WBEZ | Housing http://www.wbez.org/news/housing Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Don't blame 'evil hipsters.' Broader forces caused gentrification. http://www.wbez.org/programs/takeaway/2015-08-26/dont-blame-evil-hipsters-broader-forces-caused-gentrification-112727 <p><p>Benjamin Grant is urban design policy director at&nbsp;<a href="http://www.spur.org/" target="_blank">SPUR</a>, a leading US&nbsp;civic planning organization. It&#39;s part of his job description to understand the intricacies and complications of gentrification &mdash; a word that gets thrown around by real estate agents as a selling point, and by displaced people as a pejorative term.</p><p>&ldquo;Gentrification is sort of an imprecise term that takes in a lot of different phenomena,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;But broadly speaking, it&rsquo;s a bunch of related processes by which a wealthier, typically whiter, group of people start to move into an urban neighborhood that has historically been a working-class neighborhood or a neighborhood of color in many cases. Prices start to go up, and it&rsquo;s a process that has a lot of different actors and a lot of different forces shaping it, but we give the term gentrification to that process.&rdquo;</p><p>Grant says that it&rsquo;s important to separate the idea of gentrification from the idea of displacement. The latter, he argues, is the inherent problem facing changing urban communities.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s not intrinsically the case that the benefits of investment that come to urban neighborhoods exclude the residents that live there,&rdquo; Grant says. &ldquo;I think in some cases, and with some types of investments, that&rsquo;s true. For example, a high-end restaurant or an exclusive condo built in one of these neighborhoods is certainly not something that&rsquo;s going to be available to the lower-income people that have historically lived there.&rdquo;</p><p>However, Grant says new waves of investment in urban neighborhoods can bring improvements to public safety, to public parks and area schools &mdash; features that benefit a community more broadly. But beyond investment, he argues government can play a role.</p><p>&ldquo;There are a lot of different layers where policy can act,&rdquo; Grant says. &ldquo;Probably the most immediate actor in that space are city planning and economic development departments &mdash; city governments control zoning, regulations about inclusionary housing, and the ability to provide affordable housing that&rsquo;s financed by market rate housing as a way to leverage some of that investment to benefit a broader swath of people.&rdquo;</p><p>In addition to city governments, Grant says regional, state, and federal governments can fight displacement through tax credit financing for affordable housing, and directing expenditures for large infrastructure projects so public money can flow to areas that benefit large swaths of people.</p><p>Still, newcomers to urban areas &mdash; people dubbed &ldquo;yuppies&rdquo; or &ldquo;evil hipsters&rdquo; &mdash; are often accused of ignoring&nbsp;broader communities in favor of their own interests.</p><p>&ldquo;I think that narrative and that set of terms is unfortunate,&rdquo; Grant says. &ldquo;The gentrification process that we see in many cities around the country, it&rsquo;s not something that one group of people is doing to another group of people &mdash; it is a process that is emerging from thousands of individual decisions.&rdquo;</p><p>Grant adds that the narrative of &ldquo;heroes&rdquo; and &ldquo;villains&rdquo; can distort the larger problems facing urban communities around the country.</p><p>&ldquo;We need to understand that in many cities we have a serious housing crisis &mdash; a shortage that is a result of us not providing adequate housing, particularly in the kind of urban, walkable, amenity-rich neighborhoods that people increasingly want to live in,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s important to note that this broader process is a side effect of a very positive change in American cities where, after 85 years of abandoning our cities, people want to live in cities again.&rdquo;</p><p>According the the US&nbsp;Census Bureau, more Americans are living in cities &mdash; almost 200 million in 2013, a 14 percent increase over 2000 &mdash; something Grant considers a positive trend.</p><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s good news for the planet, that&rsquo;s good news for our democracy, I believe, in terms of public space and people living together instead of in isolated houses behind two car garages,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;There are a lot of positive aspects to the American desire to live in cities again. But there are also very real consequences for people that stuck it out or were stuck during the period when we abandoned our cities and let them decline. We need to keep in perspective that this is somewhat a creature of a big picture urban and economic phenomena in this country.&rdquo;</p><p><em>&mdash;<a href="http://www.thetakeaway.org/story/it-gentrification-or-revitalization/" target="_blank">The Takeaway</a></em></p></p> Wed, 26 Aug 2015 10:15:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/takeaway/2015-08-26/dont-blame-evil-hipsters-broader-forces-caused-gentrification-112727 'Zombie' homes give Chicago operators an opportunity http://www.wbez.org/news/zombie-homes-give-chicago-operators-opportunity-112722 <p><p dir="ltr">In early July, Chicago police officers arrested four men for taking over 14 vacant foreclosed homes &mdash; living in some and renting out the rest &mdash; mostly in prosperous neighborhoods. Seven years after the housing market crashed, there are still enough vacant homes to provide opportunities for this kind of creativity.</p><p dir="ltr">Eight of the houses were in Beverly Hills and Morgan Park&mdash; South Side Chicago neighborhoods that look like suburbs, complete with big brick houses, winding streets and a vigilant neighborhood group, the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.bapa.org/" target="_blank">Beverly Area Planning Association</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">One of the homes sits a block and a half from the group&rsquo;s office, on a street the association&rsquo;s executive director, Margot Holland, describes as &ldquo;beautiful,&rdquo; lined with trees and spacious houses.</p><p dir="ltr">The taken-over house fits right in. The white-brick split-level is obviously well cared for, with tidy landscaping and a sign in front indicating that a security system is in place. &ldquo;Yeah, it definitely doesn&rsquo;t look suspicious,&rdquo; Holland says.</p><p dir="ltr">So, how does a tidy home on a beautiful block end up ripe for the picking?</p><p dir="ltr">For help in understanding the context and in sorting through the public records, I turned to Rob Rose, director of the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.cookcountylandbank.org/" target="_blank">Cook County Land Bank Authority</a>. Created in 2013 to help clear a backlog of vacant foreclosed properties, the land bank focuses on a collection of 23,000 tax-delinquent parcels.</p><p dir="ltr">Asked how long it might take him to dispose of all 23,000, Rose has a ready answer: &ldquo;The rest of my life.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">His answer is based on a simple calculation. Rose thinks that clearing 500 properties a year &mdash; by finding new buyers or recommending targeted demolition &mdash; would be a pretty good pace for his small office. At age 44, that would keep him in the job until he&rsquo;s 90.</p><p dir="ltr">However, as a public records search on the taken-over homes shows, there are far more than 23,000 vacant properties.</p><p dir="ltr">None of the eight properties in Beverly and Morgan Park are on Rose&rsquo;s lists, because the property taxes are still being paid, presumably by the lender, as a hedge against forfeiting the parcel in a tax auction.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;This is the most difficult type of property to get to, because there&rsquo;s no immediate red flags,&rdquo; Rose says.</p><p dir="ltr">For the split-level, records show foreclosure started three years ago, but the lender hasn&rsquo;t taken title. That&rsquo;s about average in Illinois, which has more protections for homeowners than many states.</p><p dir="ltr">According to Daren Blomquist, vice president of the real-estate analytics company&nbsp;<a href="http://www.realtytrac.com/" target="_blank">RealtyTrac</a>, that delay means a foreclosed home in Illinois is more likely to be abandoned. &ldquo;The longer it&rsquo;s in that process, the better the chance that the homeowner is just leaving the property.