WBEZ | public housing http://www.wbez.org/tags/public-housing Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Public housing or downtown luxury: How home shapes Chicagoans' lives, Part 1 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/public-housing-or-downtown-luxury-how-home-shapes-chicagoans-lives-part-1-107684 <p><p>Chicago is no doubt a city of stark economic differences, a fact that prompted Heather Radke to ask this question:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>What&#39;s it like to live in public housing versus the fanciest apartment downtown?</em></p><p>&quot;The real impetus behind this question is actually about disparity &mdash; income disparity and housing disparity in the city,&quot; Heather said. &ldquo;I was thinking about what sort of questions might bring out an answer that would reveal the real big differences between how poor folks live in the city and how many, many wealthy folks live in the city.&quot;</p><p>But to hear more about what separates &mdash; and possibly connects &mdash; life on either side of Chicago&rsquo;s social divide, we needed a game plan. We quickly settled on the first ground rule: The reporting needed to be specific. So, just as there&rsquo;s no prototypical public housing experience, nor a prototypical &ldquo;fancy housing&rdquo; experience, we are profiling two Chicagoans who live on either side of the spectrum.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/FOR WEB portrait.jpg" style="float: right; height: 167px; width: 250px;" title="Crystal Palmer in her home, a $373-per-month, two-bedroom apartment in the Westhaven Annex. She says she wants the same thing in her life that anyone else wants. (WBEZ/Logan Jaffe)" />We&rsquo;ll look at not only about how and why they ended up living where they live, but also how their homes define their lives. I&rsquo;ll also ask them everything from how they do laundry to what they eat for dinner. And I&rsquo;ll bring in relevant demographic data about their neighborhoods and the people they encounter daily. And, most importantly, I&rsquo;ll ask both people to comment on each other&rsquo;s insights and perspectives.</p><p>As we continue our search for someone interested in sharing their experience living in what would qualify as a &ldquo;fancy apartment downtown&rdquo;&nbsp;(see the <a href="#Note">editor&rsquo;s note</a> below), we bring you what we&rsquo;ve learned from a woman who can tell the public housing side of our story.</p><p><strong>&lsquo;I do all my good stuff in my house&rsquo;</strong><br /><br />Crystal Palmer lived in the area where the United Center is now for much of her life. From 1968 to 1994, she lived in the Henry Horner Homes, a Chicago Housing Authority public housing project that was composed of high-rise buildings along with a sprinkling of low-rise buildings.<br /><br />She returned to public housing in the neighborhood a few years later, as the CHA redeveloped the old Henry Horner homes. Today, Palmer lives in a $373-per-month, two-bedroom apartment in the Westhaven Annex, which sits on a plot of land seemingly carved out of the main parking lot of the United Center.<br /><br />Listening to Palmer talk with her in-unit dryer spinning in the background, it became clear that she&rsquo;s proud of the home she&rsquo;s made for herself.<br />&nbsp;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/FOR%20WEB%20united%20center.jpg" style="float: left; height: 214px; width: 320px;" title="Crystal's apartment complex sits right in the backyard of the United Center. (WBEZ/Logan Jaffe)" />&ldquo;In my house where it&rsquo;s quiet and peaceful, this is where I eat and I enjoy and I sleep. I do all my good stuff in my house. I do all my business outside,&rdquo; Palmer said. &ldquo;Once I&rsquo;ve done all that business, meeting after meeting and place after place, I want to get home, get me a good meal, get me a shower, maybe do some work and go to bed and get up and start it all over again.&rdquo;<br /><br />Palmer knows there are differences between her living experience and others&rsquo;, whether they live next door, in other CHA housing across the city or even in the Loop&rsquo;s Trump Tower.</p><p>But these differences are in the details &mdash; the view from the bedroom window, traffic during Blackhawks games or the distance she has to travel to the grocery store.</p><p>On the whole, Palmer says, she wants the same thing in her life that anyone else wants.</p><p>&quot;I live in public housing and those who live in a condo, they live the same exact way,&rdquo; Palmer said. &ldquo;There&#39;s no difference in the way that they live and I live. People tend to think that we live different than others.&rdquo;<br /><br /><strong>Location, location, location</strong></p><p>The location of her home is ideal for Palmer. But Palmer has a car just like many &mdash; but not most &mdash; of her neighbors. That makes it easier for her to go to the grocery store or get downtown for work as CHA&rsquo;s liaison with the Central Advisory Council, the voice for public housing residents around the city.