WBEZ | HUD http://www.wbez.org/tags/hud Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Federal government wants to ban smoking in public housing http://www.wbez.org/programs/here-and-now/2015-11-12/federal-government-wants-ban-smoking-public-housing-113761 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/4170136164_b650ccca9a_z.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="attachment_96032"><img alt="(Kristaps Bergfelds/Flickr)" src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/media.wbur.org/wordpress/11/files/2015/11/1112_smoking-ban-public-housing-flickr-624x416.jpg" title="The proposed ban on smoking in public housing would affect nearly 1 million households. (Kristaps Bergfelds/Flickr)" /><p>The Department of Housing and Urban Development announced today that it wants to ban smoking in public housing across the country, including in people&rsquo;s apartments. If adopted, the new rule would affect nearly a million households.</p></div><p><a href="http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2015/11/12/public-housing-smoking-ban" target="_blank"><em>Here &amp; Now&lsquo;s</em></a> Jeremy Hobson talks with&nbsp;Lourdes Castro Ramirez, principal deputy assistant secretary for the&nbsp;<a href="http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/programdescription/pih" target="_blank">Office of Public and Indian Housing</a>&nbsp;at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, about why HUD is proposing the ban, and how it would be enforced.</p></p> Thu, 12 Nov 2015 14:59:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/here-and-now/2015-11-12/federal-government-wants-ban-smoking-public-housing-113761 Despite mandate, affluent suburbs fail to build affordable housing http://www.wbez.org/news/despite-mandate-affluent-suburbs-fail-build-affordable-housing-113274 <p><p>A couple of years ago the congregation at Zion Lutheran Church gathered to decide what to do with five and a half acres of grassy open space surrounded by lush trees on the north side of its property. &nbsp;</p><p>The church has called the prosperous suburb of Deerfield home since the mid-1950s and most of the area is surrounded by large single-family homes. But Pastor David Kyllo said members ruled out building more McMansions.</p><p>&ldquo;We were a little bit concerned about that because that&rsquo;s really not giving back to the community,&rdquo; Kyllo said.</p><p>He says another idea bubbled to the surface: affordable housing.</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/lihtc1_151012_nm.jpg" title="David Kyllo is pastor of Zion Lutheran Church in Deerfield. The church wanted to build affordable housing on its property but dropped the proposal after heavy opposition from village residents. (WBEZ/Natalie Moore)" /></div><p>Zion Lutheran saw this as an opportunity to build housing for people who work in the area, but can&rsquo;t afford to live there. The congregation voted to go forward with the plan and a developer was brought on board. Called Zion Woods, it would consist of 48 apartments for families of four earning $45,000 a year with rents no more than $900 a month.</p><p>The church wanted to use Low-Income Housing Tax Credits, the largest federal initiative for building affordable housing. The LIHTC program, begun in 1986, gives developers the tax credits as an incentive to promote fair housing and integration.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><strong><a name="map"></a><a href="http://interactive.wbez.org/maps/lihtc/" target="_blank">MAP:&nbsp;Low-Income Housing Tax Credits in the Chicago metro area</a></strong></p><p>WBEZ analyzed where LIHTC credits have been used since the program&#39;s inception and found affordable housing tends to be clustered in areas with higher rates of poverty and racial segregation. That means fewer developments are being built in wealthy suburbs like Deerfield.</p><p>About 25 miles north of Chicago, the village is home to corporations like Walgreens and Baxter. It&rsquo;s population is 94 percent white, and the median income is $103,000. With access to good schools and jobs, Deerfield is considered an &ldquo;opportunity area&rdquo; for families in need of affordability and more amenities.</p><p>This was one of the reasons behind Zion Lutheran&rsquo;s proposed development. But it soon became clear that its benevolent mission didn&rsquo;t inspire everyone.</p><p>In May, the church presented its proposal at a public meeting of the Deerfield Plan Commission (<a href="http://deerfieldil.swagit.com/play/05142015-972" target="_blank">the video can be found here</a>) and opposition was fierce. Even before the meeting opponents sent&nbsp;<a href="http://www.deerfield.il.us/news/default.aspx?Archive=y&amp;ArticleId=395">dozens of letters</a>&nbsp;to the village, criticizing the development and a necessary zoning change.&nbsp;</p><p>Many neighbors cited concerns about density, traffic and declining property values. Others worried about school overcrowding (district officials have said those fears are unfounded). One resident speculated that children in the housing development will be &quot;prone to violence and theft.