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Nationally, RealtyTrac counts about 127 thousand of these&nbsp;<a href="http://www.realtytrac.com/news/tag/zombie-foreclosures/" target="_blank">&ldquo;zombie properties&rdquo; stuck in foreclosure indefinitely</a>. &ldquo;When you consider that at any given time, there&rsquo;s probably a couple million homes for sale, this isn&rsquo;t an overwhelming number of properties,&rdquo; Blomquist says. &ldquo;Compared to overall inventory nationally, it really is a drop in the bucket. I think this really is a neighborhood issue.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">But even in a nice neighborhood, a few zombies here and there can provide an opening for creative operators.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>&mdash; <a href="http://www.marketplace.org/topics/economy/zombie-homes-give-chicago-operators-opportunity">via Marketplace</a></em></p></p> Tue, 25 Aug 2015 12:03:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/zombie-homes-give-chicago-operators-opportunity-112722 Obama administration announces new housing segregation rules http://www.wbez.org/news/obama-administration-announces-new-housing-segregation-rules-112345 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Julian-Castro-AP.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em><strong style="font-weight: bold; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51); letter-spacing: normal; orphans: auto; text-align: start; text-indent: 0px; text-transform: none; white-space: normal; widows: 1; word-spacing: 0px; -webkit-text-stroke-width: 0px;"><span style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 20px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51); background-color: rgb(249, 249, 249);">▲&nbsp;</span>LISTEN </strong>The head of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro was in Chicago Wednesday to announce a new rule to help communities across the country meet fair housing obligations. WBEZ&rsquo;s South Side Bureau reporter Natalie Moore attended the event and joined host Melba Lara to explain what it may mean for Chicago.</em></p><p>The nation&#39;s head of urban housing policy announced new regulations Wednesday aimed at fulfilling promises of the 1968 Fair Housing Act by promoting racially integrated neighborhoods.</p><p>&quot;The truth is for too long federal efforts have often fallen short,&quot; Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro said at a news conference next to new public housing apartments and a playground on Chicago&#39;s South Side.</p><p>Besides banning outright discrimination, the 1968 law required cities that receive federal housing money to promote equal opportunity and access to housing regardless of race, origin, religion, sex or disability. But little was done at the time or in the years since to explain precisely what the law&#39;s requirement to &quot;affirmatively further&quot; such goals meant or how to achieve that.</p><p>The Obama administration&#39;s changes aim to provide cities with specific guidance and reams of data on integration and segregation patterns, racially and ethnically concentrated areas of poverty and areas of high housing need.</p><p>Communities will be required to set goals based on the data for smarter investments in housing, schools and transportation that will be closely monitored, Castro said. The new rules will be phased in, though no timetable was announced.</p><p>The new initiative recognizes that half a century after the height of the civil rights movement, parts of America remain divided along racial lines when it comes to access to affordable housing in good neighborhoods with decent schools, public transportation, jobs, grocery stores and opportunity.</p><p>&quot;Where a child grows up shouldn&#39;t dictate where they end up,&quot; Castro said.</p><p>To illustrate the persistent inequality, he cited data showing that a child in the Jeff-Vander-Lou neighborhood of St. Louis can expect to live 18 fewer years than one 10 miles away in the suburb of Clayton, Missouri.</p><p>From Chicago to Ferguson, Missouri, to Baltimore, people remain physically divided, said Philip Nyden, who studies segregated neighborhoods.</p><p>&quot;This is the federal government saying &#39;This can&#39;t continue to go on,&#39; &quot; said Nyden, director of the Center for Urban Research and Learning at Chicago&#39;s Loyola University.</p><p>He called the announcement a good step, though he cautioned against any expectation of quick results, given that the problem is so entrenched.</p><p>Mayor Rahm Emanuel, speaking alongside Castro, said it was no coincidence Chicago was chosen as a backdrop for the announcement, given the city&#39;s history of using housing policy and real estate practices to keep blacks confined to poor neighborhoods.</p><p>&quot;We have a long history as it relates to fair housing,&quot; Emanuel said while standing at the site of what was once Stateway Gardens, one of the city&#39;s neglected high-rise public housing projects. Chicago demolished it and the other projects in the late 1990s and early 2000s.</p><p>On Wednesday, Emanuel cut the ribbon on the latest low-rise apartment building to replace Stateway on what&#39;s now known as Park Boulevard, an example of the new kind of public housing developments that federal officials are promoting.</p><p>The development, open to people of various income levels and with a mix of homeowners and renters, is dotted with town house-style buildings, neatly landscaped walkways, playgrounds and open spaces.</p><p>Most importantly, Emanuel said, a vibrant area of opportunity is developing around the complex.</p><p>Retailers, including a Starbucks, have moved in. To the west is U.S. Cellular Field, home of the Chicago White Sox; to the east is a math and sciences charter school; and just to the north is the Illinois Institute of Technology. Three commuter train lines shuttle residents downtown and toward higher-paying jobs.</p><p>Roberta Wright, 44, loves the area. She lives there with her two adult children, a son who&#39;s in the Army and a daughter attending Illinois State University.</p><p>&quot;I have some great neighbors. It&#39;s really diverse. So that&#39;s a plus for me,&quot; she said. &quot;There&#39;s not a lot of riffraff.&quot;</p></p> Wed, 08 Jul 2015 14:13:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/obama-administration-announces-new-housing-segregation-rules-112345 Mumford and Sons' concert displaces homeless http://www.wbez.org/sections/lifestyle/mumford-and-sons-concert-displaces-homeless-112222 <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/row-of-orange-.jpg" style="float: right; height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="(WBEZ/Melissa Muto)" /></div><p dir="ltr">Advocates say a delayed outdoor rock concert in Chicago&rsquo;s Uptown neighborhood has created uncertainty about if and when a homeless encampment can return to the area.</p><p><strong>One woman&#39;s journey from under the bridge and back:</strong><iframe frameborder="no" height="20" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/212139049&amp;color=ff5500&amp;inverse=false&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_user=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p dir="ltr">For months now, a line of nearly 20 tents in orange and blue have lined both sides of Wilson Avenue under the Lake Shore Drive bridge. That&rsquo;s where about 40 homeless people have been living and had formed a makeshift community. There was a similar encampment under the Lawrence Avenue viaduct. Each person or family had an unofficial space, surrounding their tents with belongings including wheeled carts, camping chairs and even a full-sized grill that some of the men took turns cooking on.</p><p dir="ltr">But all of that changed earlier this week in advance of a Mumford and Sons concert that is expected to draw thousands to nearby Montrose Beach. Originally scheduled for Wednesday, the concert was postponed until Friday.</p><p dir="ltr">On Tuesday, city workers ordered the homeless people to leave so they could clean the area. The workers also threw away many of the people&rsquo;s belongings, including blankets and clothing, in what advocates call a violation of city policy.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;You know, it&rsquo;s like we&rsquo;re not people, like our stuff doesn&rsquo;t matter,&rdquo; said a homeless woman named Susan, who declined to give her last name. &ldquo;We&rsquo;ve got nowhere to go. We&rsquo;re just trying to live.