<br /><br />&ldquo;I&rsquo;m close to downtown,&rdquo; Palmer said. &ldquo;I can actually reach out and touch downtown from here.&rdquo;<br /><br />Palmer knows that&rsquo;s not true of residents of the city&rsquo;s other public housing developments, which can be isolated not only from downtown, but from fundamental services like grocery stores and public transportation.<br />&nbsp;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/FOR%20WEB%20inside%20apartment.jpg" style="height: 213px; width: 320px; float: right;" title="Tanveer Ali, right, interviews Crystal Palmer inside her apartment. Palmer said her home is “where it’s quiet and peaceful, this is where I eat and I enjoy and I sleep.” (WBEZ/Logan Jaffe)" />&quot;We have a food desert here. We have grocery stores, but we need to catch a bus to get to them,&quot; Palmer said.<br /><br />For Palmer&rsquo;s neighbors who don&rsquo;t have easy access to cars, the location to the CTA&rsquo;s #20 Madison and #50 Damen bus routes helps reach grocery stores like Jewel-Osco, Mariano&rsquo;s or Dominick&rsquo;s. A Pete&rsquo;s Fresh Market being built on Madison Street and Western Avenue will be a 20-minute walk away.<br /><br />Women helm 85 percent of those households, in the Horner/Westhaven Park CHA site Palmer lives at, according to CHA data. CHA says slightly less than two-thirds of all adults less than 54 years old and non-disabled heads of household are employed.<br /><br /><strong>The neighbors</strong></p><p>The median yearly income of households in the area hovers slightly over $12,100, which is on par with CHA housing as a whole.<br /><br />For comparison, the median household in the census tract that includes Trump Tower is about $89,350, according to the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau.<br /><br />Palmer says figures about income disparities don&rsquo;t tell the whole story about her, or her community of public housing residents.<br /><br />&ldquo;A large percentage of us are employed and want something better and take care of our homes, take care of our units take care of our families and don&#39;t get into any trouble,&rdquo; Palmer said.<br /><br />There is crime in the surrounding area, Palmer acknowledges, but outside of noticing a few drugs deals outside her bedroom window, it hasn&rsquo;t affected her life much since she moved into her current place.<br />&nbsp;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/FOR%20WEB%20courtyard%20view.jpg" style="float: left; height: 213px; width: 320px;" title="Tanveer Ali, left, and Crystal Palmer stand in her complex's courtyard. She says she could never live in the taller building, as she prefers her courtyard apartment. (WBEZ/Logan Jaffe)" />&ldquo;I wasn&rsquo;t used to that and they would be making noise out there all night and they even also would be selling drugs out there,&rdquo; Palmer said. &ldquo;I was like &lsquo;Whoa, you guys need to move away from there.&rsquo; &hellip; It&rsquo;s all about a relationship.&rdquo;<br /><br />But that stays outside of the apartment complex, a set of three-story rowhouses and a seven-story apartment building that surrounds a well-manicured courtyard.<br /><br />The only way in is by passing the security desk, helmed by guards handpicked and well-known to the residents.<br /><br />&ldquo;I&rsquo;ve left my doors open many, many times. It&rsquo;s just safe,&rdquo; Palmer added.<br /><br />But Palmer&rsquo;s days in CHA housing are hopefully numbered. Her apartment has been lined with packed boxes for the past several months as she awaits closing on a house nearby that she got for a &ldquo;very good deal.&rdquo;<br /><br />That move, she said, will hopefully come at the end of the month.<br /><br />&ldquo;For you to go from subsidies to your own, it&rsquo;s a big thing. It&rsquo;s a real big thing,&rdquo; Palmer said.<br /><br /><em>Tanveer Ali is a freelance producer who has worked for organizations that include WBEZ, the Chicago News Cooperative and DNAinfo.com. Follow him @tanveerali.</em></p><p><em><a name="Note"></a>To best answer Heather Radke&rsquo;s question about life on either side of Chicago&rsquo;s social divide, we need to hear from people of means who live in downtown Chicago. If you would like to know more or have leads for us to consider, please contact Shawn Allee, Curious City&rsquo;s editor, at 312-948-4723 or write him at sallee@wbez.org.</em></p></p> Thu, 13 Jun 2013 15:28:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/public-housing-or-downtown-luxury-how-home-shapes-chicagoans-lives-part-1-107684 Reporter's Notebook: Life in public housing vs. the fanciest downtown apartment http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/reporters-notebook-life-public-housing-vs-fanciest-downtown-apartment-107103 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/tanveer and realtor.