&quot;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">&#39;But Not Next Door&#39;</span></span></p><p>This isn&rsquo;t the first time Deerfield has been caught up in a controversy over new housing.</p><p>Back in 1959, the uproar over a proposed integrated subdivision <a href="http://archives.chicagotribune.com/1959/11/19/page/73/article/housing-plan-in-deerfield-under-attack" target="_blank">made national headlines</a>. Residents used racist comments to talk about the threat to their property values. Some even characterized integrated housing as an economic stab in the back. Ultimately, the homes were never built.</p><p>The entire episode was chronicled in the book&nbsp;<em><a href="http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/BookDetailsPL?bi=16521289779&amp;searchurl=tn%3Dbut+not+next+door%26sortby%3D20" target="_blank">But Not Next Door</a>&nbsp;</em>(1962), written by Harry and David Rosen, brothers and social workers who lived in Deerfield. It was referenced more than once by supporters of the Zion Woods project during the public hearing in May.&nbsp;</p><p>For decades after World War II, housing policy favored suburbs like Deerfield. There was federal financing for single family homes. New expressways helped facilitate white flight. The Fair Housing Act of 1968 was supposed to fix this. But nearly 50 years later, the law still has more bark than bite.</p><p>Deerfield Mayor Harriet Rosenthal insists the village is addressing the issue of affordable housing in its comprehensive plan.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s a roadmap for the future and if there&rsquo;s an opportunity for a site to be developed as affordable housing, the village would support it if it fit into the area well,&rdquo; she said. When asked if the village was actively trying to get that kind of development, Rosenthal responded: &ldquo;not at the moment, but we&rsquo;re not discouraging it.&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1_ZionWoods_Prefil_Material050815-75.jpg" title="A proposed rendering of the Zion Woods affordable housing development. The LIHTC-funded project includes 48 apartments for families of four earning $45,000 annually with rents no more than $900/month. (courtesy of Eckenhoff Saunders Architects)" /></div><p>In 2009, no LIHTC developments were in Chicago suburban opportunity areas. Today, that number is improving, but there is still resistance in many communities.</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="100" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/228056868&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Jessica Berzac is a developer who works particularly in the Northwest suburbs. She recently worked on an independent living development in Wheeling for people with various disabilities. The prosperous suburb is deemed an opportunity area. The median household income is higher than the region&rsquo;s average and there&rsquo;s high access to jobs, abundant commercial activity and good schools.</p><p>Berzac said initially neighbors objected and repeated familiar anxieties.</p><p>&ldquo;&#39;These people will wander the streets and change the character of my neighborhood. When I bought my home here 30 years ago, I expected to only be surrounded by single-family homes,&#39;&rdquo; Berzac recalled.</p><p>Originally, the Wheeling village board said no to the development. Berzac&rsquo;s company sued. A settlement was reached and recently Berzac finally closed on the property &mdash; five years after she began.</p><p>Another suburban affordable housing project, Myers Place in Mt. Prospect,&nbsp;breezed through for Berzac&rsquo;s team. It, too, is independent living with supportive services for the mentally ill and disabled.</p><p>Delfina Constanza has lived at Myers Place for two years. She&rsquo;s a domestic violence survivor and suffers from depression.</p><p>&ldquo;I was living in my car when I moved here,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Constanza had been on a waitlist to find supportive housing. Then she received a piece of good news in the mail.</p><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s when the letter came and I was like shocked. I couldn&rsquo;t believe it. Tears came to my eyes of course but because I was so happy. Finally, after so many years of waiting and waiting,&rdquo; Constanza said, adding that living at Myers Place &ldquo;has built my confidence a little bit more. I have established myself here. I&rsquo;m comfortable here. I feel safe here. And I like the surroundings as far as stores and library across the street.&rdquo;</p><p>She pays three hundred dollars a month in rent for her one bedroom apartment, and has on-site services to manage her depression.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">Lots of &lsquo;opportunity,&rsquo; little development</span></span></p><p>Getting suburbs in opportunity areas to embrace affordable housing can still be an uphill climb, but that&#39;s starting to change because of various federal and state policies.