&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://llnw.wbez.org/insert-images/G-truck-and-red-sign_0.jpg" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/G-truck-and-red-sign_0.jpg" style="float: left; height: 377px; width: 620px;" title="(WBEZ/Melissa Muto)" /></a></div></div><p dir="ltr">Susan said she was devastated about losing her blankets: &ldquo;They&rsquo;re even expensive at the secondhand store when they&rsquo;re half-off. It gets cold out here &mdash; we were freezing in May.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Clearing out a viaduct under a bridge isn&rsquo;t unusual: The city routinely asks people who are homeless to leave for short periods of time so they can clean the area.</p><p dir="ltr">But advocates say it was different this time. They charge the city violated its own policy for handling the personal property of the homeless.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;There&rsquo;s an <a href="http://www.chicagohomeless.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/City-Policy-and-Procedures-Governing-Off-Street-Cleaning.pdf">agreement</a> that before property&rsquo;s thrown out, people should get notice if there&rsquo;s a problem with the property and have time to do something with the property,&rdquo;said Patricia Nix-Hodes, an attorney for the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless. &ldquo;That didn&rsquo;t happen.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Workers put up a sign saying the cleanup would start at 10 a.m. Tuesday. Instead, a team of ten city workers arrived in a van around 9. They said they were following city orders to clean the area and were instructed to throw out anything in their way. Some bags, carts, and boxes were still under the viaduct.</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/Marcus-Cart-CU.jpg" style="height: 400px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="(WBEZ/Melissa Muto)" /></div><p dir="ltr">Rene Heybach, another attorney for the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, said she told the workers they were early for the cleanup and to stop what they were doing. They reportedly refused.</p><p dir="ltr">She said she told them they were in violation of the city agreement. But Heybach said that none of the workers she spoke to Tuesday had been properly trained in that protocol, and none of them, including the supervisor, had even heard of it.</p><p dir="ltr">The supervisor on the ground did order her staff to weed whack and cut the lawn first to give people more time to remove their things.</p><p dir="ltr">But Heybach said the city&rsquo;s approach to clearing the area this week was disorganized and confusing. She said they created an emergency situation and added undue stress while not offering any help for the situation.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Everyone is saying different things, they are not coordinating,&rdquo; said Heybach, &ldquo;Everyone&rsquo;s been confused and remains confused.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Susan, the homeless woman who lost her blankets in the cleaning, said workers put up signs with Tuesday&rsquo;s date for the street cleaning. But she said they told her a day earlier that she had to leave, and that she&rsquo;d only have to leave for a day.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;They changed their story, they are trying to get us messed up so we lose all our stuff,&rdquo; Susan said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s like we&rsquo;re not people, like we don&rsquo;t exist.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Susan, who said she struggles with anxiety, PTSD, neuropathy and other medical conditions, was a single parent and ran a daycare before becoming homeless.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It&rsquo;s embarrassing that life can get this low,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re not bad people, we&rsquo;re just homeless.&rdquo; &nbsp;</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/from-hill-USE.jpg" style="float: left; height: 470px; width: 620px;" title="(WBEZ/Melissa Muto)" /></div><p dir="ltr">Attorney Rene Heybach said the Department of Family and Support Services was supposed to help transport some of the homeless people and their items to a nearby safe location. The city agreement says the DFSS &ldquo;will lead the City&rsquo;s contact with homeless persons during the cleanings.&rdquo; &nbsp;But she said DFSS didn&rsquo;t arrive until after the other city crews were already there and clearing the area.</p><p dir="ltr">DFSS spokesman Matt Smith said the department&rsquo;s team is trained in the procedure for handling homeless people&rsquo;s belongings, which includes notification so there&rsquo;s &ldquo;ample time to prepare and remove their possessions from the area being cleaned.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">He said this cleaning was different than routine monthly ones because multiple other city services were involved. The size of the concert also made it necessary for people living under the bridge to leave the area for a longer time period. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Smith said the show is expected to draw thousands and will bring a lot of foot traffic there. He said having tents and people blocking the sidewalks would present a health and public safety issue.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;What I believe we are going to be doing is taking tents or possessions or anything that shouldn&rsquo;t be here &hellip; and taking them to a shelter and inventorying them,&rdquo; Smith said. &ldquo;If they want to reclaim those items later, they can make arrangements with our staff to do so.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">But by the time DFSS arrived, workers from other departments had cleaned out all but a few items remaining beneath the viaduct.</p><p dir="ltr">DFSS encouraged people to sign up for a system that determines eligibility for supportive housing. The Salvation Army showed up to offer their services too. But Smith said even though people were offered shelter, the city can&rsquo;t force them to take it.</p><p dir="ltr">Susan says she was abused in a local homeless shelter, and doesn&rsquo;t want to go back.</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/Latia-Sleeping-2.jpg" style="float: right; height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="(WBEZ/Melissa Muto)" /></div><p dir="ltr">People who&rsquo;d been living under the bridge spent Tuesday spreading their remaining belongings on the grass and over benches at a nearby park to dry out from a rainstorm. Some did go to shelters, while others found temporary housing with family.</p><p dir="ltr">But several of them have spent the week sleeping in the open on blankets and mats. They said DFSS had found them temporary storage for their stuff at a nearby CVS.</p><p dir="ltr">Susan had planned to join them in the park, but said she was afraid to sleep out in the open like that. She found temporary shelter across town instead.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t want to just lay on the ground on top of blankets, I&rsquo;m a woman, I need privacy,&rdquo; Susan said. &ldquo;Every other woman (who lives) down there has a man, or husband or someone to protect them. I don&rsquo;t.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">But like many of the others, Susan plans to return to her spot under the bridge as soon as she can.</p><p>It&rsquo;s unclear when, or if, that will happen. Thursday, a representative from the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless said she had not heard back from the city on whether the homeless people could return after the concert.</p><p><em>Melissa Muto is a WBEZ Pritzker Journalism Fellow.</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 19 Jun 2015 13:56:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/sections/lifestyle/mumford-and-sons-concert-displaces-homeless-112222 Emanuel nominates new housing authority CEO http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-nominates-new-housing-authority-ceo-112153 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/050415_EugeneJones_027c_editweb.jpeg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago officials have nominated the former CEO of the Toronto Community Housing Corporation as the acting leader of the Chicago Housing Authority.</p><p>Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced the nomination of Eugene Jones last week. He&#39;ll replace Michael Merchant who leaving the post for other opportunities.</p><p>Chicago officials praised Jones&#39; experience working for housing authorities in several major cities including Detroit, San Francisco and New Orleans.