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="650" src="http://embed.verite.co/timeline/?source=0AgYZnhF-8PafdGJhci1aV2Q3YlhXb0JOREg5LVNXVWc&amp;font=Bevan-PotanoSans&amp;maptype=toner&amp;lang=en&amp;width=620&amp;height=650" width="620"></iframe></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/about-curious-city-98756">Curious City</a>&nbsp;is a news-gathering experiment designed to satisfy the public&#39;s curiosity.&nbsp;People&nbsp;<a href="http://curiouscity.wbez.org/#!/ask">submit questions</a>,&nbsp;<a href="http://curiouscity.wbez.org/#!/ask">vote&nbsp;</a>for their favorites, and WBEZ reports out the winning questions in real time on&nbsp;<a href="http://www.facebook.com/curiouscityproject">Facebook</a>,&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/#!/WBEZCuriousCity">Twitter&nbsp;</a>and the timeline above.</p><p>Curious Citizen Heather Radke asked about the relationship between where we live and our everyday lives, and she wants the answer to be based on real experience. If you have leads or a point for us to consider, please comment below, or hit us at any of the social media outlets listed above!&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 09 May 2013 13:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/reporters-notebook-life-public-housing-vs-fanciest-downtown-apartment-107103 CHA reveals next phase of massive public housing redevelopment http://www.wbez.org/cha-reveals-next-phase-massive-public-housing-redevelopment-106757 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/cha plan_130421_nm.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>In 1994, Chicago public housing high rises failed federal government standards. The massive cinder block buildings had become as recognizable as the city&rsquo;s skyline. They were also viewed as a symbol of failed housing policies that resulted in concentrated black poverty. Critics said the notorious high rises warehoused blacks in destitute conditions; residents decried a lack of investment in their apartments and communities.</p><p>Five years later Mayor Richard M. Daley went to Washington, D.C. and got permission to demolish the high rises, most of them erected when his father Richard J. Daley was mayor. Thus, the country&rsquo;s largest public housing redevelopment program &ndash; christened the Plan for Transformation &ndash; was born. Its centerpiece was a plan to build mixed-income housing on the same footprint as the old high rises with the following formula for attracting residents: one-third market rate, one-third affordable and one-third public.</p><p>The controversial $1 billion-plus plan is scheduled to wrap up in 2015. Under the plan, which is 85 percent complete, 25,000 units will be developed or revitalized. CHA has already moved almost 16,000 family households from derelict buildings. Some public housing families moved into brand new units with higher-income earning neighbors. Others were lost in the system or moved into segregated, high-poverty neighborhoods. An economic downturn and housing crash eventually forced the Chicago Housing Authority to change course.</p><p>Now CHA is unveiling &ldquo;Plan Forward,&rdquo; the second phase of the original plan. It focuses on acquiring homes in neighborhoods across the city for rehab, boosting economic activity around CHA sites and providing job/educational training for people with subsidized housing vouchers in the city.</p><p>&ldquo;All residents of public housing had been walled off from the rest of the city both by physical, cultural &ndash;&nbsp; not just geographic &ndash; but services [such as separate security and garbage collection],&rdquo; said Mayor Rahm Emanuel of the CHA conditions pre-Plan for Transformation. &ldquo;Now we&rsquo;ve even got to take the next step further.&rdquo;</p><p>The mayor spoke Saturday at Legends South, on 44th and State Street, a mixed-income development that replaced the <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k--Gs1veNYE">Robert Taylor</a> Homes &ndash; formerly the <a href="http://www.chicagoreporter.com/news/2007/09/good-ol-days">world&rsquo;s largest public housing development</a>. Emanuel served as vice chair of the CHA board in the 1990s when the original plan was in formation.</p><p>Multiple tracts of vacant land sit idle on the State Street corridor as development has stalled. One of the new plan&rsquo;s goals is to tailor the mix of what&rsquo;s considered mixed income. Another goal is to use CHA-owned land for non-housing development.</p><p>CHA CEO Charles Woodyard said various city agencies in the next few weeks will start approaching the vacant land as an asset.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s more than housing. Housing was the foundation. We will work with the private sector and public sector to see if can have job-creating retail. If we can have retail that provides a needed service for our families. We&rsquo;re going to make sure that the investment that the public makes doesn&rsquo;t wither and die on the vine because we haven&rsquo;t completed the community,&rdquo; Woodyard said.