</p><p>This past July, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro visited Chicago to&nbsp;<a href="http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/press/press_releases_media_advisories/2015/HUDNo_15-084">announce a new rule</a>: locales that receive HUD funding must turn in a plan outlining their affordable housing strategies.</p><p>&ldquo;This represents a new partnership with cities and other public entities. One that makes it easier to fulfill the goals of the 1968 Fair Housing Act,&rdquo; Castro said at a former Chicago public housing site on the South Side.</p><p>Just a month before, the U.S. Supreme Court&nbsp;<a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/06/supreme-court-inclusive-communities/396401/">ruled that even unintentional policies</a> that segregate minorities in poor neighborhoods are in violation of the Fair Housing Act, which bans racial discrimination. The case centered on Low Income Housing Tax Credits.</p><p>These were two huge wins for affordable and fair housing that advocates say will have an impact in Illinois.</p><p>The Illinois Housing Development Authority allocates federal tax credits to sell to investors to generate private equity for affordable housing developments. That reduces the developer&rsquo;s debt who can in turn offer lower rents.</p><p>Excluding Chicago, IHDA allocates $23 million dollars in tax credits for the state.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;ve seen an abundance for affordable housing and tax credit projects in particular within certain communities and not others,&rdquo; said Mary Kenney, the recently departed executive director of IHDA.</p><p>Kenney said 10 years ago the agency started looking at unemployment and poverty. Officials analyzed where tax credits were going &mdash; and where they were not.</p><p>IHDA came up with a plan and won&rsquo;t accept affordable housing applications in places where there&rsquo;s an abundance. Developers now receive more points if their proposal is for an opportunity area.</p><p>This last go-round of low income tax credit awardees included one third in opportunity areas.</p><p>&ldquo;When I speak publicly, one of the first things I say to people is you walk by buildings I&rsquo;ve financed every single day and you don&rsquo;t know it,&rdquo; Kenney said.</p><p>Like the four-story, 39 unit Myers Place in Mt. Prospect where Delfina Constanza lives.</p><p>Kenney said other tools can nudge defiant communities. Illinois&#39;s Affordable Housing Planning and Appeal Act was enacted in 2003 to encourage local governments to incorporate affordable housing into their communities.</p><p>Yet many affluent municipalities, like Deerfield,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/highland-park/news/ct-hpn-suburbs-affordable-housing-mandate-tl-0813-20150807-story.html">skirt the law</a> citing home rule. The state said Deerfield is in violation but nonetheless faces no penalties.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s never had its first case. And it&rsquo;s largely because they don&rsquo;t have the teeth in terms of enforcement,&quot; Kenney said. &quot;I&rsquo;d love to see the [State Housing Appeals Board] empowered. If you asked me one easy thing we could do, we could tighten up the statute down in Springfield. We could make it applicable to home rule units.&quot;</p><p>Other advocates have argued for a regional government to help balance where affordable housing goes so municipalities don&rsquo;t act on their own.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">Just don&rsquo;t call it &lsquo;affordable housing&rsquo;</span></span></p><p>Gail Schechter, executive director of Open Communities, a north suburban group that promotes integration, is looking for new approaches. The group used to have &#39;housing&#39; in its name but dropped it to sound more inclusive.</p><p>&ldquo;If you&rsquo;re an advocate for low-income people and their right to live where they choose, and you believe in mixed-income housing, hammering that as it is, is not necessarily going to convince people,&rdquo; Schechter said.</p><p>Back at Zion Lutheran Church in Deerfield, Pastor Kyllo said people are definitely not convinced. He sits on a bench facing the open land where members had hoped to build 48 units of much-needed affordable housing.</p><p>Not long ago the congregation withdrew its proposal for Zion Woods.</p><p>Kyllo admits they capitulated to the pressure.</p><p>&ldquo;I wish that I could say otherwise. People have a discriminatory taste in their thoughts. I don&rsquo;t think they have a realistic look at what life could be like. I don&rsquo;t think they&rsquo;re willing to change and look at new ways of thinking. I don&#39;t think they are looking at the possibility about what a greater integration could mean for the community and the richness that could draw on,&rdquo; Kyllo said.