</p><p>CHA is renovating housing complexes in the city. The agency says it will invest $240 million this year to build affordable housing units across the city.</p></p> Mon, 08 Jun 2015 09:20:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-nominates-new-housing-authority-ceo-112153 Future of former Finkl Steel site puts heat on new alderman http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/future-former-finkl-steel-site-puts-heat-new-alderman-112119 <p><p>Around Lincoln Park and Bucktown this summer, neighbors have been talking about a zoning designation.</p> <p>It may not seem like the hottest topic of conversation at first. But when more than 30 acres of land left by an old manufacturing plant are up for grabs, developers, homeowners, nonprofits, neighborhood groups, and others can let their imaginations run wild about the best and highest possible use. Many are even calling it a &ldquo;once in a lifetime opportunity.&rdquo;</p> <p>Here in Chicago, it&rsquo;s the responsibility of the alderman to figure out just how to balance all those passionate interests and ideas. &nbsp;And in the 2nd ward, this big opportunity falls in the lap of a brand new alderman, who&rsquo;s still trying to move out of his campaign office.</p> <p>&ldquo;I am looking forward to leading a community-focused process to find out what the neighborhood wants,&rdquo; Ald. Brian Hopkins said, sitting at his desk in what used to be a closet in his campaign office.</p> <p>But the neighborhood is way ahead of him. When the A. Finkl &amp; Sons steel plant opened its new facility on the South Side in 2011, it left about 30 acres of land in its old North Side home, inspiring many neighborhood conversations about possible congestion fixes, industry, retail development or housing. But one of the biggest questions at the core of all these ideas, is whether the land the steel plant and surrounding buildings sits on should stay as a &ldquo;planned manufacturing district&rdquo; or PMD, which protects industry from any encroaching non-manufacturing development.</p> <p>Mike Holzer was on the team that helped come up with that zoning tool. In the late 1980s, he was a graduate school intern at what&rsquo;s now <a href="http://northbranchworks.org/">North Branch Works</a>, a nonprofit that&rsquo;s worked with Finkl and other local industries for decades. At the time, Lincoln Park was a hot spot for yuppies--a new term then--who were looking for places to live that would be an easy commute to their downtown jobs. As the yuppies moved in, retail and residential development quickly followed.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;This area could have very easily been lost if not for firms like Finkl, <a href="http://www.sipimetals.com/">SIPI Metals </a>and other firms that basically said if unchecked, zoning changes will lead to us being displaced and is that really something you want, city fathers?&rdquo; Holzer said. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Fast forward to now, and there are a number of these industrial districts along the Chicago River and Kennedy Expressway on the city&rsquo;s North Side. And as the plans for the old Finkl site start to bubble up, Holzer and the North Branch Works team want to make sure the zoning stays that way - for the benefit of the entire city.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;One horse towns like Detroit that put all their eggs in one basket really struggled, and Chicago, because it has a broadly diversified economy, it has not struggled, it is in fact growing,&rdquo; Holzer said.</p><p dir="ltr">Holzer and his team put forth a pretty compelling argument, complete with employment data, an area study paid for by the Environmental Protection Agency, and a transportation plan down to the last parking spot. But as they&rsquo;ve taken their pitch on the road to community meetings, it&rsquo;s obvious that they&rsquo;re not the only residents with ideas for those open acres. And many of those ideas are passionate and researched.</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/finkl2_picmonkeyed.jpg" style="height: 447px; width: 620px;" title="The remnants of the old Finkl steel plant that’s currently being demolished. The company moved from the Northside to the South Side. (WBEZ/Lauren Chooljian)" /></div><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;How in the world is so much river access, which could be fantastic for citizenry, how is it so decrepit, how has it come to this? It&rsquo;s simply inaccessible to citizens of Chicago,&rdquo; said Scott Nations, a local homeowner and former Ranch Triangle neighborhood group president.</p><p dir="ltr">Nations <a href="http://www.ranchtriangle.org/The%20Future%20of%20the%20Clybourn%20Corridor%20PMD.pdf">said </a>he wants the city to open up the Finkl land to all kinds of developers, including residential. He&rsquo;s not looking for anything too crazy, but suggests some low-density housing and some open space -- which means get rid of the PMD.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I live in this city because it&rsquo;s not homogenous,&rdquo; Nations said. &ldquo;If I wanted the same thing block after block after block, I&rsquo;d probably live in the suburbs. Mixed used makes the best sense.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Nations and current president Randy Steinmeyer say it&rsquo;s not that they&rsquo;re against industry; in fact, they&rsquo;d like to see something similar or connected to the UI Labs open up in the old Finkl zone. But in their opinion, the PMD didn&rsquo;t work like it should have, or else Finkl and other manufacturers wouldn&rsquo;t have left.</p><p dir="ltr">Steinmeyer said he wishes Ald. Hopkins luck with this &ldquo;political hot potato.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t envy the man, unfortunately. I&rsquo;m sure he&rsquo;s being swarmed by developers as we speak,&rdquo; he said.</p><p dir="ltr">Some of that pressure hit Hopkins before he was even elected. A search into state campaign records turns up a number of names of donors who are also developers -- developers who have publicly voiced interest in the Finkl site. Two of the current landowners, Bruce Liimatainen and Joseph Curci, who are also former Finkl administrators, and their wives gave the then-candidate Hopkins $28,000. Hopkins also received $10,000 from the property owners of former A. Lakin and Sons company, which sits right next to the old Finkl site and <a href="http://chicago.curbed.com/archives/2015/05/12/heres-more-info-on-the-finkl-steel-property-that-has-just-listed.php">is also for sale</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">Hopkins said many contributions came in to the campaign during the last few weeks, and that he has a &ldquo;strong posture of neutrality when it comes to potential development of that site. I know there&rsquo;s a lot of competing interests.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I come to the table with no preconceived biases whatsoever, I am truly a neutral party in all this. I didn&rsquo;t have any allegiances with any of the companies we&rsquo;re talking about, with any of the developers who are trying to acquire the land,&rdquo; he said.</p><p dir="ltr">As a new alderman, Hopkins has decisions ahead that won&rsquo;t just have ramifications for the Finkl project. They&rsquo;ll also give residents a window into his vision for the ward&rsquo;s future. And from the sounds of things, he&rsquo;s starting to hammer out that position:</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We need to be open to new ideas. And a planned manufacturing district is almost like a set of handcuffs. You know, it really limits what you can do. We don&rsquo;t need limits right now,&rdquo; Hopkins said.</p> <p>The alderman can be sure there will be a lot of people in Lincoln Park this summer with something to say about that.</p> <p><em>Lauren Chooljian is a WBEZ City Politics reporter. Follow her&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/laurenchooljian">@laurenchooljian</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 02 Jun 2015 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/future-former-finkl-steel-site-puts-heat-new-alderman-112119 South Siders lobby for promises in writing as Obama library takes shape http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/south-siders-lobby-promises-writing-obama-library-takes-shape-112090 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/nm community benefits.PNG" alt="" /><p><p>The Obama Foundation has yet to choose which South Side park will host the president&rsquo;s library.