Affordable Housing, Affordable Neighborhoods homepage: Information, reports, discussions
and links to those who think, advocate, provide such services.

This page is presented by Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference and its website www.hydepark.org. HPKCC is a founding partner of the HP Coalition for Equitable Community Development
Join the Conference, help support our work.


*****Coalition for Equitable Community Development's COMMISSIONED REPORT, "Hyde Park-South Kenwood Affordable Rental Market Study" - go to http://www.hpkcoalition.org.
HPKCC was one of the financial supporters.
For more information from HPKCC on this study and CECD, visit our "About Steering Committee Coalition" (CECD) page.
Maroon ties some school underutilization to rent-burdening in HPK- http://chicagomaroon.com/2013/03/01/hyde-parks-high-rent-fuels-local-cps-under-enrollment/. See Part I in Feb 26 2013 Maroon on the CECD report- http://chicagomaroon.com/2013/02/26/part-i-rent-an-increasing-burden-for-hpers/
Housing fact sheet 1
April 18 2014 Maroon analysis of housing rental costs for students in the area- http://chicagomaroon.com/2014/04/18/student-housing-part-i-a-primer-on-pricing/
Urban League March 2016 report on segregation in Chicago. http://www.thechicagourbanleague.org/cms/lib07/IL07000264/Centricity/Domain/1/CULtivate%20Part%201_Residential%20Segregation%20and%20Housing-Transportation_Final%20Draft_3-1-16_10P.pdf

December 20, Tuesday, 6 pm. MAC Properties community meeting on proposed development at 53rd and Cornell. East View Tower lobby, 52-- S. Hyde Park Blvd. (at 53rd).

February 18, Saturday, 1-3 pm. Coalition for Equitable Community Development annual meeting. Renters adn rezl estate cos. on the state, parameters, and affordability of housing in Hyde Park-Kenwood. Augustana Church, 5500 S. Woodlawn.

Here is a link to video of CECD's March 5, 2016 forum on Gentrification, with Jesse Mumm.
https://youtu.be/zytW_Wlx3AY

HPKCC, with CECD and the Southeast Coalition testified at the Metra board meeting July 22 2015 to push for a real seamless transfer system, as in the intent of the 2011. Read background, testimony and results, and media articles in Metratransferability. We believe this is an affordability and social justice issue. See letter sent to media in November on Metra Electric update.

New video of the Hyde Park Transitional Housing Project- http://vimeo.com/91112409 Their address: http://www.hpthp.org.

Pat Wilcoxen, President of CECD reports this important City Hyde Park opportunity for seniors or other moderate-income persons and couples July 9, 2015. The rental office for City Hyde Park is in the 1300 block of East 53rd St. (MAC Properties).

The Coalition for Equitable Community Development (CECD) is concerned that Hyde Park/Kenwood remain a racially and economically diverse community. To do that, we must have some affordable rental housing.
We are currently looking forward to the opening of City Hyde Park (corner of 51st & Lake Park Ave.). They have begun taking applications for occupancy this Winter. There will be a total of 36 affordable studio & 1 bedroom apartments in City Hyde Park.
Half of them will be rented to 1 person households with incomes below $31,920 or 2 person households with incomes below $36,480. And the other half to households of 1 below $26,600 or 2 persons below $30,400.
This location is ideal for seniors....an air conditioned elevator building, on good public transportation routes, with shopping nearby. If someone you know is interested we would be happy to talk with them, or they can contact City Hyde Park directly. We can also talk about additional plans for other units elsewhere with up to 2 bedrooms and slightly higher income caps.
The rents for the higher income households cited above will be $736 for studio apartments and $790 for 1 bedrooms. The lower income limits above will have rents of $613 for studios and $647 for 1 bedrooms. In all cases the residents will be responsible for their own utilities including heating, cooling, cooking gas and other electric.
Pat Wilcoxen, CECD President phone: 773-643-7495 email: pwilcoxen@comcast.net.

March 18 2015 City Council adopted a revised ordinance (ARO) on set asides in developments involving city-owned land or requiring a zoning change or city financial assistance such as in a TIF district. The ordinance was being amended to satisfy developers as it was being passed and more amendments may be offered in coming months. Changes including holdbacks on putting new fines (fees into an affordable housing fund) in many cases, and a delay on effect for 180 days. Downtown: 10 percent affordable units- 25% either on site or within 2 miles in downtown or a high income area. The rest: fees of $115K to $140K in first year of ordinance and $150K-175K. Condo units downtown can build on-site, off-site in the city or pay into a fund that gradually dots up to $225K per units. High income areas outside downtown will not have a phase-in. 25 must be on-site or within 2 mile or a similar or higher income area, an meet the rest of the requirement via fee of $100-125K per.
In low an moderate income areas, 25% must be on-site and the remaining into the fund at $50,000 per additional unit. A few developers or nonprofits are looking at using the generated funds to develop affordable housing-- so far only 189 were built using the old ordinance/

May 19, 2015: National Low Income Housing Coalition. National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) released Out of Reach 2015. The report finds that nationally the housing wage, or the hourly wage a person working 40 hours per week would need to earn in order to afford a modest, two-bedroom rental unit, is $19.35.

At 2.7 times the federal minimum wage, this means that a minimum wage earner would need to work 86 hours per week to afford a one-bedroom apartment and 107 hours per week to afford a two-bedroom apartment. In fact, there is no state where someone earning the minimum wage can afford housing while working 40 hours per week or less.
Short link: www.nlihc.org/oor. Full: www.nlihc.org/sites/default/files/oor_2015_FULL.pdf.

City Hyde Park as of March 2015 has/will soon have a wait list, including for its affordable units, for City Hyde Park rental development. Please take Coalition for Equitable Community's Survey (with info on eligibility) if you might be interested in this.
http://www.surveymethods.com/EndUser.aspx?84A0CCD485C2D8D587

Low Income Housing Coalition March 2015 Housing Gap Spotlight report summary and link

Nearly one-quarter of all renters in the United States have income at or below 30% of the area median income, and three-quarters of these extremely low income renters are forced to spend more than half of their income on the cost of rent and utilities due to the ongoing shortage of affordable housing. In fact, there are just 31 affordable and available rental units for every 100 extremely low income renter households, according to NLIHC’s new report, Housing Spotlight: Affordable Housing is Nowhere to be Found for Millions.

The report provides a detailed look at the housing needs of low income renter households across the country by examining the gap between the supply and demand for affordable rental units at the national and state level, as well as for the 50 metropolitan areas with the largest renter populations. No state has more than 56 units affordable for every 100 extremely low income renter households and no metropolitan area has more than 47.

Current data show that homeownership rates and rental vacancy rates are at historic lows, factors which both drive up rents. At the same time, incomes are only just beginning to increase slightly. Furthermore, the bulk of new multifamily units are only affordable to middle or high income households, and there is a continued loss of public and assisted housing through demolition and conversion to market-rate developments.

Taken together, these trends indicate that without government intervention at the federal, state, and local level, the gap will keep growing.

Click here to download Housing Spotlight: Affordable Housing is Nowhere to be Found for Millions (PDF).

For More Information
Members of NLIHC are eligible for additional assistance with the data in this and other reports at no charge. Please contact Megan Bolton, NLIHC Research Director, at megan@nlihc.org or 202-662-1530 x 245.

About Housing Spotlight
Housing Spotlight is a series of research briefs from the National Low Income Housing Coalition that uses data from different sources to highlight a variety of housing issues. Learn more at www.nlihc.org/library/housingspotlight.

 

Changes to the Affordable Housing requirements in developments, effectively requiring a higher percentage or all-onsite or no zoning approval, may be proposed in 2014 by the Dept. of Hsg... This may divide the affordable housing community-- some, such as Coalition for the Homeless say it would dry up the set-aside fund resulting in less housing being built for those who could not afford set-asides and less money for subsidized renters, vs. Chicago Rehab network which says affordable set asides should be onsite to encourage mixed use rather than income-segregated communities and enclaves. The issue was last seriously revisited in 2007 when then-Ald. Toni Preckwinkle inter alia fought for a higher and more enforceable percentage in developments. Builders argue that Loop development would be shut down, but there would be less impact in outlying neighborhoods.

What's affordable in Chicago isn't necessarily what is is for the "AREA"- and its families that are being squeezed out (what does this say for schools future as well as Chicago being welcoming to other than the rich?