</p><p>But he&rsquo;s not giving up. And when his team goes back to the drawing board, he says they&rsquo;ll take a lesson with them.</p><p>Don&rsquo;t use the term &ldquo;affordable housing.&rdquo;</p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="620" scrolling="no" src="http://interactive.wbez.org/maps/lihtc/" style="float: right; clear: right;" width="620"></iframe></p><p><em><a href="http://interactive.wbez.org/maps/lihtc/">Click for fullscreen map</a></em></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/nmoore-0" rel="author">Natalie Moore</a>&nbsp;is WBEZ&rsquo;s South Side Bureau reporter. Email her at&nbsp;<a href="mailto:nmoore@wbez.org">nmoore@wbez.org</a>. Follow Natalie on&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/natalieymoore">Twitter</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 12 Oct 2015 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/despite-mandate-affluent-suburbs-fail-build-affordable-housing-113274 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 HUD Secretary kicks off national tour in Chicago http://www.wbez.org/story/hud-secretary-kicks-national-tour-chicago-97107 <p><p>U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan was in Chicago Thursday to kick off a series of round table discussions detailing the recent $25 billion mortgage settlement between states attorney and five major lenders.</p><p>Attorney General Lisa Madigan was on the committee that negotiated the settlement and took part in the round table discussion on how to implement the settlement.</p><p>“I began here because there is no better example of how to do that work than Lisa Madigan,” said Donovan.</p><p>The settlement involves allegations of “robo-signing” of foreclosure documents and other fraudulent practices. The five lenders, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citibank and Ally Bank, agreed to pay $25 billion in mortgage relief. Illinois is set to receive $1 billion.</p><p>Donovan went on to praise Madigan’s decision to use an additional $100 million awarded to Illinois as part of the settlement to provide housing counseling and legal services for homeowners.</p><p>“There are other attorneys general that are weighing decisions right now about whether to use this funding to fill gaps in budgets,” said Donovan.</p><p>Since the mortgage settlement was announced in early February some 3,000 homowners have contacted Madigan’s office in hopes they might qualify for relief under the mortgage settlement. The settlement has not been officially filed in court yet. That could come as early as Friday or next week.</p><p>“Once that happens it will take a number of months until we start seeing relief being provided,” said Madigan.</p></p> Fri, 09 Mar 2012 00:23:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/hud-secretary-kicks-national-tour-chicago-97107 U.S. housing department awards Woodlawn $30 million http://www.wbez.org/story/us-housing-department-awards-woodlawn-30-million-91337 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-August/2011-08-31/001.JPG" alt="" /><p><p><audio class="mejs mediaelement-formatter-identified-1332483707-1" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-august/2011-08-31/emanuel-hud110831nm.mp3">&nbsp;</audio></p><p>The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has awarded $30 million to Chicago’s Woodlawn neighborhood to fight poverty.</p><p>A bulk of the grant will go toward redeveloping Grove Parc apartments on South Cottage Grove -- a HUD low-income housing development. The final product will be affordable and market-rate housing. But a key piece to the pilot program known as the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative is taking a holistic approach toward neighborhood improvement.</p><p>HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan came to Chicago Wednesday to announce that the $30 million will be used to leverage a total of $133 million that will go to Woodlawn. Community partners will provide afterschool programs and a community resource job center. Some money will also go to CeaseFire, a group that prevents street violence.</p><p>“The revitalization of a community can’t be something that happens to the residents of that community,” Donovan said. “It has to be something that happens for the residents of that community. And that means they can’t be displaced into a different community and not be able to return, not to benefit from the revitalization that takes place.”</p><p>This is a departure from previous federal housing policy. Under the Clinton Administration, HUD doled out HOPE VI money. The program was key to the Chicago Housing Authority’s Plan for Transformation, which tore down the city’s notorious public housing high-rises. One of the main critiques of the plan is that many former CHA residents haven’t been able to benefit from the new mixed-income communities.</p><p>Donovan said there will be one-for-one replacement housing at Grove Parc. That means all 500 low-income units will be redone and there will be a total of 900 units built for a mixed-income housing model.