</p><p>But whether it&rsquo;s Washington Park or Jackson Park, nearby residents are already dreaming big about the potential ripple effects. They want jobs and housing &mdash; and they want it in writing.</p><p>&ldquo;Think about it,&rdquo; chuckled Sandra Bivins of the 51st Street Business Association. &ldquo;You learn over the years that you need contractual agreements with folks or else they&rsquo;re not going to keep their word.&rdquo;</p><p>Bivins speaks from experience.</p><p>Chicago was one of a handful of cities that received $100 million in neighborhood empowerment zone funding under the Clinton Administration.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;What we didn&rsquo;t do at that time or what we didn&rsquo;t understand at that time is that once you lay out the groundwork and they say &lsquo;okay cool, this is cool,&rsquo; how do you get them to follow the agreement that they made with you?&rdquo;</p><p>Years after the city doled out those federal funds, researchers found the money didn&rsquo;t help some of the most impoverished neighborhoods. Politically connected groups reaped most of the rewards. Residents learned they can&rsquo;t always trust city hall to make sure the community gets its fair share.</p><p>Bivins is part of a South Side coalition pushing for a formal community benefits agreement, or CBA.</p><p>University of Illinois at Chicago professor Rachel Weber studies CBAs, which started in California.</p><p>&ldquo;These were attempts to have community organizations often in a coalition negotiate a separate and legally binding agreement with the developer over some large-scale redevelopment project,&rdquo; Weber said.</p><p>In exchange for certain provisions, community groups agree to get behind the project.</p><p>The first successful CBAs were negotiated in Los Angeles. In 1998 there was the Hollywood and Highland Center, home to the Oscars. Then a CBA attached to the Staples Center, home of the Lakers, ensured jobs for affected residents and affordable housing.</p><p>Despite talk of one during the failed 2016 Olympics bid, Chicago has never had a successful CBA.</p><p>But more than 10 miles south of downtown, another group is trying to change that.</p><p>A newly paved path on 87th and Lake Shore Drive used to be steel mills. When the industry shut down decades ago, this part of the city experienced major decline.</p><p>Now, the brownfield is slowly turning green with a postcard-worthy view in a new park that&rsquo;s a tribute to the former steel workers. Grassy knolls overlooking Lake Michigan are perfect for a summer picnic.</p><p>&ldquo;This is prime real estate,&rdquo; said resident Arnold Bradford. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re right on the lakefront. This is probably one of the best development sites right now in the city of Chicago. You can look downtown, you can see the skyline you can look to Indiana.&rdquo;</p><p>The colossal development he&rsquo;s referring to is called <a href="http://chicagolakesidedevelopment.com/the-site" target="_blank">Lakeside</a>, stretching between the 7th and 10th wards. The mix of retail, residential and commercial space will be bigger than the Loop and take decades to build.</p><p>Longtime residents like Yvette Moyo want a say in the process.</p><p>&ldquo;My father worked here, my brother worked here. I&rsquo;m sort of representing the families of union workers or U.S. steelworkers who feel that we have our DNA right here in this soil,&rdquo; Moyo said.</p><p>Bradford and Moyo are members of the <a href="https://asechicago.files.wordpress.com/2014/03/draft-cba-language.pdf">Coalition for a Lakeside Community Benefits Agreement</a>.</p><p>Amalia NietoGomez is the group&rsquo;s coordinator and said the coalition doesn&rsquo;t oppose the development as long as they&rsquo;re included.</p><p>&ldquo;All the skyscrapers that are downtown were built by steel mills that were on the Southeast Side and right now this area has 17 percent unemployment; it has 30 percent poverty levels. We want to return the Southeast Side back to its glory days when local people were employed, and families built generations in the houses that were here,&rdquo; NietoGomez said.</p><p>It&rsquo;s unclear whether residents will be able to negotiate CBAs over Lakeside and the Obama library. Representatives for both projects declined to comment.</p><p>UIC&rsquo;s Weber said one reason Chicago hasn&rsquo;t had a successful CBA is because the city thinks tax increment financing, or TIF, plans do the job.</p><p>&ldquo;In these 100-page documents that are signed whenever there&rsquo;s some sort of allocation of TIF funding, you&rsquo;ll see a whole section in a redevelopment agreement that lists these community benefits,&rdquo; Weber said.</p><p>But that&rsquo;s not going far enough for these South Siders.</p><p>They want to be the ones driving negotiations for community benefits.&nbsp;</p><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;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> Tue, 26 May 2015 18:24:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/south-siders-lobby-promises-writing-obama-library-takes-shape-112090 A Chicago community puts mixed-income housing to the test http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-community-puts-mixed-income-housing-test-111502 <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/corley_lathrop_slide-0d583b1bfac0b67299b9c261b1650cb792b085c6-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="A resident of Lathrop Homes leaves one of the few occupied buildings in the development. The city wants to redevelop the public housing as mixed use, and offered vouchers to encourage residents to relocate. (Cheryl Corley/NPR)" /></div><p>Right next to the Chicago River on the city&#39;s North Side,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.preservationchicago.org/userfiles/file/lathrop.pdf" target="_blank">Lathrop Homes</a>, with its black, white and Latino residents, is considered the city&#39;s most diverse public housing.</p><p>It&#39;s also on the National Register of Historic Places. And with 925 low-rise units on about 30 acres, it&#39;s big. But these days, only a fraction of those apartments are occupied.</p><p>Miguel Suarez has lived in Lathrop Homes for 25 years. He says the Chicago Housing Authority offered people housing vouchers to move elsewhere when they decided that Lathrop would be rehabbed &mdash; part of a massive effort to revamp public housing in the city.</p><p>But residents at Lathrop say they don&#39;t live in a distressed neighborhood that needs change &mdash; so they are fighting to keep their homes intact.</p><p><strong>The New Face Of Public Housing</strong></p><p>It&#39;s been two decades since&nbsp;<a href="http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/public_indian_housing/programs/ph/hope6/about" target="_blank">the federal government&#39;s HOPE VI Program</a>&nbsp;offered public housing authorities around the nation money to tear down blighted public housing projects.</p><p>Across the country, cities used it as an opportunity to experiment with breaking up pockets of poverty. They replaced the housing projects with &quot;mixed-income housing,&quot; where people who have money live next door to people who don&#39;t.</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/hoffman_20150202_0121_slide-b7d970c1198627b1f04402ec2e0a48f1be72cf7c-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 266px; width: 400px; float: right;" title="Nivea Sandoval is a 30-year resident of the Lathrop Homes. She feels Chicago Housing Authority is neglecting residents, but still wants to live here because of the strong community. (Peter Hoffman for NPR)" /></div><p>But mixed-income housing changes the profile of a city &mdash; and it&#39;s often controversial. The Chicago Housing Authority, or CHA, launched a massive program in 1999, promising to tear down troubled high rises and rehab or rebuild 25,000 units of public housing.</p><p>&quot;Our interest, and the CHA&#39;s interest, is in making a vital, vibrant mixed-income community here,&quot; says Jacques Sandberg, a vice president at Related Midwest, one of the developers involved in revamping Lathrop Homes.</p><p><strong>The Lathrop Homes Plan</strong></p><p>Suarez, who is semi-retired, is the chairperson of a group of residents called the Lathrop Leadership Team. During a driving tour of the neighborhood, he points out how all of the three-story apartment buildings and smaller row houses on the northern side of the development are boarded up and fenced in.</p><p>Throughout the development, arched colonnades connect the buildings and sweeping snow-covered lawns. There&#39;s lots of new pricey housing surrounding Lathrop, and plenty of businesses and stores.