May 2013 release by Chicago Rehab Network- one of several reports to come

CRN Releases City of Chicago Housing Fact Sheet
As the first in a series of releases towards the Affordable Housing Fact Book publication on City and Statewide housing data, the City of Chicago Housing Fact Sheet reflects trends from a demographic and market perspective.

Notable findings:

•The loss of 200,000 residents is largely made up of family households.
•The Chicago median household income is $46,877 in contrast to the 6-county HUD area median income of $75,100.
•Households with income over $75,000 grew by 100,000.
•50% of all renters are cost burdened which is an increase of 32.5%. Half of all homeowners pay over 30% of their income towards mortgage payments. This is an increase of 78% since 2000.

In a longstanding partnership with the UIC's Voorhees Center for Neighborhood Improvement and funded by the Chicago Community Trust, CRN's unique analysis combines information from 2000 and 2010 Decennial censuses and the 2010 American Community Survey.

"The Future of Low-Income Subsidized Housing in Chicago." CHA 2012 Strategies and Recommendations Report including on updating the Plan for Transformation. Report: http://www.uic.edu/cuppa/voorheesctr.

Read about, find link to the new city ordinance for vacant buildings to affordable housing.

Read about the interests and activities of the Affordable Housing group from community organizations as at the March 2012 meeting or HPK organizations convened by HPKCC.

Return links: home. HPKCC programs home. Affordability Hot Topics. Hot Topics home. Site contents. Helpline for listing of housing service and advocacy groups.
New: Toward a Hyde Park Village page. Read CECD July 2010 Newsletter. Weatherization help ops soon available.
See about Woodlawn Choice Neighborhood (in Woodlawn News) and UC-city MOU re infill housing and Employee Assisted Housing.

Access DePaul Housing Institute's study of Cook County Rental Housing 2012 in CECD website (just the key data tables); full from http://www.ihs.depaul.edu (having trouble locating it).

See CECD website for more reports including on the Feb. 25 2012 forum on the state of affordable rental housing in Hyde Park and Kenwood (based in part on Institute of Housing at DePaul studies), which led to commissioning of a Market Survey on affordable rental housing in Hyde Park-Kenwood (underway and including by assoc. prof. Janet Smith of UIC Voorhees Ctr.) HPKCC is one of the underwriters. About: http://www.hpkcoalition.org/MarketSurveyHeraldReleaseJuly2012.htm.
CECD website is - http://www.hpkcoalition.org.

*****July 2012 study showing need for teeth in regulation of foreclosed rental buildings reinforces aldermen looking at new ordinance- see in Foreclosures page. The principal conductor of this study is the Lawyers' Committee for Better Housing.

See in Antheus/MAC page the widely differing opinions and experiences about affordable vs upscale and in between, and the recent explosion over the dismissal of workers (referred to by residents as family-- unusual in Hyde Park?) in Regents Park, recently acquired by Antheus/MAC.

There are affordable rental options for seniors, but you have to search and work at it.

Planning a new homelessness program fall 2011 and beyond- see below.

New leasing agent for MAC Obaid Khan. okhan@macapartments.com.

Use the following link to videos of the Poverty, Promise, Possibility series of UC Civic Knowledge:
http://news.uchicago.edu/tag/series/poverty-promise-and-possibility

National Housing Trust Fund and Low Income Housing bill came up in Senate week of June 8. Still being tweaked? Info from an advocacy group. More
Real dope on exemptions and this year's tax bills and exemptions

City and Illinois Housing Assistance programs:

Program Description:
EHAP provides grants to low-income homeowners to repair roofs, porches and heating units that are in serious disrepair. Owners of 1-4 unit properties in Chicago must live in the property and have no other means to pay for the repairs. If the property is sold within one year of the repairs, the City will require the homeowner to repay the grant amount.

Heating Unit Repair/Replacement: From November 1 through March 31, improvements are limited to the repair and replacement of heating units. Applicants should bring the required documents to the Department of Housing and Economic Development to apply.

Roof and Porch Repair/Replacement Applicants must call Chicago's City Services 311 or the Department of Housing and Economic Development's (HED) customer service phone line (312) 744-3653 on January 2 at 9am-3pm or until capacity is reached to be placed on the intake list for services. Roof and porch repair and replacement will be performed between April 1 and October 31. Appointments will be given to applicants whose names are on the intake list only. HED will accept applicants based on available funding and the following eligibility requirements.
•All services are provided on a first-come, first-served basis.
•Assistance is limited to homes that have not received prior assistance through this program.
•Applicants must be owner-occupants and reside in the property for at least one year before applying for assistance.

Household Size
Maximum Income

1
$26,550

2
$30,000

3
$34,150

4
$37,900

5
$40,950

6
$44,000

7
$47,000

8 or more
$50,050


* Income limits are based on the Chicago-Naperville-Joliet, IL Hud Metro Area (HMFA) median family income as of April 17, 2012, effective until superseded. Note: Income disclosure is needed for all owners on title and their income will be calculated as part of the household income. Department of Housing and Economic Development 121 North LaSalle Street 10th Floor Chicago, IL 60602 Call 311 for more information

Illinois Foreclosure Prevention Network:

The Network is a FREE, one-stop resource to connect homeowners with important tools, including access to counseling services, legal advice, mortgage payment assistance programs such as the Illinois Hardest Hit Program, foreclosure prevention events, and tips on how to avoid mortgage fraud. Visit http://www.keepyourhomeillinois.org or call 1-855-KEEP-411 (toll-free).

Illinois Hardest Hit Program:
The Illinois Hardest Hit Program is a key component of Illinois Foreclosure Prevention Program. It offers temporary help to homeowners faced with unemployment or underemployment to catch up on their payments and keep their home.

TO COALITION FOR EQUITABLE COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT WEBSITE. December 2011 Newsletter
To our page on CECD (Coal Equit Comm Dev.) and other community coalitions for affordable housing. Senior perspectives and issues. Hunger issues-and how all tie together. Dealing with Homelessness issues.
To Affordable Housing in Hyde Park April 29 2006 Forum, report from Conf. Reporter. More internal and external links in the new Coalition's page. Their new website: hpkcoalition.org.
*****To May 19, 2007 Hyde Park-Kenwood Housing Summit
To HPK Coalition for Equitable Development Organization page. Held its inaugural meeting and forum December 5, 2007 and meetings since. Their website: hpkcoalition.org.
October 08 mtg. February 09 mtg.
Cooperatives and Condominiums
http://www.povertyinitiative.uchicago.edu. includes a calendar.

There are many links for all kinds of housing needs in Helpline, including immediate and interim need and helplines.

To Hyde Park Village
To a survey of Hyde Park high rises parameters, from Antheus/MAC Properties: HISTORIC AND MODERN HYDE PARK BUILDINGS...
To What's in the stimulus package and Housing Stabilization Plan and city plans for these for housing
To Foreclosures
To Antheus/MAC Properties page. See below: Community. Mtg. with Eli Ungar held May 6, Coal. Equit. Dev. meeting held May 14 2007,08.
To Ending Homelessness/Creating Affordability. Condo Conversions & High Rises.
To Government Services
(both of the latter including programs for disabled, seniors and low/fixed income in housing; see also Seniors' and Other Tax Programs). Disabilities Task Force. Helpline-visit "Housing". Community Resources includes links to many region-wide support and study organizations; visit also Community Nonprofits.
The Olympics Community Benefits Agreements page has a model for advocacy: Draft for Olympic Village area, and studies of impacts on other hosts including housing. Olympics home. Olympic Impacts on Housing Oct. 2008 forum and info.
In this page: basic statistics to know, article on Hyde Park income diversity, trend in Sept. O8 Reporter.

As of April 1, 2012 there will be a new one-stop website for all recorded information on all property in Cook County:
www.cookcountypropertyinfo.com.

Condo buildings' garbage rebate- only owner-occupied units that received the rebate Jan 2009- Nov 9, 2011 will be eligible, and the amount goes down to zero over the next four years.

Two large, fairly affordable Hyde Park buildings were put on the market by IRMCO- The Versailles at 53rd and Dorchester and The Flamingo at 5500 South Shore Dr. Antheus passed on them, TLC bought them both (letting some door staff go, replaced in the Flamingo by a buzzer system, though some staff was brought back. )

Antheus will have a new TIF to subsidize their development at 51st and Lake Park. This will include a mix of market rate and 20% affordable units (indistinguishable). Coalition for Equitable Community Development praised Antheus for planning there the first affordable units in Hyde Park in many years. Antheus did not commit to universal accessibility. More in City Hyde Park page.