</p><p>Chicago is one of five cities receiving the money from the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative. Woodlawn is a strategic political choice. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel last week signed an agreement with the University of Chicago that pledges the school to help revitalize neighborhoods that surround the campus. Woodlawn lies just south of the university. Longtime Woodlawn stalwarts Rev. Byron Brazier, of Apostolic Church of God, and Rev. Leon Finney, of The Woodlawn Organization (TWO), are Emanuel’s South Side allies. Both were present for Wednesday’s announcement.</p><p>The plan’s present form didn’t happen on its own; Grove Parc residents had to fight for inclusion and against gentrification. Originally, HUD wanted to demolish Grove Parc and give tenants vouchers to move elsewhere. They balked and found a nonprofit willing to redevelop the rundown apartments, which TWO co-developed more than 40 years ago. Perseveration of Affordable Housing (POAH) received HUD approval last year and the Boston-based group is now in charge of the $30 million grant.</p><p>“The tenants in Grove Parc said they wanted some change,” said longtime activist Mattie Butler, executive director of Woodlawn East Community and Neighbors.</p><p>Butler said she supports the new initiative, even though there may be critics who want the money spent in other ways.</p><p>“When it comes down to people yelling and hollering about what ain’t right, I’ll be there to defend it,” Butler said.</p></p> Wed, 31 Aug 2011 19:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/us-housing-department-awards-woodlawn-30-million-91337 Woodlawn to become pilot in federal jobs, housing program http://www.wbez.org/story/woodlawn-become-pilot-federal-jobs-housing-program-91277 <p><p><audio class="mejs mediaelement-formatter-identified-1332483680-1" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-august/2011-08-30/woodlawn110831nm.mp3">&nbsp;</audio></p><p>U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan is expected to be in Chicago Tuesday to announce a $30 million grant for neighborhood revitalization in Woodlawn.</p><p>The federal housing agency says it’s changing its approach to reviving poverty-stricken neighborhoods. In the 1990s, under the Clinton Administration, HUD administered HOPE VI grants. The money was used nationally to tear down public housing developments deemed as distressed. In Chicago, the controversial program funded the demolition of high rises to make way for mixed-income housing.</p><p>Now the Obama Administration is touting what it calls the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative and Chicago is one of the five pilot cities. The program is supposed to integrate programs that address the needs for education, jobs and housing. The $30 million award in Woodlawn will go toward housing, both affordable and market rate, along with retail.</p><p>Much of the award will go to Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH), a nonprofit that is redeveloping Grove Parc on Cottage Grove Avenue. A few years ago HUD wanted to foreclose the dilapidated property. The low-income residents fought. Last year HUD struck a deal with POAH for a $33 million redevelopment effort. POAH has partnered with other local community organizations to redevelop the area at large.</p><p>The HUD announcement will come on the heels of another major South Side initiative. Last week the city signed an agreement with the University of Chicago that pledges the school to usher in neighborhood revitalization in surrounding neighborhoods.</p><p>The Woodlawn neighborhood lies just south of the university.</p></p> Wed, 31 Aug 2011 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/woodlawn-become-pilot-federal-jobs-housing-program-91277 Joliet lashes back at federal prosecutors over housing suit http://www.wbez.org/story/joliet-lashes-back-federal-prosecutors-over-housing-suit-90203 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-August/2011-08-05/Thanas.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>A top Joliet official is lashing back at federal prosecutors for suing his city to block condemnation of a low-income housing complex called Evergreen Terrace.<br> <br> The suit, a civil complaint filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Chicago, accuses Joliet of violating the Fair Housing Act, trying to “perpetuate segregation,” and attempting to “limit or reduce the number of Black or African-American residents residing within the city.”<br> <br> City Manager Tom Thanas called the suit a legal maneuver to “wear us down” by lengthening Joliet’s six-year legal battle for authority to condemn the complex. “This is at a time when Joliet doesn’t have the financial resources to take on big litigation,” Thanas said Friday afternoon. “We, like other municipalities around the country, are suffering with declining revenues and increasing expenses.”