</p><p>Thousands of CHA families rent in the private market with subsidized housing vouchers. A recent <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/report-cha-plan-has-improved-residents%E2%80%99-lives-106036">Urban Institute report</a> praised the inroads CHA has made with resident services but said children have still suffered. New CHA strategies include improved early childhood education, connecting teens to extra-curricular activities and new youth programs for up to 5,000 kids.</p><p>One of the problems with the existing voucher program is that many poor families live in distressed neighborhoods such as Englewood or Austin where there&rsquo;s high crime and few amenities. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/news/local/housing-vouchers-clustered-certain-neighborhoods">doesn&rsquo;t provide enough money</a> for people to live in less segregated, more affluent areas.</p><p>To counter that, Woodyard says CHA will acquire and rehabilitate homes and apartments in a variety of neighborhoods.</p><p>&ldquo;One of the things we&rsquo;re really trying to achieve is to integrate affordable housing into the larger community that is Chicago,&rdquo; Woodyard said. &ldquo;It means not just sticking to the South Side. The South Side and the West Side have a fair amount of affordable housing. We&rsquo;re going to do everything we can to make sure families have opportunities in neighborhoods that give them opportunities.</p><p>&ldquo;One thing we have to understand is our families are used to support systems and familiarity. So some of them may prefer to live on the South Side.&rdquo; But Woodyard said CHA will give them incentives.</p><p>Other highlights from the new plan include an adult literacy pilot program and a recalibrated <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/cha-residents-want-housing-agency-supply-more-jobs-89205">federal jobs program</a>.</p><p>Resident activist Carol Steele runs the Coalition to Protect Public Housing out of Cabrini-Green. She said she&rsquo;s still concerned about <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Where-Are-Poor-People-Live/dp/0765610760">poor residents</a> who lived in CHA back when the plan started in 1999.</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s not even enough housing for the people that have the right to return. That&rsquo;s what I&rsquo;m looking forward to hearing about,&rdquo; Steele said. &ldquo;When are we going to complete these 25,000 replacement units for the residents that are out there waiting to return to their communities?&rdquo;</p><p><em>Natalie Moore is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/natalieymoore">@natalieymoore</a>.</em></p></p> Sat, 20 Apr 2013 18:50:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/cha-reveals-next-phase-massive-public-housing-redevelopment-106757 Report: CHA plan has improved residents’ lives http://www.wbez.org/news/report-cha-plan-has-improved-residents%E2%80%99-lives-106036 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/oakwood_1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>For residents who moved out of Chicago&rsquo;s notorious public housing high rises in the last decade, life has improved. But many children in these families suffer from low school performance and growing up with chronic violence.</p><p>A new report released Monday by the Urban Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, paints a largely positive picture of the Chicago Housing Authority efforts. The study comes while the CHA is retooling its Plan for Transformation, an ambitious multi-year effort begun in 1999 that broke up concentrated high-rise developments.</p><p>The Urban Institute&rsquo;s Sue Popkin has studied CHA for the past 25 years. At the beginning of that period, she recalled, one could observe high rises with backed-up incinerators, dank hallways, gang wars and faulty elevators.</p><p>&ldquo;I didn&rsquo;t expect to be in a place 10 years later where I would say this is basically a housing intervention and it&rsquo;s worked okay. For the most part people are living in better housing in safer neighborhoods,&rdquo; Popkin said.</p><p>CHA&rsquo;s controversial $1 billion Plan for Transformation tore down high rises and replaced them with mixed-income communities. The Robert Taylor Homes and Cabrini-Green were synonymous with Chicago&rsquo;s skyline and had the worst housing reputation in the country. Since the Plan began, CHA has moved almost 16,000 family households from derelict buildings. The agency has rehabilitated or built 19,000 public housing units, which includes 3,200 in mixed income.</p><p>Several years ago the Urban Institute told CHA that moving families wasn&rsquo;t simply a construction issue; to succeed, residents needed services. Popkin said that steep learning curve for CHA has paid off after the housing agency implemented a strong resident service program in 2007. &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>Researchers say that vulnerable residents need intensive wraparound services to address mental health, low literacy and lack of job skills. The report suggests that residents who&rsquo;ve received intensive case management have fared better. The services cost about $2,900 annually per household but can increase family stability and reduce depression. CHA families have grappled with the trauma of poverty: physical health problems, anxiety, high mortality rates.