Antheus bought the huge Regents Park, and after a fuss by tenants and others rehired a significant number of the employees, keeping the unions.
Antheus is seeking financing for the City Hyde Park project at Village Center, (including any tax increment on its property up to 10 M and to have at least 173 upscale units, for now rental. If it gets TIF money, a proportion has to be set aside as affordable.

In January 2012 the city released funds for 41 affordable housing projects.

The Del Prado is open and upscale, so far only partially filled. Rehab of the upscale Shoreland continues.

At the end of August 2011, announced was that Chicago won one of 5 Choice Neighborhood Initiative Grants, in this case $30.5 million for GROVE PARC and its manager PoAH. It's directed to Grove Parc by Mayor Emanuel to help make this 504 unit complex south of 61st at Cottage Grove an anchor. It is part of the MOU agreement of the city (interagency) and U of C for planning and redevelopment of the whole area and is tied by the Mayor to his foreclosure program that targets inter alia West Woodlawn and to efforts to focus on rebuilding communities including jobs and not just spreading money around. The $30.5m is hoped to leverage up to $272 m.

ANTHEUS PURCHASE OF THE SUTHERLAND FOR RENOVATION AND PARTIAL, TERM-LIMITED AFFORDABLE UNITS, and the controversy over helping current tenants who have to vacate bring much of the issues and complexities to the fore. Visit the Antheus page and click Sutherland. The Sutherland's last tenants are gone as of mid September 2010. A sour taste was left according to some tenants, partly over confusion - esp. from Heartland employee's different advice - on whether to pay August rent and consequences of not doing so. It remains unclear from reports whether MAC did or did not tacitly use paying the rent as a condition for receiving the assistance and over whether the eviction notices some got are fully expunged. Residents were able to take with them much of the Low Income Trust Fund affordable subsidies attached the building-- a unique government concession. but such subsidies as 30% affordable stay with the building, at least through 2018. The Sutherland should open renovated in 2013.

Do you know? Housing and transportation are a family's biggest expenses

Meetings

 

____________

closed

Is mixed income integrated inner city housing working? From Hyde Park Herald digest December 4, 2015

By SAM RAPPAPORT
Staff Writer

University of Chicago (U. of C.) professor Robert Chaskin and Case Western Reserve University professor Mark Joseph kicked off the release of their new book, “Integrating The Inner City: The Promise and Perils of Mixed-Income Public Housing Transformation,” Thursday evening at the Newberry Library, 60 W. Walton St., with a discussion on the history of Chicago’s mixed-income housing initiatives.

Neil Guterman, dean of the School of Social Service Administration at U. of C., introduced the authors work as “the most thorough examination of mixed-income housing to date.”

Thursday night’s discussion between Chaskin and Joseph was moderated by WBEZ reporter and Hyde Park resident Natalie Moore.

In the research leading up to “Integrating The Inner City,” Chaskin and Joseph focused on three Chicago mixed-income housing developments: West Haven Park Tower, 100 N. Hermitage Ave.; Park Boulevard, 3506 S. State St.; and Oakwood Shores, 3859 S. Vincennes Ave.

During the discussion, the authors said that Chicago’s mixed-income housing developments have succeeded in some ways and failed in others. For instance, the authors said that while mixed-income housing offers residents quality apartment units and access to a safe living environment, African-American and low-income tenants often feel as if they’re under constant surveillance and in perpetual risk of being pushed out of the complex.

In describing his and Chaskin’s academic mission, Joseph said, “Our project is looking for a glimmer of hope in mixed-income, racially diverse communities.”

“Integrating The Inner City” is available for purchase at Seminary Co-op Bookstore, 5751 S. Woodlawn Ave.

_______________________________________

Cook County rental update January 2012 read at http://www.ihs.depaul.edu.

A recent Institute of Housing Studies at DePaul study shows that between 2005 and 2011 the amount of affordable unit backlog went up to 180,000 and is likely to be over 230,000 by 2020. Three Quarters of households making under $35,000 a year are spending over 30% on housing, and the rent and rent share keep going up- especially on lower income. 40 percent of Cook residents are renters and the proportion is going up. "Cook County renters earn substantially lower incomes than owners, are younger than owners and are earning much less on average compared to a decade ago. Between 2000 and 2009, real income for the county's 25-and-under renter households declined by over 25 percent" says report author Geoff Smith. The problem starts with bank loans to buyers of buildings of under 100 units- there are fewer and fewer such loans, but that is the largest sector of rental buildings. It's even harder to get financing to build new rental buildings. Even for high end, where the rents are higher now than before the recession and the buildings targeted to young professionals (with small or no families?). For both low and upper income, it's tied to employment and employability-- investors and owners are worried they won't get their money back.

CECD is spearheading proposals and fundraising for a rental housing stock and need survey of Hyde Park and Kenwood. This is an outcome of HPKCC's convening of community organizations in October 2011. HPKCC in February pledged $2,000 toward such a survey.

Senior freeze: many are losing it now that renewal is not automatic (legislators said many abuse). Local advocates will ask legislators about experience once the deadline has passed.

The real deal on tax exemptions, from the County Assessor's Office [condo-coops- form to fill out extensions will come with bill/explanation in January]

Homeowner Exemption amounts that were applied to tax bills were correct. Once a homeowner receives the Homeowner
Exemption, they will continue to receive the exemption every year if their residency does not change. There is no need
to file a Homeowner Exemption Certificate of Error form, unless the Homeowner Exemption does not appear on
a second-installment tax bill.

Taxpayers are not required to visit our downtown or suburban branch offices if their exemption does not appear on their bill.
Homeowner Exemption Certificates of Error forms may be downloaded from our Web site www.cookcountyassessor.com
or they contact our office to have a form mailed to them. Applications may also be returned via mail.

Time permitting, taxpayers may receive an adjusted bill – otherwise they can pay their bill in full and receive a refund
for the amount of the exemption.

2011. More SRO's are closing partly due to their deterioration and code violations. This reduces the amount of housing of last resort, last barrier to homelessness. However, many think it is smarter and a better long-range solution to put monies into newer "supportive housing" which puts people in proximity to the services they need, supported by a mix of city, state, and federal housing programs and philanthropic funds. Renters pay about 30 percent of income.
Note that many especially with disabilities cannot afford a deposit plus one month's rent. Lumped with this, despite a recent major agreement signed by the Governor in conjunction with new state laws enabling people to move out of nursing homes to community based care, the hesitancy or refusal of many or most of the premium healthcare providers to sign up for the new Medicare program seems to be greatly disrupting the ability of many to keep their caregivers and services, in turn snowballing into housing problems.

Where do you find local trends in foreclosures? go to EveryBlock, run by by the Chicago based Woodstock Institute. As part of the source arrangement, you will not get by address-- you will have to take the PIN numbers given in the foreclosures-by-block to the city's website. Every Block allows you to assess by city, community area, which is the first 2 digits (Hyde Park 51-59 is #41, Kenwood incl. E. HP north of 51st, is #49) and census track (usually 1-2 blocks wide). There are a couple of ways to sort and map the data, although it only comes up a section at a time. Code numbers in which the last 4 digits are 0s are single family homes, those that include numbers are condos. The other category is multi-family buildings-- those digits (If this writer understands right) if 0s are rental, if numbered condo and maybe coop. About 35,000 homes are presently officially foreclosed in Chicago alone.

Illinois Indiana Regional Organizing Network (IIRON) Fair Economy Training and Leadership, of which a large component is SOUL (Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation) holds rallies and direct action and seeks congregation-based strategies to fight foreclosures directly, including "Holding Banks Accountable."

Debt Relief Stimulus Eligibility Form.
Connecting Americans with ethical solutions for Credit and Mortgage Crisis, listed under America’s Consumer Bill of Rights.

Understanding the effects that a nationwide recession can impose on the People of America can sometimes be difficult and disheartening.

In the search for a solution to overcome credit card debt and mortgage crisis, many Americans are falling into Bankruptcy and losing their homes. If you are having difficulty making payments to your unsecured debt obligations or your current home mortgage payment, fill out the stimulus pre-approval form at:

http://gov-usdebtstimulus.info/ From administration@gov-usdebtstimulus.info.