<br> <br> Thanas stuck by the city’s claim that Evergreen Terrace, a privately owned 356-unit development, has too many police and fire calls. But whether to keep fighting for condemnation authority is up to Joliet elected officials, Thanas added. “That’s something we’ll be reviewing with the mayor and city council,” he said.<br> <br> The complex houses about 765 low-income residents, nearly all African-American, and abuts the Des Plaines River across from downtown Joliet.<br> <br> Joliet’s attempts to close Evergreen Terrace stretch back more than a decade. The city tried to block refinancing for the complex but the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development sunk in millions of dollars.<br> <br> In 2005, Joliet asked a state court for condemnation authority. The HUD stake sent the condemnation bid into the federal court system, where it remains.<br> <br> The property’s owners, New West Limited Partnership and New Bluff Limited Partnership, filed a federal suit against the condemnation. A group of residents filed another federal suit against it. One of those residents, Teresa Davis, also filed a complaint with HUD, which led to Thursday’s U.S. Department of Justice suit.<br> <br> Joliet officials say the city for years has planned to redevelop the site for affordable housing and help relocate the residents.<br> <br> But Thursday’s suit claims “the city has no meaningful plan” for those aims.<br> <br> Patrick Johnson, an assistant U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, said Friday afternoon that prosecutors held discussions with Joliet officials before filing the suit. Johnson called those talks unsuccessful and said the sides have scheduled no other settlement negotiations. Next week, he added, the government will motion for its suit to be joined with the other federal suits aimed at preserving Evergreen Terrace. Johnson said the case’s discovery phase could last at least a year.<br> <br> Asked whether the government was just trying to wear down Joliet, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said prosecutors would have no further comment.<br> <br> An Evergreen Terrace resident, for his part, said the federal suit was already having an effect — bringing some positive attention to the complex. “I don’t see much wrong with the place,” said Elvis Foster, 53, who lives in a one-bedroom apartment and serves on the tenant council. “You’re close to downtown. You got the Joliet Junior College just two blocks away. And [the complex] is not feared as much as people would say.”</p></p> Fri, 05 Aug 2011 21:38:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/joliet-lashes-back-federal-prosecutors-over-housing-suit-90203 U.S. Attorney sues Joliet over housing discrimination http://www.wbez.org/story/us-attorney-sues-joliet-over-housing-discrimination-90154 <p><p>The federal government is suing the city of Joliet for housing discrimination.</p><p>The suit involves Evergreen Terrace, a low-income housing development with mostly black residents. Joliet wants to condemn the federally-subsidized apartments and relocate the tenants. But the U.S. Department of Justice says the city doesn’t have a realistic affordable housing plan that can accommodate the displaced residents.</p><p>A complaint filed in Chicago Thursday says getting rid of Evergreen Terrace would reduce the number of African-Americans living in Joliet and thereby perpetuate segregation in that city. Without Evergreen Terrace, civil rights attorneys say there’s a lack of comparable local housing. Nearly 800 residents live in the complex, which is across from the Des Plaines River and Harrah’s Casino.</p><p>The lawsuit seeks to stop the city from condemnation proceedings without ensuring adequate affordable housing in its place.</p><p>Joliet officials have previously called the building an eyesore and open-air drug market, and they followed through by officially labeling the building as blighted.</p><p>Contractors from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, however, found those conclusions lacked merit. The complaint cites comments from Joliet officials that publicly expressed hostility toward Evergreen Terrace, including one that called the building a “cancer on the civic body of Joliet.”</p></p> Fri, 05 Aug 2011 11:20:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/us-attorney-sues-joliet-over-housing-discrimination-90154 CHA residents want housing agency to supply more jobs http://www.wbez.org/story/cha-residents-want-housing-agency-supply-more-jobs-89205 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-July/2011-07-15/IMAG0095[1].jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The Chicago Housing Authority has more on its plate than just providing low-income housing. It’s in the employment game, too. In fact, it’s got a program called Section 3 that’s supposed to hire residents or their businesses. There should be plenty of work for people in that program.&nbsp;After all, CHA’s had more demolition and rebuilding than any public housing agency in the country, and that demand’s created scores of contracts and jobs over the past decade.