greystones in Chicago’s Oakland neighborhood. (Flickr/Eric Alix Rodgers)" /></div><p>Greystones are to Chicago what brownstones are to Brooklyn. And while many of these stately, limestone-faceted beauties line the grassy boulevards of wealthy North Side neighborhoods, many others exist in a state of neglect, disrepair or abandonment.</p><p>These decrepit greystones are generally located in some South and West Side neighborhoods whose residents were historically deprived of mortgages and subject to redlining. They&#39;re struggling now with low rates of home ownership and high rates of vacancy that have only gotten worse thanks to the real estate collapse. Add to that the stigma that comes from poverty, and you have a recipe for neighborhood neglect.</p><p>The last few years have thus been quite troubling for preservationists and community developers who want to both help struggling neighborhoods and save an iconic part of Chicago&rsquo;s native architecture. One affordable housing developer phrased the essential question this way: &ldquo;How do we start potentially building a market to rebuild interest in greystones and get people into these vacant buildings?&rdquo;</p><p>That developer is Matt Cole, who runs Neighborhood Housing Service&rsquo;s Historic Chicago Greystone Initiative. The program is aimed at preserving, restoring and modernizing these buildings, and NHS offers both educational and financial resources to owners and potential buyers, whether it&rsquo;s advice on how to remodel or affordable loans that make it possible to do a full gut rehab on a neglected two-flat.</p><p>But in addition to these traditional sorts of community development strategies, Cole and his colleagues have turned to a tactic more common in commercial real estate development: neighborhood branding. &nbsp;</p><p>Anyone who&rsquo;s ever been offered an apartment in &ldquo;West Bucktown&rdquo; knows that developers will often rename a gentrifying neighborhood in order to lure a wealthier set of potential buyers. But in this case, Cole and his colleagues focused their efforts on giving stigmatized neighborhoods the kind of narrative that would make existing, long-time residents puff up their chests.</p><p>Their test case was K-Town, a 16-block portion of North Lawndale named for a number of streets &ndash; Karlov, Kildare, Keeler, Kostner, etc. &ndash; that start with the letter &quot;K.&quot;</p><p>K-Town is traditionally lumped in with the rest of Chicago&rsquo;s West Side &ndash; so often described as poor, downtrodden and crime-ridden.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/K-town%20greysones%20google%20maps.jpg" style="height: 345px; width: 620px;" title="Rows of renovated greystones line the street in K-Town. The neighborhood was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2010. (Google Maps)" /></p><p>But this portion of North Lawndale defies that stereotype: It&#39;s actually quite stable, according to Cole, and has a striking share of Chicago&rsquo;s built history. &nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;It is this incredible microcosm of Chicago architecture that really can&rsquo;t be found anywhere else in the city,&rdquo; Cole said. &ldquo;You have fantastic greystones on one side, then workers&rsquo; cottages in the middle. Then also these sort of Dutch gabled buildings on the front &ndash; these two-flats and three-flats that were built in the 1930s &ndash; then bungalows start coming in.&rdquo;</p><p>Two years ago NHS worked with a number of state and local preservation agencies to get K-Town added to the National Register of Historic Places.</p><p>Charles Leeks, NHS&rsquo;s neighborhood director for North Lawndale, says there have not been measurable financial results &ndash; in the form of rising property value or additional homes sold or rehabbed &ndash; since K-Town was added to the National Register. But he said he&#39;s seen a noticeable uptick in neighborhood pride and cohesion.</p><p>&ldquo;The real tangible benefits from [the National Register] have to do with this question of image &ndash; how people began to think about the place and manage it themselves,&rdquo; Leeks said. &ldquo;Once there was this historic district designation, once it was clear, people celebrated that and rallied around that.&rdquo;</p><p>K-Town residents formed what Leeks called a Historic District Committee, which has taken a highly active role in promoting the neighborhood. In addition to developing a strategic plan for K-Town&rsquo;s revitalization, they&rsquo;ve organized neighborhood walking tours &ndash; an unusual feature for an area often cited for its blight.