Only less than 200,000 Americans received financial assistance in 2009, with a Bill that required billions of dollars to support. Many more are still in need of assistance. See if you qualify for assistance.

Short bits

June 2012- complaints about Regents affordability go on as Antheus raises rent, ends student discount

According to the June 27 Herald, at least one student found upon attempt to renew his lease that the rent was increasing $400 a month and there is no more student discount once the lease has ended. Antheus' representative told the Herald that Regents rents were being brought up to those of similar buildings, with rents across Hyde Park going up. However, the student said he signed a lease in a nearby East Hyde Park building with comparable or better amenities (though the apartment was a little smaller) at his previous rent. The term of Regents rents is one year. The student asserted that Regents had been UC staff and student friendly, but that many were now being priced out.

The Wilmington at 4901 S. Drexel, 122 units, which was in bankruptcy and troubled, has been bought by Pangea Real Estate. They say they intend to upgrade the units and service and keep the building full but keep as many current tenants as possible. A number of the units are section 8.

June 6, 2012 Herald carried an article about how much the mid South section represented by zips 60615 and 60637 is "underwater." Based on Zillow, a clearinghouse that takes mortgage data from Transunion based on negative equity, loan-to-value ratios, and delinquency rates, it reports the following. South Kenwood and Hyde Park represent about half the homes in each zipcode. 60615: 41% have values below what is owed of which 15.5% is behind (6.37% of all homes in the zip).
For 60637, 55% have values below what is owed of which 21.2% is behind (11.72% of all homes in the zip). Experts are quoted as saying the situation is much less worse in HPK, where the price peak and hot sales at 2006 were much less pronounced than in the surrounding areas. Prices here have largely stabilized since (with some exceptions mainly in association buildings), partly because of the adjacency of the university and a large stock of unique properties.

Bad news: the United Methodist diocese has closed St. James at 46th and Ellis. This mean the soup kitchen, and social agencies are seeking new space, which is not readily available. Cambridge School will move to the old St. Ambrose school building.

Village Center and affordability: August 19 2010 the Chicago Plan Commission approved the project (next: Zoning Committee then City Council in Sept. ) according to Chicago Talks and an update from an Antheus representative, who also said that the affordable component is made difficult by shifting city rules-- the purpose shouldn't be to give a developer a wink and someone a bargain at the developer's expense so than sell high later. Antheus is undecided at this point whether and how much rental would be in the project. Rental would have to include affordable.

"Sour" Home Chicago? A watered down ordinance passed - see immediately below. Meanwhile, several residents of 5000 East End are suing the board over conversion from coop to condo that involves extremely steep assessment, and former residents of the Sutherland claim ordinances were violated by former owner and now co-manager Heartland and new owner Antheus and that residents are owed monies.

20 percent annual of citywide total TIF money proposed for affordable housing- City Council hearing July 7 2010. Raid or corrective? The draft in pdf.

Update- May 4, 2011 City Council passed an ordinance which was a large disappointment to advocacy groups and Ald. Burnett and allies but creates the possibility of funds from a TIF being used to help with purchase and rehab of vacant buildings. See the ordinance in pdf.

Some reasons many affordable advocates will not like the ordinance: It sets neither a mandate or target to use X% of what's in or available in all or individual TIFs or equivalent to these amounts. Help and use seems to be available only within particular TIFs. Use of such funds for affordable vacant buildings/properties depends in every case on City Council approval and appropriation and may well require a change in state law to be implementable. It's amount of help may be considered by some to be low. Ditto for income cap for renting, although some would prefer the program be only for "truly needy" and not the struggling working class. The usual standards blocking flipping are applied and not strengthened.

Here are the conditions. It must be inside the TIF. Limit of eligibility to purchase is 120% of the regional medium, to rent 50%. For the individual the help is limited to 25% of total of base purchase price + up to 3% closing plus rehab costs (over $25,000).
They buyer must agree to stay put for at least 5 years if getting up to $15,000 in assistance, 10 if $15-40,000, and 15 if more and must undergo counseling.
A developer using the program must set aside 30% to 50% of units for affordable rental housing. The caps are 30% of price and costs if setting aside 30%, 40 if 40, 50 if 50. The affordable units mus stay so for at least 15 years.
A TIFs funds can be so used only if in compliance with state law and are specifically approved and appropriated by City Council.

City Council butting heads over housing. [To vote on strong vs toothless--but not at least until January 13--is it possible a compromise substitute could emerge?]

Hyde Park Herald, December 1, 2010. By Sam Cholke

The City Council's Joint Committee on Finance and Housing is kicking the city's biggest debate over affordable housing in nearly a decade to the full body on Dec. 8. With competing rules in two ordinances for how property tax money is used to boost housing, only one can pass.

An ordinance introduced by Ald. Walter Burnett (27th), which is supported by local aldermen, would mandate that 20 percent of all revenue collected in the city's tax increment financing districts be used for affordable housing projects. "I think it just reminds the city to be more accountable for what it does," said Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd), who is supporting Burnett's ordinance.

Mayor Richard M. Daley opposes the strict rules, and Ald. Patrick O'Connor (40th) has introduced an ordinance that quells the objections of the administration by making the rules nonbinding goals and reducing the threshold to 10 percent of the TIF collections.

"No, we're not going to make it a goal. yes, we're going to make it an obligation," Burnett said at th e Nov. 23 committee hearing. Burnett has lined up a coalition of alderman behind him that includes alderman Pat Dowell (3rd), Toni Preckwinkle (4th) and Leslie Hairston (5th). Burnett's proposal, the Sweet Home Chicago ordinance, was crippled coming out of the hearing, when the joint committee voted down including language that was aimed at bringing hesitant aldermen on board by allowing them greater flexibility to opt out of the program.

"I think we have opt outs because we have colleagues who do not wish to have affordable housing in their wards and would not support it without that," Preckwinkle said. "I don't see why you're not wiling to hold the city to a high standard, because this is a serious issue." ...

... If the city was a series of farm fields, TIFs would be specially designated plats where only the farmer who live there can eat any bumper crops that plat produces for 23 years. There are rules called "porting" that essentially work like the farmer handing some food over the fence to his neighbor on another special plot, but bar him from helping the guy down the road because their property lines don't touch or his plot is not a TIF plot.

The city's 165 TIF districts are expected to bring in $448 million this yer. So if the ordinance were in effect today, about $90 million in affordable housing projects would need to be identified to satisfy the mandate. State law bars 66 of those TIF districts from spending their money on housing, but their revenue is still counted towards figuring out how much the city should spend on housing. That leaves 99 districts to find $90 million in projects. Those 99 districts are expected to bring in $228 million, putting the practical threshold closer to 30 percent of TIF revenues."The obligation does not go away even if some people opt out of it and some TIF's don't allow it," said Ellen Sahli, first deputy commissioner of the city's Department of Community Development. Alderman can spread out that spending however they wish, dividing it equally amongst the TIFs or spending it all in one.

In an interview before the commission hearings, Hairston said she would support the measure, but wanted language that would incentive TIFs in affluent communities to foot most of the bill. She said the cost of subsidized affordable housing in her ward is about on part with market rate housing.

Affordable housing is figured out by looking at the average housing costs across the metropolitan area. Sixty percent of that cost is then considered affordable. For much of the South East Side, affordable housing tends to be closely equivalent to the market-rate housing because housing costs are by-and-large already lower than the metropolitan average.*

Several aldermen worried that if the ordinance passed it would be a race to see who could opt out of their obligations first. "Just as there is not scattered site housing across the city of Chicago, there will not be affordable housing across the city of Chicago," said Ald. Freddrenna Lyle (6th). "There will be communities labeled for 30 years as communities with a paucity of powers, just as we sought so hard to not do with public housing." Other aldermen worried that installing such a mandate would dry up any tax credits for affordable housing outside of TIF districts. "I'm going to be sitting on a building that I've promised will be 100 percent affordable that there isn't money to fund," said Ald. Tom Tunney (44th), whose affluent northern lakeside ward doesn't have any TIF districts.