</p><p>But Popkin said it&rsquo;s not all a pretty picture. Emphasis on adults has meant that improvements have not always trickled down to children. Relocation has been especially hard on them and causes disruption in school and socially.</p><p>&ldquo;I worry a lot about the kids,&rdquo; Popkin said. &ldquo;The services that helped the adults do better don&rsquo;t seem to have helped the kids. It&rsquo;s an urgent issue. These are kids who have grown up in families who&rsquo;ve lived in chronic disadvantage for generations and it&rsquo;s going to take more than just moving to slightly safer places to help get them on a better trajectory.&rdquo;</p><p>Some young people have struggled academically and have had a tough time adapting to new neighborhoods where they are perceived as outsiders. And they continue to live amid violence. The Urban Institute is currently working on CHA incorporating a dual generation approach at Altgeld Gardens, a public housing development on the southern edge of the city.</p><p>&ldquo;Frankly, at this point it&rsquo;s going to be a matter of money,&rdquo; Popkin said. &ldquo;This is obviously not CHA&rsquo;s fault. But the sequester and everything else that&rsquo;s going on, I worry about the threat to human services at a point where we really need it to make a difference.&rdquo;</p><p>Mary Howard leads resident services for CHA said the agency is looking at how to provide services to children whose families participate in the housing voucher program. There are 38,000 Chicago households that use vouchers to rent in the private market.</p><p>&ldquo;One of the things that we&rsquo;re looking at is how to open up some of our opportunities that have traditionally been available for public housing families to the house choice voucher population,&rdquo; Howard said. For example, making sure discounted park district programs reach these youth.</p><p>Resident leaders say they want CHA to listen to their suggestions about what&rsquo;s working and what&rsquo;s not.</p><p>&ldquo;Let us help you out. Work with us,&rdquo; Francine Washington told housing officials Monday.</p><p>CHA&rsquo;s Plan for Transformation is the largest of its kind in the country. Researchers say the housing agency&rsquo;s mistakes and triumphs can inform federal policy. The Plan is expected to be completed by 2015.</p></p> Mon, 11 Mar 2013 17:12:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/report-cha-plan-has-improved-residents%E2%80%99-lives-106036 CHA, HUD pen agreement on program http://www.wbez.org/news/cha-hud-pen-agreement-program-105616 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/RS4349_Charles Woodyard.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F79992570" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>The Chicago Housing Authority has entered into an agreement with the federal government that aims to provide more jobs and contracts to public housing and low-income residents.</p><p>The program, known as Section 3, started in 1968. Last year the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development found Chicago noncompliant with Section 3. Residents have also filed lawsuits related to the program.</p><p>Now the local and federal housing agencies are embarking on a five-year deal. The end goal is for at least 10 percent of the total dollar amount of all contracts covered by Section 3 go to Section 3 hires.</p><p>&ldquo;CHA&rsquo;s excited about this new partnership with HUD,&rdquo; said Charles Woodyard, CEO of CHA. &ldquo;Together we will ensure that goals of this new initiative are met so that Section 3 residents and other low-income Chicagoans are provided opportunities to advance their business and their careers.&rdquo;</p><p>CHA&rsquo;s track record on Section 3 is a mixed bag. A <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/cha-residents-want-housing-agency-supply-more-jobs-89205">2011 WBEZ report</a> found that several years ago, 30 percent of new hires were designated Section 3 &ndash; the federal minimum. But in 2008 and 2009, for example, more than 70 percent of CHA new hires were Section 3. Still, in those two years, hundreds of millions of dollars were awarded in contracts, yet none of those involved Section 3-owned businesses. Other public housing agencies around the country have had much worse track records.</p><p>Four residents from the Altgeld Gardens development have filed a lawsuit under Section 3. A judge has ruled that one of those lawsuits can go forward. The resident involved in that case alleges that she hasn&rsquo;t been hired under the program.