</p><p>They&rsquo;ve also started showing up in housing court. If a vacant building goes on a demolition list, the committee may ask the judge to stay demolition so they can preserve it and work toward finding a buyer.</p><p>Leeks said NHS hasn&rsquo;t brought on any new K-Town buyers in the two years since the neighborhood was added to the National Register (although the organization is currently under contract with two buildings on nearby Douglas Boulevard). &nbsp;</p><p>Instead, the Historic District Committee is turning to what it only half-jokingly calls the &ldquo;K-Town alumni association&rdquo; &ndash; anyone with roots in the neighborhood. &ldquo;They&rsquo;re reaching out to try and get former friends and neighbors to look back &ndash; and move back,&rdquo; Leeks said.</p><p>It&rsquo;s not always easy to get people to see their own neighborhood in a different light, especially if they&rsquo;ve been there &ndash; or been away &ndash; for decades. But Matt Cole said NHS has already helped more than 200 greystone owners buy, keep or repair their buildings since the program was launched in 2006&nbsp;&ndash; an investment of more than $6 million. And they&rsquo;re still hoping to use historic narratives to rebrand neighborhoods and encourage reinvestment. That&rsquo;s why they&#39;re taking a similar approach to another stretch of North Lawndale, the 3300 block of West Flournoy Street. &nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;People are watching this &ndash; people in other parts of the neighborhood,&rdquo; Leeks said. &ldquo;They&rsquo;ve seen what&rsquo;s happening in K-Town and said, &lsquo;Can we do that?&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>You can hear Matt Cole expound more on his group&rsquo;s neighborhood branding strategy in the audio above.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range">Dynamic Range</a></em>&nbsp;<em>showcases hidden gems unearthed from</em>&nbsp;<em><a href="https://soundcloud.com/chicago-amplified/a-conversation-with-u-s">Chicago Amplified&rsquo;s</a></em>&nbsp;<em>vast archive of public events and appears on weekends. Matt Cole spoke at an event presented by the Chicago Architecture Foundation in January. Click</em>&nbsp;<em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/historic-preservation-design-and-cultural-programming-neighborhood-change">here</a>&nbsp;to hear the event in its entirety.</em></p></p> Sat, 09 Mar 2013 08:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/saving-greystones-blood-sweat-and-branding-105992 Alderman accuses bank of ‘redlining’ http://www.wbez.org/news/west-side-alderman-accuses-us-bank-owner-%E2%80%98redlining%E2%80%99-103151 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS5396_Mitts1-scr.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px; float: left; height: 279px; width: 250px; " title="Ald. Emma Mitts, 37th Ward, is angry about a plan by Minneapolis-based U.S. Bancorp to close a branch in her neighborhood. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)" />An alderman on Chicago&rsquo;s struggling West Side is steamed about a plan by Minneapolis-based U.S. Bancorp to close a full-service branch in her neighborhood.</p><p>Ald. Emma Mitts (37th Ward) said the company&rsquo;s decision to shut down its U.S. Bank outlet at 4909 W. Division St. blindsided her. &ldquo;They&rsquo;re leaving high-and-dry with no warning,&rdquo; she said, calling the process &ldquo;disrespectful.&rdquo;</p><p>The branch is an anchor of Austin, a mostly African-American neighborhood hit hard over the years by factory closings and, more recently, home foreclosures.</p><p>But Mitts said there is still plenty of banking business for company officials to keep the branch open. &ldquo;The money is good but they don&rsquo;t want to be in the neighborhood,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s redlining.&rdquo;</p><p>U.S. Bancorp spokesman Tom Joyce bristled at the alderman&rsquo;s accusation. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s off base and unfortunate,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>&ldquo;In 2011, we put more than $152 million into affordable housing and economic development in metropolitan Chicago,&rdquo; Joyce said. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re a proud citizen of the Chicago area and the Austin neighborhood and we&rsquo;ll continue to serve the neighborhood.&rdquo;</p><p>When the branch closes November 16, Joyce added, the company will leave an ATM and start shuttling seniors from that part of Austin to nearby U.S. Bank locations two or three times a month.