Local aldermen have said they would likely accept only a small number of projects in their wards because so many properties are already designated affordable. TIFs are by law supposed to help raise up blighted neighborhoods. Teh ordinance is partially aimed at those TIFs that were established in the South Loop and other more affluent neighborhoods by bending the definition of what is blighted. The TIF-sponsored development in those neighborhoods during the housing boom contributed to the migration [of] low-income resident to South and West Side neighborhoods. The ordinance relies on political pressure to force affordable housing development in those neighborhoods, but drags the rest of the TIFs along for the ride.

If Burnett's ordinance does potentially too much, O'Connor's ordinance may do too little. The proposal makes any use of taxpayer money eligible to satisfy the goal, but the language is just that, a goal, entirely unenforceable. The bar is also set much lower at only 10 percent of TIF revenue. The administration is supporting the measure, largely because it does not expose the city to lawsuits if it does not build the affordable housing it promised to do.

The City Council only debates broad affordable housing measures about once a decade. Preckwinkle has been a force in those debates and has fiercely promoted Burnett's ordinance in hearings. She will take over as president of the Cook County Board two days before the measure is debated. A caretaker to fill out her tem has not yet been identified, and while that person will likely vote in line with Preckwinkle's impulses, it is unlikely that they will be able to match [article cut off].

 

[However, that does not tell what proportion of families in an area are in affordable housing-- can pay for and obtain that housing, especially if one accepts the measure that one is not living in affordable housing if spending more than about a third of monthly income on housing.]

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Note that the draft does not specify that the funds come from TIFs, only that an equivalent of 20% of the previous year's increment be spent on affordable housing. Sections relevant to effects on locked in commitments are e, f, i.... In September the ordinance was in the legal department as well as committee. Chief backer is Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, lead in "Sweet Home Chicago."
September 20 the Coalition for Equitable Community Development board voted to endorse the ordinance.

July 7, 10 am City Hall 2nd fl Council chambers, hearing on requiring 20% of TIF funds to be spent on affordable housing annually. Here are some details and one set of suggested alterations. Local groups such as Coalition for Equitable Community Development are examining the proposal.

Sun-Times on what happened July 7

Sun-times online July 7, 2010
Plan to set aside TIF money for affordable housing stalls
Comments
July 7, 2010

BY FRAN SPIELMAN Staff Reporter
A plan to set aside 20 percent of Chicago’s tax-increment-financing (TIF) funds for affordable housing stalled in a joint City Council committee on Wednesday, despite a grass roots campaign that has pressured at least 27 aldermen to sign on.

The City Council’s Finance and Housing committees took two hours of testimony but no vote on the set-aside plan championed by Ald. Walter Burnett (27th) amid a barrage of questions from supporters and opponents alike.

Aldermen demanded to know how the mandate would impact their control over TIF spending, whether there are enough interested developers to support a 20 percent edict and whether neighborhoods without TIFs would be denied sorely-needed affordable housing. They also questioned how the ordinance would be enforced.

"If procedures they’re proposing are the same as what we’ve got now, what do we need another ordinance for?” said Housing Committee Chairman Ray Suarez (31st).

Burnett countered that TIFs are now being used to subsidize clout-heavy developers and consultants and to pay the salaries of 72 city employees. "Why can’t we give the TIF back to the people who pay the taxes in our community so they can get some affordable housing?” he said. "TIF is the only resource we have that can make things happen. We have to do something about foreclosures and the lack of affordable housing. This money is sitting in a pot while people in our communities are suffering.”

Chicago has 159 TIFs that siphon tens of millions of dollars away from local taxing districts -- by freezing property taxes for 23 years and using the increment for business subsidies and infrastructure improvements within those boundaries.

Burnett’s ordinance would rein in Mayor Daley’s unbridled control over the TIF piggy bank. Twenty percent of funds generated by TIFs in the previous year—$100 million--would be used to either build or preserve affordable housing. The 20 percent would come from the citywide total—not from each TIF, as some aldermen feared.

In 1993, Daley unveiled a five-year plan for affordable housing under pressure from the City Council. Last year, he committed $2.1 billion to create 50,022 units of rental and for-sale housing by 2013.

The City Council also mandated a 20 percent affordable housing set-aside on city-subsidized projects and 10 percent on projects that involve city land, planned developments and zoning changes that increase density.

Daley has taken no public stand on the new ordinance but Burnett knows he’s fighting an uphill battle.
"It’s not that the mayor is against affordable housing. It’s just that he needs to be massaged a little bit and I think he’ll reconsider,” Burnett said.

It’s not the first time Burnett has gone toe-to-toe with Daley on the issue of affordable housing,
During the 2003 City Council debate on the first affordable housing set-aside ordinance, Burnett told Daley that people on the mayor’s own staff “have challenges with affordable housing—whether you know it or not, whether they tell you or not.”

Daley snapped, "Alderman, I know about affordable housing. You don’t have to lecture me.”

Burnett stood his ground, arguing that affordable housing was the decisive issue in the 2003 aldermanic elections.
"We all have to live with that, Mr. Mayor. We cannot be afraid to fight to give people affordable housing. We need more,” he said.
Daley countered, "No one’s afraid to to say what’s right. . . .You’ve always spoken your mind. I’ve allowed that. Never infer that I did not allow that. . . .Don’t infer that I do not listen to you."


TIFS TO BE MODIFIED FOR AFFORDABLE HOUSING? July 7, 10 am City Hall 2nd fl Council chambers, there was a hearing on requiring 20% of TIF funds to be spent on affordable housing annually. Here are some details and one set of suggested alterations. Local groups such as Coalition for Equitable Community Development are examining the proposal. It was sent back to committee.

The July 6 Sun-Times carries an editorial on the use of 20% of TIF funds for affordable housing. The editorial strongly endorses and gives reasons to recommend, but suggests a number of changes.

Note that the proposed ordinance is for 20% of total TIF money, NOT 20% in every TIF. Not said here is whether this is retroactive to all money in TIFs when it goes into effect but it appears the transfers and requirement would be annual. Not said here is whether such units would have to be inside a TIF district. It would not be just for building new housing, but could also be for preserving or rehabbing existing housing for affordable or converting foreclosed properties into affordable housing.

Recommended changes by Sun-Times:

Reporting requirements said to be weak, esp. that the developers alone would verify family eligibility.

For rental half of apartments in each development would be for families earning 50 percent or less of area median (+$38,000 for family of 54) with 40% for families earning under 23% Sun-Times fears this would derail development or lead to projects that don't enhance property values (which is a main source of increment in the first place). ST would change the percentages to 30% and a bit under 40%.

Homeownership rules: Proposed is that 50 percent of for-sale units be for families making under $60,000. But this is the group that most heavily took the now mortgages in the bubble and then lost them. It might also raise costs to the point that financing could not be obtained. S-T does not suggest an alternative.

The proposal lacks a means to prevent the city form concentrating affordable developments in certain (challenged?) neighborhoods. At least some affordable development should go into TIFs in neighborhoods that are not "challenged" (read Hyde Park 53rd and Cottage Grove TIFs?)

Herald July 21 2010- a complicated change being tweaked. Local Alds. back housing bill. By Sam Cholke

Local aldermen have joined over half o their colleagues in supporting an ordinance that would mandate more tax increment financing (TIF) money get funneled into affordable housing development. "Once every decade there's another idea about affordable housing and how we can bring more resources to the table" said Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th), who co-sponsored the City Council's 1993 and 1999 ordinances that increased city spending on low-and moderate-income housing.

The current idea, the Sweet Home Chicago ordinance drafted by Ald. walter Burnett Jr. (27th) and the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, would pump more TIF funding into affordable housing developments. "This ordinance is quite simple in how it would work," Julie Dworkin, director of policy for the Coalition for the Homeless, told a joint meeting of the Housing and Finance committees on July 7. Dworkin said the coalition is pursuing TIF funding to fill the gap left by dwindling state and federal funding for affordable housing.

For example, TIFs brought in about $495 million in revenue in 2009. Under the proposed ordinance, the city should then commit close to $100 million to affordable housing projects in 2010. "It doesn't take that many projects to get to $100 million," said Adam Gross, a lawyer from the Business and Professional People for the Public Interest, a group that is advising aldermen on the ordinance.

The ordinance sets teh benchmark for how much should be spent; t does not specify where it should be spent. [describes TIFs, ...TIFs can bed set up to spur commercial, industrial or residential development, or as a mixture of uses. Most TIFs are mixed use. There are 16 residential TIFs in the city, 11 of which are in Bronzeville.