</p><p>This new Section 3 agreement with HUD states CHA will require building trade contractors to submit payroll and hiring reports on a weekly basis. HUD will monitor progress. When it is infeasible for CHA to meet the numerical goals for employment, the housing agency must show HUD other economic opportunities that it provides to its resident and the community. Those opportunities may be educational, recreational, or youth-oriented. They can also involve learning enrichment, after-school programs, child care, senior services, and job preparation programs, as well as other economic opportunities. Noncompliance could cost CHA competitive grant funding.</p><p>Residents and stakeholders are skeptical about the agreement.</p><p>&ldquo;Seems like a decision has been [made] and we haven&rsquo;t be included in it. Once again we&rsquo;ve been left behind,&rdquo; said Dennis Hood, a CHA resident and owner of a contracting business.</p><p>Robert Whitfield is the attorney for the umbrella CHA tenants&rsquo; group. He said he&rsquo;s not sure whether the voluntary agreement will turn the dime of resident hiring. The issue is bigger than CHA.</p><p>&ldquo;I would like to see [CHA] use a lot more of their procurement power to force the union to get more residents into the unions as apprentices,&rdquo; Whitfield said. &ldquo;Until that happens they [HUD, CHA] can sign all the agreements they want but it&rsquo;ll run into a dead end when contractors say they aren&rsquo;t in the union.&rdquo;</p><p>That&rsquo;s a huge concern for Thomas Harris, secretary-treasurer of the American Allied Workers International Union. He said organized labor dictates the contracts. He said he&rsquo;s trying to get his union to represent CHA residents so they aren&rsquo;t shut out.</p><p>&ldquo;Labor dictates what&rsquo;s going to happen with the contracts and who the workers are going to be. They&rsquo;ve been closed out of workplace because they&rsquo;ve never been at the table to be represented in terms of their trades,&rdquo; Harris said.</p><p>Follow Natalie on&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/natalieymoore">Twitter</a>.</p></p> Tue, 19 Feb 2013 17:36:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/cha-hud-pen-agreement-program-105616 Senior citizens blast prominent community leader as a 'slumlord' http://www.wbez.org/news/senior-citizens-blast-prominent-community-leader-slumlord-105612 <p><p>A group of senior citizens held a protest Tuesday over what they call &ldquo;deplorable conditions&rdquo; in public housing in the Kenwood-Oakland neighborhood. The four senior homes in question are managed by the Woodlawn Community Development Corporation (WCDC), a project of Reverend Leon Finney.</p><p>Finney rose to prominence fighting slumlords in the 1960s and 1970s, but has since become the subject of <a href="http://www.chicagoreporter.com/news/2012/01/following-finney" target="_blank">scrutiny</a>, a lawsuit, and <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-01-06/news/ct-met-finney-woodlawn-20120106_1_property-management-federal-lawsuit-chief-financial-officer" target="_blank">a federal probe</a> related to allegations of mismanaging funds provided to WCDC and The Woodlawn Organization. Finney began working in property management in the 1970s. WCDC manages 4,000 private and public units that house 10,000 people in the Chicago area.<iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F79973994&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>On Monday, the <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/18319201-761/residents-of-cha-senior-building-we-feel-as-if-we-are-prisoners.html" target="_blank">Sun-Times reported</a> on a visit to the Judge Slater Senior Housing Complex at 42nd and Cottage Grove in Chicago. Columnist Mary Mitchell described evidence of vermin and roaches, and related residents&rsquo; accusations of abuse and neglect on the part of management.</p><p>&ldquo;How can he be against slumlords if he&rsquo;s a slumlord?&rdquo; said Aryah Benyahuda, who lives in Judge Slater. &ldquo;What has up there is a facade, it&rsquo;s camouflage.&rdquo;</p><p>Benyahuda joined four other public housing residents and about 20 people from the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization (KOCO) in front of the CHA&rsquo;s downtown offices. KOCO helped the seniors organize a demonstration after a group of residents came to them for help. Residents said they believed others had been intimidated by WCDC not to speak out.</p><p>Inside, at the CHA board meeting, other residents of WCDC buildings did speak out &ndash; against protestors.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS7038_019-scr.JPG" style="float: right; height: 210px; width: 320px;" title="Aryah Benyahuda headed home from the protest. (WBEZ/Lewis Wallace)" /></p><p>&ldquo;When we need something, they are there,&rdquo; said Shirley Jean Lee, a resident of another WCDC-managed building.</p><p>Two senior homes residents who spoke out in favor of WCDC at the meeting hung up when contacted for this story. Others said their buildings do have bed bugs, roaches and mice. But they didn&rsquo;t blame the managers.