</p><p>Suarez says he knows why there&#39;s a push for change. &quot;It&#39;s moving the poor out and bringing the rich in,&quot; he says. &quot;Gentrification &mdash; &#39;We don&#39;t care where you go, just get the hell out, because we want this.&#39; &quot;</p><p>That&#39;s the fight when it comes to mixed-income housing: determining the right mix of incomes &mdash; and how many public housing residents get to return to a refurbished development.</p><p>The latest plan for a redeveloped Lathrop Homes calls for one-half of the historic development to be torn down and the rest rehabbed. The new Lathrop would include 500 market-rate condos and townhouses, but only about 200 low-income or affordable apartments and 400 public housing units, down from the current 925.</p><p>It&#39;s controversial, and developer Jacques Sandberg says creating mixed-income neighborhoods can be difficult.</p><p>&quot;There are people who have legitimate positions that have to be reconciled,&quot; he says. &quot;Sometimes they are at odds and are fundamentally irreconcilable, and there are people&#39;s lives at stake.&quot;</p><p><strong>The Fight For Lathrop</strong></p><p>A group of Lathrop residents say they aren&#39;t on board with the plans for their home. Lathrop Advisory Council member Cynthia Scott, a former receptionist who is on disability benefits now, says it has been frustrating to hear developers and others talk about &quot;concentrated poverty&quot; and how Lathrop Homes is isolated from the rest of the neighborhood.</p><p>&quot;If you go outside this community, everybody else&#39;s community is gated. We are not gated,&quot; she says. &quot;People walk their dogs around here. Our parks are open; their parks are closed. So who&#39;s to say we are not an open community?&quot;</p><p>Recent home sales near Lathrop range from $500,000 to about $1 million. Titus Kerby, the Lathrop Advisory Council&#39;s president, says the plan for Lathrop means hundreds of public housing residents won&#39;t be able to return to a thriving neighborhood that&#39;s already mixed-income.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img 400="" 525="" a="" actually="" affordable="" alderman="" allow="" alt="" and="" are="" back="" be="" bring="" bringing="" calls="" chicago="" class="image-original_image" committed="" community="" development="" displaced="" even="" for="" fund="" generally="" gives="" going="" have="" he="" helps="" here="" hoffman="" homes="" housing="" if="" in="" is="" it="" joe="" lathrop="" live="" located="" market-rate="" mixed-income="" more="" moreno="" moreno.="" most="" must="" new="" next="" north="" of="" on="" only="" or="" other="" our="" p="" peter="" plan.="" position="" proco="" project="" public="" residents="" s="" says="" sense="" setting="" side="" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/hoffman_20150202_0342_slide-1046437b7d8ee761a2284eebfdb2118b718334e4-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" t="" that="" the="" title="J.L. Gross walks along a river pathway near the Lathrop Homes. He has lived in the development for 27 years and cherishes Lathrop because " to="" units="" us="" wants="" ward="" what="" who="" will="" you="" /><p>&quot;I know it sounds a little utopia &mdash; that a public housing resident comes in, gets to affordable rent and gets to an affordable purchase and then, maybe, perhaps gets unrestricted,&quot; Moreno says, &quot;but it&#39;s not without precedent. And if we don&#39;t provide the opportunity, it&#39;s not going to happen.&quot;</p><p><strong>Mixed-Income Housing Results</strong></p><p>Studies of Chicago&#39;s existing mixed-income housing&nbsp;show that public housing residents in the new developments are doing better, while most who had to move elsewhere still live in segregated, high-poverty neighborhoods.</p><p>Lawrence Vale, an urban studies professor at MIT, has studied mixed-income housing in Chicago and other cities. &quot;There are lots of assumptions about what the new neighborhoods should do to help low-income residents find role models or better social networks,&quot; he says, &quot;but the empirical evidence of that has been scant.&quot;</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/hoffman_20150202_0237_slide-e95d9a6b3dc1c539910510a01535729a38219c2e-s800-c85_0.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="The main office for the Lathrop Homes public housing complex in Chicago. One resident says the redevelopment plan for the complex is just more gentrification in the city. (Peter Hoffman for NPR)" /></div><p>But there are some aspects of mixed-income housing that are promising, Vale says.</p><p>&quot;There&#39;s a sense of people finding enhanced security, increased investment in the surrounding neighborhoods and higher expectations for the management when they have the pressure of people putting more of their own money into payments,&quot; he says.</p><p>The Chicago Housing Authority says construction at Lathrop could begin by spring of 2016, and that it plans to update residents soon. If Lathrop does indeed become a mixed-income community as planned, even its developers say it may take years to determine how it functions as a neighborhood &mdash; and whether a new Lathrop is a success.</p></div></div><p>- <em>via <a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/02/05/381886102/a-chicago-community-puts-mixed-income-housing-to-the-test">NPR&#39;s Cities Project</a></em></p></p> Thu, 05 Feb 2015 09:28:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-community-puts-mixed-income-housing-test-111502 Rents may be going up, but residents say they're not going anywhere http://www.wbez.org/news/rents-may-be-going-residents-say-theyre-not-going-anywhere-111269 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Land-trust-2.png" style="height: 240px; width: 320px; margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px; float: left;" title="(from right) Arturo Chavez and his roommate, Jorge Herrera, share an apartment for $700 a month in Albany Park. A new building owner is evicting them to convert the units into upscale rentals." />There&rsquo;s a fight brewing in Albany Park over who gets to live there.</p><p>Arturo Chavez would like to stay in the North Side neighborhood, where he&rsquo;s lived for roughly three years &mdash; but that seems increasingly unlikely.</p><p>&ldquo;I go around in a car, looking for places,&rdquo; he says, speaking in Spanish. &ldquo;I see ads, and I call the numbers. Some places were being remodeled. I was told they were going to rent it, but later they told me they had already leased it to family members.&rdquo;</p><p>Chavez is one of the few remaining tenants of 3001 W Lawrence Avenue, a courtyard apartment building with 32 units. In August, new owners bought the building and notified its tenants that they were all to be evicted. The plan is to gut rehab the units and turn them into upscale rentals.</p><p>Inside, ceiling pipes have started to leak and parts of the walls are falling off. Chavez, a car mechanic who has been fighting for workers compensation since he was injured last year on the job, knows he&rsquo;ll have to leave soon. But he says he hasn&rsquo;t been able to find another place nearby that comes close to the $700 monthly rent he pays now.</p><p>&ldquo;The rents are too high and that means people are being separated and they&rsquo;re moving to areas farther away,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Antonio Gutierrez, an organizer with the community group Centro Autonomo in Albany Park, says scores of low-income Albany Park residents have been pushed out in recent years. Just like Chavez, they&rsquo;ve been unable to keep up with the rising rents and property values in some areas.</p><p>&ldquo;I would say about 40 percent of them, they ended up having to leave Albany Park and having to move outside the city to suburbs,&rdquo; said Gutierrez.</p><p>Between 2011 and 2013, the median home price in Albany Park rose almost 40 percent. Gutierrez says after the recession, speculators flocked back to the neighborhood, buying foreclosed homes and driving up property values.</p><p>So last year, Centro Autonomo decided to try a creative idea to bolster affordable properties in the neighborhood: it created a &ldquo;community land trust&rdquo; called Casas del Pueblo. The land trust is a non-profit entity that will acquire properties in the neighborhood, then rent them out.</p><p>&ldquo;(The rent) would just be the taxes for the property, the insurance for the property and a maintenance fee,&rdquo; Gutierrez explained. &ldquo;And they can stay there for as long as they want.