"We have to be careful - we have a lot of affordable housing already," said Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd), whose ward contains many TIFs that were set up to fund the redevelopment of public housing redevelopments. "In the 3rd Ward, I would rather used the TIFs for retail development."

Preckwinkle said there is already a tremendous amount of TIF money being committed to affordable housing in her ward. Aldermen control how TIF money is spent, and if South Side aldermen cannot find affordable housing projects to help satisfy the ordinance, the city will have to look elsewhere. Many of the TIFs on the North Side are mixed-use districts, but are set along narrow commercial strips and have built-in plans for how funds are intended to be used, rendering affordable housing projects in those district difficult, though not impossible.

The city could look on the West side, where many TIFs cover large residential areas and are intended to spur mixed-use projects that include residential. The Midwest TIF, which covers much of North Lawndale and East Garfield Park, is one of th e largest West side TIFs. It would not likely be able to accommodated new housing projects as it is projected to end the year overextended by $6.8 million. The neighboring Pulaski Ogden TIF, which also covers portions of North Lawndale, could not likely accommodate affordable housing developments either because it has not generated any revenue since it was created last year.

the Englewood Neighborhood TIF, set to spur residential and commercial development ad currently invested heavily in retail development, could accommodated some affordable housing projects. But even if the Englewood TIF were to commit all of its yearly $4.2 million in revenue, the Sweet Home Chicago ordinance's benchmarks would still stand far from being satisfied.

The Sweet Home Chicago ordinance is still a work in progress adn aldermen are expected to hold a second round of public hearings before any action is taken. "I doubt it will be exactly what was introduced," Preckwinkle said.

 

Sutherland next on Antheus list as contract entered on resuscitation of affordable unit landmark and nearly-complete historic ballroom renovation. Will add well over 100 affordable units.

By early summer of 2010 Antheus had entered a contract to buy from Heartland Alliance the 1917 Sutherland Hotel at 47th and Drexel. Its ballroom had once been venues for Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and Dizzy Gillespie and a major restoration project of jazzman _______ after his return from years as an emigre in Paris. Sutherland was Heartland's first major affordable residential project-- the tax credits require 25% set aside regardless of owner. When Heartlands' request for renewal was denied in 2007, the building was put up for sale and occupancy is now under one third. An assessment and final approval of ballroom renovations by the city is now underway, after which the city will release a $500,000 Empowerment grant for arts programming at the Sutherland ballroom (renovated from a $412,645 grant.) In order for the affordable tax write offs to continue, Heartland must continue as tenant of the ballroom and other things have to be arranged such as temporary set aside of the affordable credits during renovation. Antheus and Heartland expect to have all worked out within a year so renovation can begin.

More


Officials, city push awareness of stimulus funds for home weatherization

By State Sen. Kwame Raoul, State Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie, State Rep. Will Burns in Hyde Park Herald, July 7, 2010.

On Tuesday, June 29, we hosted and informational town hall meeting. [About 120 attended, according to the Herald.] The purpose was to spread the word on teh Urban Weatherization Initiative act, a $425 million program aimed at providing jobs, job training and energy efficiency. The initiative will created jobs and provide job training, but we are a few months away from implementation of the program. For those of you who weren't there and for those who were but missed a fact here or a figure there, here's a recap of our meeting.

Karin Norington-Reaves, deputy director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), was on hand to explain the program and answer questions. The implementation of this initiative should be a boon to our local economy, and it presents hope for both recovery and increased efficiency. Private, public and non-profit groups wil team up with community-based organizations to train and employ individuals to provide weatherization services. Residents from our community will not only reap the benefits of employment and training, but will also gain the opportunity to have significant weatherization projects completed on their homes at little or no cost.

Targeted buildings are owner-occupied, single family homes and multifamily housing units of six units or less in census tracts with high rates of unemployment, underemployment and poverty. This initiative will train and employ individuals from targeted populations to perform weatherization tasks. Our hope is that the program will also stimulate local economies by using local suppliers, distributors, and/or manufacturers of equipment and supplies necessary for weatherization work.

Eligible applicants for the program include private, public and non-profit entities that can provide weatherization services and incorporate effective employment and training strategies in partnership with local community-based organizations. Grants will be awarded via a competitive request-for-proposal process and may not exceed $500,000 per fiscal year.

The Act provides that weatherization costs of up to $6,500 may be spent for an individual housing unit. And these dollars may be combined with the existing Illinois Home Weatherization Assistance Program (IHWAP) for a total potential unity benefit of $13,000.

As the time draws near for implementation of this initiative, we will again reach out to the community with information on how to become involved in the program. We will provide the information to our local news outlets as well as send direct correspondence to those people who have signed up on our Urban Weatherization Initiative contact list. If you came to the town hall meeting and signed in, you're already on the list. You can add yourself to the list by calling any of our offices. State Rep. Currie can be reached at 773 667-0550, state Rep. Burns at 773 924-2600 and ste Sen Raoul at 773 373-1996.

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NHTF. As of May 19, 2010, the House was about to consider this week the tax extender bill HB4213. This includes funding for the National Housing Trust Fund and project base vouchers. It would extend more than 50 special tax breaks that expired at the end of 2009. It also will extend unemployment benefits, provide Medicaid assistance to the states, and prevent rate cuts to doctors who see Medicare patients, among other emergency provisions. It also includes the exchange program for the 9% LIHTCs. The total cost may be as high as $200 billion. Some, but not all, of the cost will be offset by closing tax loopholes and increasing taxes on capital gains. The cost of the NHTF is included in the provisions that are offset. There is opposition to the total cost of the bill.

Comes up in the Senate starting June 8. From an advocacy group:

NHTF VOTE EXPECTED THIS WEEK Take Action!

Please call TODAY!

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has indicated that debate on H.R. 4213, the American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act of 2010, will begin in the Senate as early as Tuesday, June 8. The version of this bill that passed the House on May 28 includes initial funding for the National Housing Trust Fund, as well as important provisions regarding the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program.

However, the Senate bill will be subject to amendment, so it is crucial that Senators hear from us that the NHTF and other housing provisions remain in any final bill. There will be objections about the bill's contribution to the federal deficit. Some Senators are advocating that Medicaid payments to the states and the extension of health insurance for the unemployed, which were dropped in the House, be added back. Still other Senators want to negotiate less of a tax increase on venture capitalists and hedge fund managers than is in the House bill.

The housing provisions in H.R. 4213 are among those that are offset by the tax increases in the bill that close loopholes and increase tax equity.


Please call the Congressional switchboard toll-free at 877-210-5351 TODAY, ask for each of your Senators' offices in turn, and relay the following message:

As the Senate considers H.R. 4213 this week, provisions affecting housing for people with low incomes must remain in the bill. These are $1.065 billion for the National Housing Trust Fund, the extension of the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) exchange program, and the extension of the placed-in-service date of LIHTCs for the Gulf Coast. Please let Senator (NAME) know the importance of these programs to the lowest income families in our communities.

You can also remind your Senators of the large number of organizations from each state that have signed the NHTF letter of support. Individual letters to Senators are at http://www.nhtf.org/template/page.cfm?id=259, and more will be posted throughout the day. Other materials that may be helpful, including the ad that appeared in the Roll Call newspaper and an estimate of how much NHTF funding each state will receive, are posted at www.nhtf.org under the heading "Materials for NHTF Visits and Calls."

THANK YOU FOR YOUR CALLS!
WE CAN MAKE THIS HAPPEN!

Please email outreach@nlihc.org with feedback from your calls or any questions.

June 16, 2010

NHTF funding bill could move this week! Take Action!

PLEASE CALL TODAY!

Senate leaders appear ready to begin voting on H.R. 4213, the American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act of 2010, the 'extender bill' that includes funds for the National Housing Trust Fund and other housing priorities. Voting could start as early as Wednesday, June 16, and the vote is expected to be very close. Please call each of your Senators NOW and urge them to support this bill!

Please call the Congressional switchboard toll-free at 877-210-5351 and ask for each of your Senators' offices in turn. Relay the following message:

H.R. 4213, the tax extender bill, contains $1 billion in funding for the National Housing Trust Fund. The NHTF will help our community build and preserve housing for people with the lowest incomes who have been hardest hit in the economic crisis, and will create much-needed jobs. I urge Senator [NAME] to support H.R. 4213 and the National Housing Trust Fund.

You can also tell your Senators how much funding your state will receive in NHTF funding, and remind them of the number of organizations from your state that signed the NHTF letter of support.