</p><p>&ldquo;You know why that&rsquo;s a problem,&rdquo; said John Williams, also a resident of Judge Slater. &ldquo;Because people won&rsquo;t clean up.&rdquo;</p><p>Williams accused the protestors of intentionally causing trouble.</p><p>A spokesperson for the CHA says they have addressed bed bugs in the senior homes, and had not heard about problems with mice or roaches.</p><p>&ldquo;We regularly have meetings with our residents to address any concerns,&rdquo; said Wendy Parks, a spokesperson for CHA. &ldquo;We have had our CHA staff out at Judge Slater on a continuing basis.&rdquo;</p><p>The protesting residents have received a response from Finney&rsquo;s real estate manager, Sandra Harris, agreeing to meet with them. But Shannon Bennett of KOCO said seniors aren&rsquo;t satisfied.</p><p>&ldquo;We asked to meet with Finney in our letter,&rdquo; Bennett said. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s not what they&rsquo;re offering.&rdquo;</p><p>Finney is a high-profile target for a campaign &ndash; but his connections also make him a likely one. He&rsquo;s been on the board of the Chicago Planning Commission, served as Vice Chair of the Chicago Housing Authority, and served as a trustee at Chicago State University. He&rsquo;s a pastor and a professor, and his real estate investments through WCDC number in the hundreds of millions of dollars. It&rsquo;s also <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/news/3194247-418/court-tenants-heat-finney-building.html" target="_blank">not the first time he&rsquo;s been called a slumlord</a>. But KOCO says their actions are not about targeting Finney.</p><p>&ldquo;It could be the man on the moon who&rsquo;s managing their property,&rdquo; Bennett said. &ldquo;Seniors who are already marginalized do not deserve to be intimidated for speaking up.&rdquo;</p><p>Follow <a href="https://twitter.com/LewisPants" target="_blank">Lewis Wallace on Twitter.</a></p></p> Tue, 19 Feb 2013 16:24:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/senior-citizens-blast-prominent-community-leader-slumlord-105612 CHA considers new math for mixed-income equation http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-05/cha-considers-new-math-mixed-income-equation-98847 <p><p style="text-align: center; "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/fire%20of%20the%20mind.jpg" style="width: 620px; height: 465px; " title="A model of Parkside of Old Town, a mixed income housing complex that replaced some of Cabrini Green (Flickr/Fire of the Mind)"></p><p>It's been 12 years since the Chicago Housing Authority embarked on its <a href="http://www.thecha.org/pages/the_plan_for_transformation/22.php" target="_blank">Plan for Transformation</a>, an effort to dismantle the city's notorious high rise housing projects and provide 25,000 new or renovated units of housing. Rather than concentrating poverty in densely-populated high rises, the plan was to create mixed-income communities that were one-third public housing, one-third affordable rentals and one-third market rate condos.</p><p>The results so far have been less than stellar. According to a <a href="http://ssascholars.uchicago.edu/mixed-income-development-study/files/mixed_income_brief6.pdf" target="_blank">recent study by the University of Chicago</a>, only 11 percent of relocated public housing residents with a "right of return" live in mixed-income developments. Many simply left the city altogether. Megan Cottrell from the <em>Chicago Reporter </em><a href="http://www.chicagonow.com/chicago-muckrakers/2011/01/did-the-public-housing-transformation-destroy-chicagos-black-voter-base/">found that</a> a third of African-Americans who left the city between 2000 and 2009 were from areas with public housing.</p><p>In a meeting last week, CHA CEO Charles Woodyard said that developments would no long need to adhere to the one-third, one-third, one-third rule and that decisions would be made on a case-by-case basis. It's unclear what a change in the equation would look like or how this would affect current mixed-income developments.</p><p><em>Chicago </em>magazine <a href="http://www.chicagomag.com/Radar/Deal-Estate/" target="_blank"><em>Deal Estate </em></a>columnist Dennis Rodkin thinks the CHA is smart to retool. In an email, he told WBEZ, "the market-rate buyers just weren't there." Now, with housing prices in decline, there is even less incentive for would-be buyers to take a risk on mixed-income developments.</p><p>On Monday's&nbsp;<em>Eight Forty-Eight</em>, Rodkin looks at what the CHA needs to do to breathe new life into its ambitious Plan for Transformation. To weigh in during the live discussion, call <strong>312.923.9239</strong>.</p></p> Mon, 07 May 2012 16:08:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-05/cha-considers-new-math-mixed-income-equation-98847 CHA opens first tech center in public housing http://www.wbez.org/story/chicago-housing-agency-opens-new-technology-center-97043 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2012-March/2012-03-07/001.JPG_.crop_display.