</p><p>The branch on the chopping block was once part of Park National Bank, a&nbsp;commercial chain owned by Oak Park-based FBOP Corp. The chain was known for charity and investment in low-income areas. U.S. Bancorp acquired FBOP holdings as part of a 2009 federal rescue.</p><p>Austin community groups fought the U.S. Bancorp takeover. In 2011, bowing to pressure from the groups, the company agreed to put hundreds of thousands of dollars into affordable-housing efforts in Austin and Maywood, a nearby suburb.</p><p>U.S. Bancorp says it has 88 branches and 1,600 workers in the Chicago area.</p></p> Tue, 16 Oct 2012 05:51:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/west-side-alderman-accuses-us-bank-owner-%E2%80%98redlining%E2%80%99-103151 Morning parlor game: What was the suspicious package in Zuccotti Park? http://www.wbez.org/blog/justin-kaufmann/2011-11-15/morning-parlor-game-what-was-suspicious-package-zuccotti-park-94050 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-November/2011-11-15/AP111115127685.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-15/AP111115127685.jpg" style="width: 512px; height: 315px;" title="As hard as they spray, it just won't come out (AP) "></p><p>I woke up to the news that the NYPD dropped the hammer last night and removed the protesters and arrested 150 people from Zuccotti Park. Wall Street is no longer occupied. But not so fast says a court order. A court (don't know which one) ordered that the protesters could return with tents if they choose to do so. Protesters did return to the park this morning sans tents, but were evacuated again because of a suspicious package. My guesses at what the package was: 1) New drum 2) Latrine 3) Block of weed.</p><p>The <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/">New York Times is doing a great job this morning covering the breaking news</a>. I mean, if you like typos! C'mon Grey Lady, the whole world is watching..</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" height="128" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-15/NYTimes-everysince-final.jpg" title="Every since? C'mon NYT. Typos is my beat. " width="522"></p><p>A similar story came out of Oakland, where police raided and removed protesters from their camp in front of City Hall. No word on courts there, which probably don't open til 8am. So what does this mean for Occupy Chicago? <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/occupy-chicago-planning-cold-weather-ahead-93995">They have already given up on the idea of occupying Grant Park</a>. They also soured on the idea of creating some sort of tent city. The new plan is to move indoors for the winter. That announcement should be coming soon. But they may want to make that announcement faster than anticipated because other big city mayors have set precedent. It seems it would not be out of public favor to evict Occupy Chicago from LaSalle Street now.</p><p><strong>B story</strong>: We here at WBEZ would like to challenge our local media counterparts. It's a 10 day challenge: How many times can you say the phrase 'Black Friday' before 'Black Friday?' Winner gets Mark Saxenmeyer.</p><p><strong>C story</strong>: Front &amp; Center has a great piece today: <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/food-tourism-sparks-regional-businesses-94041">Could the Great Lakes be the next foodie mecca</a>? I dunno, is there a West Loop in Michigan?</p><p><strong>D story</strong>: <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/recession-worsens-shortage-affordable-rental-housing-94045">Ashley Gross has a good story about affordable rental units in Chicago</a>. DePaul did a study saying there really isn't any. Which might be the worst kept secret in Chicago. Is there anyone who lives here who actually has a two bedroom under a grand? I remember when I first moved to Chicago. It was 1993 and I was in a three bedroom for $650 at the corner of Roscoe and Damen. Is that still avail?</p><p><strong>E story</strong>: <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-ctu-president-apologizes-to-arne-duncan-over-lisp-remark-caught-on-video-20111114,0,5265508.story">Arne Duncan has a lisp</a>? Where have I been?