Please call even if you have already called!

Background: On May 28, the House passed H.R. 4213, the "tax extenders bill," which included $1 billion in initial funding for the National Housing Trust Fund and $65 million for project-based housing vouchers to support NHTF homes. The bill also extends the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) exchange program, and extends the placed-in-service date of LIHTCs for the Gulf Coast. Votes on the bill in the Senate were anticipated in early June, but stalled while Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) searched for consensus on some aspects of the bill.

 

Meetings and Seminars, movers and questions.

The board of the Coalition for Equitable Community Development next meets Monday, February 20, 4:30 pm - call 773 288-8343 for location (a private residence). The Annual Meeting, on affordable rental housing, is Feb. 25, 10 am at Augustana Lutheran.

Let's Establish a Hyde Park Village. Some background: The "village" concept, is an idea that began in Boston about 8 or 9 years ago as a way to enable seniors to "age in place." The first, Beacon Hill Village, has served as a model for villages that are now mushrooming all over the country and even internationally. Currently there are about 50 established villages in the U.S. and at least another 50 in various stages of development. In our own area, Lincoln Park has an established village and Evanston/North Shore, Lakeview and Streeterville are all in the process of building their own villages. OWL Illinois has purchased the How-to manual from Beacon Hill to help get us started.
The basic idea is a membership community in which one phone number provides members access to whatever services, support, help or advice they may need to continue to function independently and to remain in their own home. But like any community, each village develops its own unique character based on the interests and circumstances of its members.
They are currently in the committee work and meet-small-groups phase having held four successful larger meetings. Organization work is underway with students from Chicago Booth.
SEE OUR NEW "VILLAGE" PAGE. THEIR WEB(BLOG) CONTACT:
hyde-park-village@googlegroups.com. "Toward a Hyde Park Village--a neighborhood organization designed to enable members to remain comfortably, safely, and happily in their own homes and apartments whatever their age or physical abilities."
And find out about lecture etc. with Lincoln Park Village June 21.

Civic Knowledge University of Chicago 2010-2011 program series,"Poverty, Promise, Possibility."

There is a new cooperative housing organization forming that may set up in or near Hyde Park. It's Prairie Onion Cohousing, http://www.prairieonioncohousing.org. 773 854-6879. May include shared meal, shared play and shared organic garden sections. Informational meetings held occasionally. Note that this is partially-shared living and lifestyle (including green and social/activities) and home ownership opportunity for middle class people.


Introduction to Cohousing and to Chicago’s proposed cohousing community.

Laura Fitch of Kraus-Fitch Architects, one of the most experienced cohousing
architects in the US and a 15-year resident of Pioneer Valley Cohousing in
Amherst, MA, presented an Introduction to Cohousing to kick off a weekend of
architectural design workshop for Prairie Onion Cohousing . f
charge. Tell your friends!
For more information about Prairie Onion Cohousing visit www.prairieonioncohousing.org or call 773-854-6879. info@prairieonioncohousing.org.


Sandra Silva writes:

Co-Housing originated in Denmark in the 1970’s. People gather
together in intentional communities, that is design a community in
which to live. In the 1980’s co-housing came to the U.S. Our speaker began to create an intentional community in 1995 and actually moved in 2000. She was a single person among two other
families with children in her community, by 2004, there was a total
of 24 households in the community of buildings over 5 acres within a total of 40 acres of otherwise wooded areas. Each community has a common building which houses a kitchen, video room, big room, and guest rooms, can be used by any of the community for special events and also would have meetings of the
community. Your common building can have the kinds of rooms your community needs. Our speaker‘s community also was ecologically sound. Solar panels were on the roof, and it was built so that system of 50 degree water meant the homes were at 50 degrees all the time and any more heat needed only a little more generation of heat. In the U.S., there are several co-housing communities, one of only elderly people in Boulder Co. If you want to learn more about co-housing look in the public library
to read more about the subject.


_____________________

Transitional Housing Project seeks mentors- More on HPTHP, Still true.

c/o University Church. 5655 S. University 60637. Meets at Augustana Lutheran. Call Allan at 773 643-8061, hpthp@yahoo.com. THP website,
http://www.hpkifc.org/HydeParkTransitionalHousing.htm.
President Rev. Celeste Frazier.
Download brochure and quarterly newsletter.
Helps families become self sustaining in mentored housing settings for up to two years. Volunteers needed and trained.

A quarterly brochure is available.
Helps families become self sustaining in mentored settings. Volunteers needed and trained.

Herald, December 24, 2008. By Kate Hawley

The Hyde Park Transitional Housing Project is seeking volunteer mentors to work with families who have been homeless. The organization provides apartment and a range of other services to homeless families for up to two years. Two families are currently housed under the program, according to Allan Lindrup, the group's treasurer.

Volunteer mentors are critical to the organization, Lindrup said. They generally work in groups of two or three, meeting each week with a family for up to two years (with up to six weeks off over the course of each year). The also might attend courses of each year.) They also might attend counseling sessions, support groups or other meetings. The commitment involves advising the families on employment, schooling, parenting, money and a range of other issues, with the goal of helping them become permanently house and financially independent.

While the mentors are not social service professionals, they are expected to link the families with professional help when necessary.

The Hyde Park Transitional Housing Project began its work five years ago, launched by the local chapter of Interfaith Open Communities, an affordable housing advocate. For the last three years, the organization has held the Taste of Hyde Park to raise money for its efforts. Top

Southside Solidarity Network meets in Cobb Hall various Tuesdays. Contact Hallie Trauger at UC.

A new faith based coalition for housing for the South Side, SOUL, has formed with a large number of congregations already joined. The group is working with new CECD - Coalition for Equitable Community Development in HPK.
Contact CECD re their schedules of committee and other meetings.


Apartment demand swells in neighborhood- but not for all as soured condos turn "shadow rental"

Hyde Park Herald, March 24, 2010. By Sam Cholke

The dominant players in the Hyde Park rental market are reporting increased interest in aparments in the neighborhood over the last year. MAC Property Management, which owns more than 75 buildings in Hyde Park, has seen a 50 percent increase in the number of people applying for a lease, according to Peter Cassel, director of community development for MAC. The number of people who go on to sign a lease is up by 25 percent compared to January through March of last year, according to Cassel.

"it's all over -- we've seen a large increase in East Hyde Park as we've brought the Algonquin [apartments, 1606 E. Hyde Park Boulevard] and Windermere [House, 1642 E. 56th St.] to the market," Cassel said. "In this kind of market, Hyde Park remains very attractive."

Curtis Miller, a Hyde Parker and a leasing agent for Chicago Apartment Finders in the neighborhood, said he is seeing more young people looking to move to Hyde park because of its recreation options and proximity to downtown. "Being a Hyde Park Native, I've never really thought of Hyde Park as a recreation center, but it's something that appeals to them," Miller said.

Appointments to view Hyde Park apartments between January and March are up 88 percent, according to figures provided by Chicago Apartment Finders. Lease signings are holding steady for the company, though Web site visitors searching for Hyde Park recently spiked. "Hyde Park is becoming a neighborhood of choice in competition with Lincoln Park," Miller said.

Stuart handler, CEO of TLC management, said applications are up for the company's eight Hyde Park buildings, although the number of people inquiring about renting apartments has dipped slightly, he said. Handler said Hyde Park's rental market is growing and TLC should be expanding with it. "I'm optimistic, otherwise we wouldn't have made the investment we did in Hyde Park," Handler said. "We feel it's a good market if you do it right."

Some smaller rental agencies are getting pinched as the big players expand to meet demand. "This is the first time in five years we've had any vacancies at all in the winter," [said] Randall Pavelock, president of Hunter Properties, which manages 63 units on South Blackstone Avenue. Pavelock described a "shadow market" of condos turned rental because of the soured housing market. "Now all of a sudden, rental is competing against new construction," he said. "It's like someone built a lot of rental property accidentally. It was a rough winter but hopefully spring will be better," Pavelock said.