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The Chicago Housing Authority opened its first technology center in a resident development on Wednesday.</p><p>Dearborn Homes, near 29th and State Street, now has a lab with 28 computers. It will be staffed by current and former residents.</p><p>“It was difficult when I was a resident here because we didn’t have access to computers. I think it’s a great advantage especially while residents reside in this building, especially if they live upstairs they can just walk on in the computer lab,” said former Dearborn resident Sharon Bryant.</p><p>The lab will provide computer skills, Internet access and job search resources.</p><p>CHA officials say it’s crucial that low income residents be able to cross the digital divide, and they hope the centers’ broadband access can help. CHA residents often go to public libraries for computer access. The city has recently struggled to maintain library hours, especially during times of day when adults are most likely to use public computers. In 2009, a city of Chicago study showed that four out of every 10 residents face barriers to broadband access.</p><p>CHA plans to open six more tech centers in public housing developments over the next two years. The agency says the centers are being made possible through a Broadband Technology Opportunities Program grant aimed at providing access to technology to low-income people.</p></p> Wed, 07 Mar 2012 15:44:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/chicago-housing-agency-opens-new-technology-center-97043 Leaving poor neighborhoods brings health benefits http://www.wbez.org/story/leaving-poor-neighborhoods-brings-health-benefits-93302 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-October/2011-10-19/Cabrini.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Moving from public housing to a better-off neighborhood might come with health benefits, according to a unique study led by Chicago researchers.</p><p>During the 1990s, the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development paid for 1,788 women with children to move out of public housing and into low-poverty neighborhoods as part of the Moving to Opportunity program. A comparable group remained in public housing. That set up a perfect experimental situation for researchers, who could now examine how the group who moved fared compared with the control group.</p><p>In a batch of data <a href="http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMsa1103216">published in the New England Journal of Medicine, </a>they found that women who moved had much better rates – about 20 percent lower – of obesity and diabetes than women who stayed in public housing.</p><p>“I was actually surprised by the size of the effects,” said Jens Ludwig, professor of law and public policy at the University of Chicago. “Having the opportunity to move from a high-poverty to a lower-poverty neighborhood had about the same size impact on diabetes as what you see from things like lifestyle interventions or medication.”</p><p>The study didn’t examine why that’s the case, but Ludwig said previous research suggests some possible explanations. It could be that poor neighborhoods have worse food options, fewer opportunities for exercise, and higher levels of stress. The study included residents of Chicago’s Robert Taylor Homes, as well as women from four other cities.</p></p> Wed, 19 Oct 2011 21:34:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/leaving-poor-neighborhoods-brings-health-benefits-93302 Report tracks housing voucher mobility in Illinois http://www.wbez.org/story/report-tracks-housing-voucher-mobility-illinois-85515 <p><p>A new study about housing vouchers in Illinois debunks common myths about where voucher-holders choose to locate.</p><p>Janet Smith, a housing expert at the University of Illinois-Chicago who worked on the study, said there’s been speculation that former Chicago public housing residents use vouchers to move to central and southern Illinois.</p><p>"One of things we wanted to be able to look at here was really – is that true? Not so much to disprove that but to answer the question that a lot of people have – where are people really moving to," Smith said.</p><p>Smith's work suggests the myths are false. She said that of the 70,000 voucher households in Illinois, only seven percent have used their vouchers to move from where they originally got their voucher.</p><p>She said one barrier to voucher-holders' mobility is the lack of transportation. Voucher-holders may not have automobiles and, if they move outside Chicago, they may have a difficult time visiting friends and relatives they leave behind. Also, other Illinois cities offer fewer public transit options than Chicago.</p></p> Fri, 22 Apr 2011 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/report-tracks-housing-voucher-mobility-illinois-85515