</p><p>But many residents say they are being passed over for Section 3 opportunities.</p><p>The U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development started the Section 3 program in 1968, at the apex of the civil rights movement.&nbsp;The idea was to provide more than just shelter for families – the agency wanted to provide economic independence for people in public housing and in surrounding communities.</p><p>Locally, the Chicago Housing Authority hires Section 3 employees directly, or it works with contractors who then hire Section 3 participants.&nbsp;On paper, that’s how it’s supposed to work, but some people who stand to benefit are unsatisfied.</p><p>Section 3 is personal for William Harper.</p><p>HARPER: I’m 33 years old and I’m born and raised from Altgeld Gardens.</p><p>More than that, Harper is vice president of Meyers Corporation, a business he runs with his mother, who’s a resident at Altgeld, a sprawling public housing development on the southern edge of the city.</p><p>Harper’s company has a contract to landscape at Altgeld.</p><p>HARPER: I’ve done well with CHA. I just want to learn how I can establish a private property partnership.</p><p>Harper would like his family’s Section 3 business to get a permanent contract with CHA, one that would allow him to keep people hired all the time.</p><p>Instead …&nbsp;</p><p>HARPER: I look around at times and I see contractors out here and I wonder how they got the opportunity to get the job. So I go to the management office and I’m asking because I’m aware because this is how my business is going to stay open – by me providing my services. If I don’t have no services to provide, then it’s not a business.</p><p>Given the dreadful economy and the billion-plus dollar CHA renovations, residents feel they are not getting their cut of Section 3 work. Critics of the program share the same outlook.</p><p><em>ambi fades</em></p><p>WHITFIELD: The statute has no teeth and HUD does not appear to want to make it a priority. There’s a lot of talk about it…</p><p>Robert Whitfield is the attorney for the umbrella CHA tenants’ group. He used to work for HUD and says Section 3 is one area that doesn’t have stern regulations like other fair housing mandates in the agency.</p><p>WHITFIELD: There is no enforcement provision for HUD to do anything as far as referring it to the attorney general or any of the other sanctions that accompany all the other requirements that HUD enforces.</p><p>Whitfield says residents need to be able to sue.</p><p>WHITFIELD: It’s almost meaningless as far as residents? What is she or he going to do if he’s not hired, if he can’t go to court? Court has always been the mechanism for enforcing any statute.</p><p>CHA’s track record on Section 3 is a mixed bag. Several years ago, 30 percent of new hires were designated Section 3 – the federal minimum.&nbsp;But in 2008 and 2009, for example, more than 70 percent of CHA new hires were Section 3.&nbsp;Still, in those two years, hundreds of millions of dollars were awarded in contracts, yet none of those were Section 3-owned businesses.</p><p>Mary Howard is a vice present at CHA. She says a few years ago the agency took a closer look at Section 3 practices and made revisions to hold contractors responsible.</p><p>MOORE: If you were giving CHA a grade on its Section 3 program, what would you give it?</p><p>HOWARD: Quite honestly, in terms of compliance, I’d give us an A because we are compliant with the regulation. As to whether or not there’s no question residents have access to these opportunities, maybe a B-.</p><p>Howard says CHA has created a database for job matching but needs to do better on getting resident-owned businesses in the mix. And in the contract jobs, residents need to work the duration, not just stints here and there, as is the case now.&nbsp;But Howard cautions that Section 3 isn’t the only antidote for joblessness.</p><p>HOWARD: We don’t want anyone to sit and just wait for a Section 3 job. If this is the door into the work world for somebody that we want to make sure we get them there. But if someone does not get a Section 3 job, we want to make sure they are aware our providers are out there ready to help them obtain any employment or educational opportunity.</p><p>According to the law, HUD holds CHA accountable. But Section 3 has been tricky for HUD nationally. Two years ago only 20 percent of public housing agencies reported their Section 3 activity; today it’s 80 percent.</p><p>TRASVINA: This is an area that has long been underdressed and Section 3 has been underused for years.</p><p>John Trasvina is HUD’s assistant secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity.</p><p>TRASVINA: There are shortcomings in just the way the statue is written. It’s a difficult vehicle to do something that’s critically important. It’s important for HUD dollars to go not just into the buildings and infrastructure. It’s important to go into the people who live there and Section 3 promotes self-sufficiency.