&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Albany-Park-Median-Home-Sales-Price-Median-Sales-Price_chartbuilder.png" style="height: 349px; width: 620px;" title="" /></div><p>The concept of community land trusts is not new to the Chicago area. Gutierrez&rsquo;s variety is a slight twist on something that&rsquo;s been tried before, just a few miles south, in West Humboldt Park.</p><p>There, three, red brick single family homes sit on a residential street next to the noisy Union Pacific rail line.</p><p>&ldquo;The homeowners say the walls were built in a way it&rsquo;s not really bothersome,&rdquo; said William Howard, former Executive Director of the West Humboldt Park Development Council.</p><p>Under Howard, the Council created the First Community Land Trust of Chicago, also a non-profit, in 2003. He said residents at that time were worried their neighborhood might become unaffordable. With the alderman&rsquo;s support, the land trust bought city property for $1 and built the 3-bedroom homes.</p><p>&ldquo;Were it not for these spots, the gentrification would have just swamped everybody,&rdquo; said Howard. &ldquo;A lot of people would have moved out.&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Land-trust.png" title="William Howard led the establishment of the first community land trust in Chicago in 2003. It built three, single-family homes that remain affordable, though the recession halted its expansion. (WBEZ/Odette Yousef)" /></div><p>Howard&rsquo;s land trust follows a more conventional model than the one in Albany Park.</p><p>Instead of renting the homes, it offered them for sale.</p><p>&ldquo;The land trust owns this land in perpetuity,&rdquo; he explained. &ldquo;And then we get the homeowners, and the homeowners own the house.&rdquo;</p><p>Howard said three things keep land trust homes affordable. First, homeowners don&rsquo;t buy the land; they only buy the house itself. That means the house sells for much less than its market value.</p><p>Second, homeowners have to agree to resale restrictions.</p><p>&ldquo;Even if the homeowners decides later on they want to sell the home, they must sell it to someone of a like economic profile,&rdquo; said Howard. &ldquo;Otherwise the land trust goes bust.&rdquo;</p><p>In other words, homeowners have to sell the home to someone that qualifies as low-income. That keeps the resale price of the house low.</p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="320" scrolling="no" src="http://interactive.wbez.org/gentrification/widget/14/" style="float: right; clear: right;" width="400"></iframe></p><p>Finally, homeowners only pay property taxes on the value of the house, not including the land.</p><p>Howard originally wanted to build ten homes, but the timing didn&rsquo;t work out.</p><p>&ldquo;We only got three up,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t think anyone at that point had any idea that the recession would last as long as it did or be as deep as it was.&rdquo;</p><p>During the recession concerns about gentrification in West Humboldt Park fizzled out.</p><p>The First Community Land Trust of Chicago still exists, but only to collect the nominal monthly ground lease from the three homeowners in those homes. Property values in the neighborhood dropped so much after the housing bubble burst that it doesn&rsquo;t make sense for the land trust to build additional homes.</p><p>But there is another Chicago-area land trust that&rsquo;s flourishing. It&rsquo;s north of the city, in Highland Park. Luisa Espinosa-Lara and her family once struggled just to rent in this wealthy suburb.</p><p>&ldquo;We thought OK, one day (when) we are able to buy a house, it&rsquo;s not going to be here,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;Houses here are so expensive.&rdquo;</p><p>But thanks to Community Partners for Affordable Housing, Illinois&rsquo;s oldest and largest community land trust, Espinosa-Lara and her husband were able to buy a three-bedroom house in Highland Park. They paid $175,000 for it, roughly half of its market value.</p><p>&ldquo;It was like when you feel that you win the lottery, but like you get millions,&rdquo; she said, &ldquo;because you don&rsquo;t have to go. And I think it&rsquo;s so painful when you have to leave.&rdquo;</p><p>In Highland Park, the community land trust isn&rsquo;t really about gentrification. Instead, it&rsquo;s about creating inclusive, mixed-income neighborhoods.</p><p>That&rsquo;s what Antonio Gutierrez hopes to do back in Chicago&rsquo;s Albany Park neighborhood. But he&rsquo;s taking on a big challenge. Community land trusts typically need hundreds of thousands of dollars in startup costs, to buy, renovate or build homes. Most of them rely on a mix of public grants and private donations.</p><p>Casas del Pueblo doesn&rsquo;t have that kind of money, so Gutierrez hopes to persuade banks to donate foreclosed homes to the community land trust. So far, this strategy has yet to bear fruit.</p><p>&ldquo;Every single time I get to a meeting with a bank, the first thing they ask is how many houses do you have now? How many houses are you managing? And when we say zero, they close the door,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Still, Gutierrez remains undeterred.</p><p>He believes once they have a couple of homes, others will look to his community land trust as a model for how gentrification can benefit even those it would normally displace.</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her </em><a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef"><em>@oyousef</em></a><em> and </em><a href="https://twitter.com/wbezoutloud"><em>@WBEZoutloud</em></a><em>.</em></p></p> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 08:15:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/rents-may-be-going-residents-say-theyre-not-going-anywhere-111269 Real-estate developer in hot area sees bright future — and displacement http://www.wbez.org/news/real-estate-developer-hot-area-sees-bright-future-%E2%80%94-and-displacement-111231 <p><p><br /><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Rob%20Buono%20meeting%203%20CROPSCALE%20fix.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px; float: right; height: 258px; width: 350px;" title="At a community meeting, Robert Buono presents architectural renderings of the dual-tower complex he wants to build near a Chicago Transit Authority stop in the Logan Square neighborhood. The project is among a half-dozen residential developments that could hasten the area’s transformation to an upscale enclave. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)" />About 150 people packed into a Latin American restaurant a few weeks ago to hear about a proposal for an apartment complex in Logan Square, a fast-changing neighborhood on Chicago&rsquo;s Northwest Side.</p><p>At the invitation of the local alderman, real-estate developer Robert Buono got to make his case for a zoning change that would allow the project on a vacant parcel designated for something else.</p><p>Buono projected architectural renderings of the complex onto a screen facing the audience. They showed two glass towers &mdash; one 11 stories, the other 15 &mdash; that together would hold 254 residential units. He said tenants in two-bedroom apartments would pay as much as $2,700 a month.</p><p>&ldquo;Everything is privately financed,&rdquo; said Buono, 51, who became a developer after working for a Lincoln Park alderman in the 1980s, when that North Side neighborhood was transforming into a wealthy enclave. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re asking for no support from the city.&rdquo;</p><p>Buono said his towers would be part of a trend, known as &ldquo;transit-oriented development,&rdquo; in which homes are built within walking distance of train stations, making it more convenient for residents to live without a car. &ldquo;You&rsquo;re going to have higher density, lower parking and taller buildings,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>The dual-tower complex is among a half-dozen upscale residential developments proposed along Logan Square&rsquo;s stretch of the Chicago Transit Authority&rsquo;s Blue Line. That train line connects O&rsquo;Hare International Airport with the city&rsquo;s downtown, known as the Loop.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/WHEELER-KEARNS-MKE-978x1024.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px; float: left; width: 300px; height: 314px;" title="The towers would stand at 2293 N. Milwaukee Ave. within a few hundred feet of the California stop of the CTA’s Blue Line. (Rendering courtesy of Wheeler Kearns Architects)" />Audience members questioned Buono about everything from the shadows the towers would cast to the effect of the complex&rsquo;s rainwater runoff on the sewers to whether the residents would bring more cars to the neighborhood than he was predicting.