Monday, April 18, 2011

Speaker on HUD and Affordable Housing Activism

1916-1970 Great Migration - blacks moving north to Chicago and other northern cities

7 million African Americans moved north: 500,000 moved to Chicago to find jobs

Racial Segregation through Policy and Violence

  • restrictive covenants;
  • redlining
  • blockbusting

Chicago Housing Authority established in 1937 to oversee public housing.
Welfare for the wealthy - Federal Aid for the Highway Act of 1956 - led to suburbanization and home ownership subsidies

Trumbull Park Riots 1953

In 1966 Dorothy Gautreaux and other CHA residents brought a suit against the CHA, in Gautreaux v. Chicago Housing Authority. It was a long-running case that in 1996 resulted in the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) taking over the CHA and the Gautreaux Project in which public housing families were relocated to the suburbs

Chicago Housing Authority eventually tore down highly concentrated high rises. Many received section 8 housing vouchers - if they qualify to pay 30% of income (for those making under $25,000 per year for a family of 4).

North side of Chicago has never been very integrated. Vouchers don't cover affordable rentals.
Larger trend on relying more toward privately managed apartment buildings.

There's no housing shortage right now.

Lathrop Homes Project (along Chicago River)

300 Empty Units? Open them UP! Lathrop Homes residents are Ready With a Vision

Strategies for battling with Chicago Housing Authority:
1. testify at CHA hearings
2. many meetings - find allies withing private developers and yuppie neighbors
3. policy proposal - got funding to have architects envision re-hab
4. Lathrop Maintenance Survey
mold issues found; housing shown to be uninhabitable to CHA who was forced to make some renovations without removing the residents

Northwestern University has joined the Lathrop Connection Project to try to save the Lathrop Homes. "Right of Return" granted to some public housing if you left earlier, a decade ago, when many folks were evicted. No communities on the North side of Chicago are eager to have public housing.

What does public housing mean for property values? What about Winnetka? There is very little evidence that it has a negative effect on stable affluent communities.

Why was Cabrini Green torn down? Interests of residents was not put first. Our very strong mayor appoints committees who basically must rubber-stamp what the mayor's office wants. Structural design of the high rise apartments was not ideal. No way for parents to monitor children. City farm remains, which is a public garden project.

Do you foresee change with a new mayor? Rham Emmanuel was not present at many meetings.
Wants to make Chicago a global city. His initiatives may not deal with public housing. Do you see problems with state budget cuts? Yes, privatization is expected to replace "entitlements".

watch video:
Chicago Housing Protest Feb 25 2011

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