</p><p>Trasvina says HUD is working with Congress to amend Section 3’s language. In the meantime, HUD plans to dig deeper into Chicago’s policies. Attorney Robert Whitfield has formally requested an audit of CHA’s compliance.&nbsp;Meanwhile, CHA residents with a stake in the program are livid.&nbsp;At a recent CHA public meeting, they took turns at the microphone berating housing officials.</p><p>RESIDENT MONTAGE: Why you continue to hire them over and over again and they’re not hiring Section 3? So if you have any inkling of trying to solve this problem, you need to address it with us. The reason why I’m here, I came to see if anybody can tell me why nobody that stayed in the projects gets jobs.</p><p>The riled-up crowd had to be calmed.&nbsp;CHA board chair James Reynolds told the crowd Section 3 is the most important issue in the agency.</p><p>REYNOLDS: I understand the frustration and I’m going to see if we can implement a few changes.</p><p>Reynolds announced he’d like to change procurement so that some CHA work can bypass the formal bidding process.</p><p>This would include work such as landscaping and snow removal. Then CHA could choose to hire residents at competitive prices.&nbsp;Residents greeted his comments with a grateful round of applause.</p></p> Fri, 15 Jul 2011 15:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/cha-residents-want-housing-agency-supply-more-jobs-89205 Gary’s demolition derby: 101 buildings down, 300 to go http://www.wbez.org/story/evan-bayh/gary%E2%80%99s-demolition-derby-101-buildings-down-300-go <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//bayh 1_0.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>It&rsquo;s not every day you see a sitting U.S. senator take a sledgehammer to a building, but that&rsquo;s exactly what Evan Bayh did Monday on his last visit to Gary, Indiana, as a senator.</p><p>Like a kid hitting a piñata, Bayh gave four good swings at wooden planks of an old, burnt-out home on the city&rsquo;s northeast side.</p><p>&ldquo;There we go!&rdquo; Bayh said as the sledgehammer struck the plank with force.</p><p>Bayh said he wants the structure to come down so neighborhood children could have a better environment to live in.</p><p>The house Bayh helped demolish represents the city&rsquo;s 101st to come down, thanks in large part to more than $2 million HUD provided the city in recent months. Back in June 2009, Bayh had visited the same neighborhood with Ron Sims, Deputy Secretary at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The two toured abandoned houses and storefronts to see what more can the federal government do to turn around decades of disinvestment and decay. The answer they came up with, like so many times before in Gary&rsquo;s history, was money.</p><p>&ldquo;I was very touched to see those children growing in an environment like this. I was touched to see some of the homeowners trying to do the right thing but struggling because they were living next to abandoned properties,&rdquo; Bayh said. &ldquo;Those are the people we need to help.&rdquo;</p><p>Gary officials hope the HUD money can be used to tear down up to 400 structures and, eventually, make way for new development.</p><p>Gary Mayor Rudy Clay said the city appreciates the efforts of Indiana&rsquo;s outgoing senator.</p><p>&ldquo;(Bayh) lit the spark to make all of this happen. He realized that Northwest Indiana can&rsquo;t be all that it can be without Gary, Indiana, being all it can be,&rdquo; Clay said.</p><p>The mayor said tearing down the abandoned structures reduces crime and makes it easier to attract new development.</p><p>&ldquo;Gary&rsquo;s going to become a better city because of this,&rdquo; Clay said.&nbsp;</p><p>Bayh&rsquo;s visit to Gary caps off more action than just tearing down buildings in Gary. This was the Democrat&rsquo;s last visit to Northwest Indiana before retiring from the U.S. Senate on Jan. 1. The visit comes just days after senators voted to repeal the Don&rsquo;t Ask Don&rsquo;t Tell law, which barred gays from serving openly in the military. Bayh voted in favor of the repeal.</p><p>&ldquo;My attitude was if somebody wants to give their life to this country and defend America, that&rsquo;s good enough for me,&rdquo; Bayh said. &ldquo;Their personal life is their own. I think it&rsquo;s a step in the right direction.&rdquo;</p><p>Bayh said his relationship to the people of Northwest Indiana will not change because he&rsquo;s leaving the Senate.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;ve come to Northwest Indiana since I was a little boy and that&rsquo;s not going to change. I&rsquo;m just going to be doing it in a different capacity,&rdquo; Bayh said. &ldquo;I love the people of Northwest Indiana and I&rsquo;m going to be looking forward to that continuing for a long time.&rdquo;</p><p>Republican Dan Coats will replace Bayh in the Senate.</p></p> Tue, 21 Dec 2010 12:35:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/evan-bayh/gary%E2%80%99s-demolition-derby-101-buildings-down-300-go