</p><p>And another question kept coming up. How would such steep rents affect a neighborhood that still had many working-class residents, including tens of thousands of Latinos?</p><p>Buono said he had agreed to a condition, imposed by the alderman, that 10 percent of the units be reserved for affordable housing.</p><p>That led to more questions. A young man who grew up in Logan Square drew applause when he asked, &ldquo;What is the amount of profit that you are going to make if this goes exactly to plan?&rdquo;</p><p>Buono estimated that the $60 million project could net roughly $10 million or, he added quickly, it could lose that much. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s the risk that we take,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>A follow-up question was how much profit there would be if the entire building were devoted to affordable units. Buono answered.</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s not a lender on the face of the earth that would loan me money to build the project,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I can&rsquo;t build it inexpensively enough for the rents to support the costs of construction. It&rsquo;s just not possible.&rdquo;</p><p>Buono is not out to solve Chicago&rsquo;s affordable-housing crisis on his own. But he said the project would help attract young professionals that would uplift Logan Square and the rest of the city. The people he has in mind would use the train to get to their jobs in the Loop. Or, Buono said, they would be &ldquo;consultants that work out of town.&rdquo;<br />&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 22px;">&lsquo;</span><span style="font-size:22px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">I don&rsquo;t want to move from here&rsquo;</span></span></p><p>Not everyone in Logan Square likes the idea of bringing in those sorts of newcomers.</p><p>A few blocks from the proposed apartment complex, Andre Vásquez pulled up to his 10-year-old daughter&rsquo;s school and slipped open the big door of his family&rsquo;s car &mdash; an old Dodge Caravan. She climbed in and told him about a field trip her class took that day.</p><p>Vásquez, 41, makes his living as a DJ for parties and business events. His wife is a part-time nanny. They&rsquo;re raising two kids in a two-bedroom Logan Square apartment about three blocks from the proposed towers.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Bakery%20CROPSCALE.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px; float: right; height: 397px; width: 300px;" title="A Mexican bakery stands near a Logan Square elevated-train station that real-estate interests are eyeing for ‘transit-oriented development.’ Despite years of gentrification, Logan Square still has tens of thousands of Latinos. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)" />&ldquo;I pay $950 a month, which is fairly cheap for this neighborhood,&rdquo; Vásquez said. &ldquo;And I was just informed by my landlord that she&rsquo;s going to have to raise the rents at least another $400 or $500 because the taxes in the area have gone up.&rdquo;</p><p>The neighborhood&rsquo;s rents have gone up because property values have increased as wealthier people have arrived. From 2011 to 2013, median sales prices of Logan Square homes jumped almost a third.</p><p>Vásquez said he had been displaced before &mdash; from a nearby neighborhood called West Town, where he grew up. &ldquo;They built their condominiums and only people with money, and lots of money, move into them,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;There&rsquo;s no way people like myself or my parents or grandparents could ever afford it.&rdquo;</p><p>Vásquez looked at his daughter in the van&rsquo;s back seat and said he did not want her to go through the same thing. &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t want to move from here,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;This is all she knows.&rdquo;</p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="320" scrolling="no" src="http://interactive.wbez.org/gentrification/widget/22/" style="float: right; clear: right;" width="400"></iframe></p><p>This is textbook gentrification. And Buono, the real-estate developer, defends it.</p><p>Interviewed in his office, Buono said the towers would serve a basic need: &ldquo;Developing communities that are going to be attractive to the future of the city of Chicago &mdash; so that the demographic that we&rsquo;re addressing, the 18-to-35-year-olds &mdash; so that they want to move to Chicago, that they want to work in Chicago.&rdquo;</p><p>Buono called the lack of development so close to the Blue Line station a missed opportunity for the city to boost its revenue. &ldquo;We look at a property like that today that pays $29,000 in real-estate taxes because it&rsquo;s vacant,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;A new development there would produce $350,000-$400,000 a year.&rdquo;</p><p>Buono said his project will benefit the entire Logan Square neighborhood. &ldquo;Bringing 300-400 people to an area, that really is depopulated, starts to support a whole bunch of activities,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Those people living in those buildings support the businesses in the neighborhood.&rdquo;<br />&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">&lsquo;Natural and inevitable&rsquo;</span></span></p><p>This reasoning is familiar to Marisa Novara, who directs the housing and community-development program of the Metropolitan Planning Council, a nonprofit advocacy group.</p><p>&ldquo;Anyone in a neighborhood that has a lack of amenities &mdash; places to shop locally, strong schools &mdash; wants things to get better,&rdquo; Novara said. &ldquo;What they don&rsquo;t want is to not be able to live there anymore once they do get better. Housing that is near transit should be available to everyone, not only the highest bidder.&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Marisa%20Novara%201%20CROPSCALE.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px; float: right; height: 242px; width: 320px;" title="Marisa Novara of the Metropolitan Planning Council, a nonprofit group, says Chicago must try to ‘harness’ the private sector due to a lack of federal affordable-housing funds. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)" />Novara said the city has interests beyond attracting young professionals and collecting more property taxes. When gentrification fuels economic segregation, she said, everyone loses.</p><p>&ldquo;There is a cost to concentrated poverty &mdash; education outcomes, health outcomes, crime, economic productivity,&rdquo; Novara said.</p><p>Without a massive increase in federal funds for affordable housing, Novara said, cities such as Chicago must harness the private sector. That means setting up carrots and sticks so developers in hot neighborhoods include affordable units in their projects, she said.</p><p>For his Logan Square towers, Buono has already agreed to include the 10 percent. If his project is not scaled back, that would amount to 25 units. That leaves the other 225 to be rented for whatever the market will bear.</p><p>&ldquo;If we achieve the rents that we&rsquo;re suggesting that we can &mdash; and the landlord down the street in the two-flat decides to raise his rent as a result, primarily because the market says he can &mdash; could it cause a displacement of some people?&rdquo; Buono&nbsp;asked. &ldquo;The answer to that is yes.&rdquo;</p><p>And if Buono&rsquo;s project and the other Logan Square proposals&nbsp;materialized, he acknowledged, they would &ldquo;alter the character&rdquo; of the neighborhood. &ldquo;This is a natural, inevitable trend that has happened in many neighborhoods in Chicago,&rdquo; he said.</p><p><br /><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/cmitchell-0">Chip Mitchell</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s West Side bureau reporter. Follow him on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/ChipMitchell1">@ChipMitchell1</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>, and connect with him through <a href="https://www.facebook.com/chipmitchell1">Facebook</a>, <a href="https://plus.google.com/111079509307132701769" rel="me">Google+</a> and <a href="http://www.linkedin.com/in/ChipMitchell1">LinkedIn</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 15 Dec 2014 05:50:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/real-estate-developer-hot-area-sees-bright-future-%E2%80%94-and-displacement-111231