</p><p><strong>F story</strong>: Did you know that Governor Pat Quinn bunked with Texas Governor Rick Perry in Afghanistan? Sounds like the beginning of a sitcom to me!!! Quinn was live on MSNBC today, doing an interview for the show <strike>"Starbucks Live"</strike> Morning Joe:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><object classid="clsid:D27CDB6E-AE6D-11cf-96B8-444553540000" codebase="http://download.macromedia.com/pub/shockwave/cabs/flash/swflash.cab#version=10,0,0,0" height="245" id="msnbc53e466" width="420"><param name="movie" value="http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32545640"><param name="FlashVars" value="launch=45302206&amp;width=420&amp;height=245"><param name="allowScriptAccess" value="always"><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"><param name="wmode" value="transparent"><embed allowfullscreen="true" allowscriptaccess="always" flashvars="launch=45302206&amp;width=420&amp;height=245" height="245" name="msnbc53e466" pluginspage="http://www.adobe.com/shockwave/download/download.cgi?P1_Prod_Version=ShockwaveFlash" src="http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32545640" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="420" wmode="transparent"></object></p><p><strong>Weather</strong>: It's 60!</p><p><strong>Sports</strong>: So really, no basketball? That hurts. Mostly because we will have to look back on this year as the year the Bulls were going to win a championship. Also, we have a very young Derrick Rose. We lose a year of his "I can play 48 minutes straight" ability. Pretty soon, Rose will be Robert Parrish. Then what? Yesterday evening,<a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/justin-kaufmann/2011-11-14/no-nba-heres-list-peoplebusinesses-affected-lockout-hint-end-matador"> I put together a list of businesses affected by no NBA in Chicago</a>. Like those bucket drummers. What are they going to drum in front of now?</p><p><strong>Kicker</strong>: Parking meter graffiti art!!!! This one spotted by colleague Dan Weissman, west of Clark St. on Morse Ave. in Rogers Park:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" height="347" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-15/parkingmeterart.jpg" title="" width="500"></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 15 Nov 2011 14:41:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/justin-kaufmann/2011-11-15/morning-parlor-game-what-was-suspicious-package-zuccotti-park-94050 Recession worsens shortage of affordable rental housing http://www.wbez.org/story/recession-worsens-shortage-affordable-rental-housing-94045 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-November/2011-11-14/3168468197_0c7c1d1344_z.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em>Updated on 11/15/11 at 11:20 a.m.</em></p><p><a href="https://ihs.depaul.edu/reports/CookCountyHousing2011.pdf">A new study</a> shows that Cook County’s persistent shortage of affordable rental housing has gotten even worse in recent years.</p><p>For years, the constraint on affordable housing came from the overheated real estate market. Developers converted apartments to condos, pushing out tenants. But then the recession hit, and people needed to downsize.</p><p>Geoff Smith is executive director of<a href="https://ihs.depaul.edu/ihs/?q=node/3"> DePaul University’s Institute for Housing Studies,</a> which published the report.</p><p>"More people essentially were making less money and needed to access affordable housing," Smith said.</p><p>He says the shortage of affordable rental housing now stands at 180,000 units in Cook County.</p><p>One problem, Smith says, is that banks are more cautious about making loans to people buying smaller apartment buildings – anything with fewer than 100 units.</p><p>"Those make up much of the affordable housing stock in Chicago and Cook County, but they tend to be the types of buildings that are more challenging to finance," Smith said.</p><p>According to the report, more than 97,000 units in multifamily buildings in Cook County have been part of a foreclosure auction.</p><p>The shortage of affordable rental properties is having the greatest impact on less affluent renters, many of whom are forced to pay more than recommended 30 percent of their monthly income for rent.&nbsp;</p><p>According to the study, households needed to make approximately $40,000 per year to afford the county’s median priced two-bedroom apartment, which was $1000 per month in 2010.&nbsp;</p><p>While rents have decreased slightly in Chicago and Cook County since 2008, they are still up overall during the last half of the previous decade.</p><p>The institute predicts the shortage will increase to 233,000 affordable rental units by the end of this decade.</p></p> Tue, 15 Nov 2011 06:01:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/recession-worsens-shortage-affordable-rental-housing-94045