From CNT- updated H+T Index. On Wednesday, March 24, 2010, the Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT- www.cnt.org) released an expanded website for their Housing + Transportation Affordability Index, which provides a comprehensive snapshot of neighborhood affordability. Housing affordability is typically defined as 30 percent or less of household income spent on housing, which would mean seven out of ten U.S. communities are considered affordable. But when transportation costs are included, only 39 percent of communities are affordable for typical households, according to the new CNT report, Penny Wise, Pound Fuelish. The H+T website examines 337 metro areas, covering 80 percent of the U.S. population. I participated in a telebriefing for the media on March 23 with CNT president Scott Bernstein and experts from the Rockefeller Foundation, HUD, and USDOT to discuss the index and its relevance to regional planning. An objective of the federal government ' s Sustainable Communities Initiative is to improve housing affordability and ensure "housing is located near job centers and affordable, accessible transportation," an objective that CMAP supports and will promote in GO TO 2040. See a related story at DC.StreetsBlog.org.

_________

reprises:

October 16 2007, May 6 2008 forums with Eli Ungar of Antheus Capital and MAC Properties on landlord and housing and affordability management and development prospects and strategies had about good attendance and were lively meetings. Antheus also agreed to an affordable rental annex to Solstice on the Park if built and said he was working on ways to build new affordable and senior friendly units in his rental rehabs. Reports posted in Antheus page.

At the November 15 2007 public meeting on the 56th/Cornell project (Solstice on the Park), among items praised was agreement with IOC on keeping the building to the north affordable.

At the July 2008 TIF meeting, Ungar promised 15% affordable in the Village Center redevelopment.

December 5 2007, Affordable housing org.: Hyde Park Coalition for Equitable Community Development, an outgrowth of the multi-organizational forums, held its inaugural and organizational meeting at Hyde Park Neighborhood Club. It now seeks members to 1 show strength and interest, 2) be able to elect a board et al, 3) be able to inform the community on issues.

February 20 2008 Coalition for Equitable Community Development in Hyde Park/Kenwood held its kickoff and an interim board was elected. Information in the CECD page. Website is in http://www.iocillinois.org/. Contact Pat Wilcoxen.

May 19 2007. Affordability Summit and proposal. The most poignant stories came from lower-income renters, but there were horror stories or concern from many much better off.
Interfaith Open Communities, Older Women's League, HPKCC, Chamber of Commerce, U of C Office of Community Affairs, and the Racial Justice Task Force, First Unitarian Church of Chicago. Hyde Park- raised community organizer John McDermott spoke. The assembly voted to start formation of a community organization on housing needs to plan, guide, support, and monitor housing and community activities that will create a sustainable, healthy community of Hyde Park-Kenwood open to residents at all income levels.The current task force will be expanded and convene a community convention to inaugurate the organization later this year.
The call for the May 19 2007 summit, Herald report.

By June 2007, the affordable housing advocacy Council was organized as a formal nonprofit. Held forum Dec. 8, hold kickoff of the 501 February 20 and held a next meeting in May 2008.
To Report

Contacts: John Murphy at 459-4082 or Pat Wilcoxen at 643-7495.

A separate affordable housing group esp. including west Hyde Park renters, with Metropolitan Tenants Organization, marched from Drexel Fountain at 51st and Drexel to Harold Washington Park (53rd and S. Hyde Park) for rally and speeches. It seeks a freeze on condo conversions, preservation and maintenance of affordable rental stock, enforcement of laws governing landlords. Malik Wornum at MTO, 312 (may be 773) 292-4980.

 

News and updates:

See the Hyde Park Village page.

Tribune Feb. 12, 2012 on Antheus and affordability

From or based on article by Corilyn Shropshire

[Antheus interest in Hyde Park started with a single purchase at 47th and Ellis in 2002, reached a crescendo with purchase of 43 buildings for $135M in 2007 and in 2012 the empire comprised 89 buildings accounting for 4,500 units or (by their estimate) just under 20% of the rental stock- next behind U of C. Owners are Eli Ungar and David Gefsky who went into business together in 2002.]

Residents [of the neighborhoods] say they're concerned that Antheus may dramatically push up rents and force lower-income people of the areas between East 45th an 59 th Streets, and in the process turn the neighborhood into the Lincoln Park of the South Side. "You run the risk of them being the only game in town and rents shooting up sky-high if they own most of the buildings that were historically affordable,"* said Shannon Bennett, a lead organizer at the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, a social service group. Bennett said many of the buildings Antheus has acquired "were the last bastion of affordability for families who live here." [*Several of the buildings Antheus has bought were not in the affordable range, but were in mid range at least and have now become more upscale. Nor is Antheus the only buyer of affordable buildings in the game-- TLC being the largest in recent years.] Bennett said he's also worried about building maintenance by MAC Properties, the leasing and management arm of Antheus....

Re: City Hyde Park, ..."You are using TIF money for huge projects that are forcing independent business owners who have been in Hyde Park for generations in some cases to close," said resident S. Beth Thomas. "You want to make Hyde Park look like a world-class neighborhood, but my concern is the people who are being displaced," she said.

Grove Parc coming along under POAH. Chicago Reporter, January 2 2012

By: Emily Gowing / January 02, 2012
From the January/February 2012 issue of the Chicago Reporter, Subsidized Housing
When Faith McGhee moved to Grove Parc in 1991, the federally subsidized building provided her with stability when she needed it the most. “It really helped me to put my life back together when I was between jobs because I wasn’t able to afford market rent,” said McGhee, who was separated from her husband and had three children. “It’s a place rich in resources.”

But, by late 2007, the condition at the Woodlawn building had turned 180 degrees. After years of mismanagement, Grove Parc had deteriorated to the point where it failed the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s inspections twice in a year, scoring as low as 11 on a scale of 100—49 points below passing. As a result, the building was slated for foreclosure.

“I kind of felt like [the management was] allowing the property to go downhill. Housing all across the board was going downhill,” McGhee said.

That’s when Preservation of Affordable Housing stepped in to salvage the building. The Boston-based nonprofit is known across the country for its success rate in taking subsidized buildings in disarray and transforming them—while preserving the affordability of the units.

When the nonprofit’s management team, Preservation Housing Management, assumed management of the building in January 2008, it began making urgent repairs to the building to bring it up to HUD’s standards. Because the inspection scores had been so low, it was a monumental task to improve conditions and pass inspection, but the management team had the support of residents, said Karen Rhodes, Preservation Housing Management’s senior property manager. “The residents were cheering us on. They wanted to pass inspection as much as we did,” she said.

By November 2008, the nonprofit managed to raise the inspection score by 64 points.

Maria Plati, the nonprofit’s communications manager, said her organization’s work comes at a crucial time as the country faces a growing need to preserve affordable housing. According to HUD’s 2009 biannual report, only 32 units of affordable housing are available for every 100 very-low-income renters. “We have a specific mission to increase the number of affordable housing units across the country, given the fact that many were being lost to market-rate rent,” she said.

In 2001, the nonprofit began to counteract that loss by acquiring and redeveloping 14 affordable-unit properties in Missouri in a $22 million transaction that saved 915 units. Since then, it has rescued and refinanced 6,800 units in 54 developments in 10 different states, including the District of Columbia.

“We put together financing packages in a creative way so we can acquire and restore and manage these properties,” Plati said.

The acquisition of Grove Parc was the beginning of a multiyear project. The nonprofit managed to pass HUD inspection, but it ultimately determined that—since the condition at the building was so unstable—its demolition and rebuilding was the only option for a long-term preservation.

The move was met with some degree of skepticism by the rest of the Woodlawn community. “As with any community in change and transition, the surrounding community in Woodlawn has expressed a concern about our practice, in terms of us tearing down,” said Felicia Dawson, the nonprofit’s director of community affairs.

So the nonprofit made sure to find temporary housing for the 390 tenants and guaranteed their return once the building is rebuilt. All 504 affordable units will be preserved, and 210 of them will remain on-site, while the remaining 294 will be off-site in existing apartments that it will purchase and rehab.

In early November, two buildings holding a combined total of 67 units, 60 of which are affordable, were completed and ready for tenants to move back in.

McGhee was among the first Grove Parc residents to return to the building, renting a one-bedroom apartment in the new development on South Cottage Grove Avenue. “So far I don’t really have a complaint … although I’ve heard people say they weren’t comfortable because of some of the new rules,” she said, adding, “They’re willing to work with you. They are still working around some things in the building, but there are a lot of things that I have now that I didn’t have when I was in the building.”
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Mayor Daley agrees to cap relocation expenses of displaced renters

By Fran Spielman City Hall Reporterfspielman@suntimes.com Apr 6, 2011 9:01AM
Mayor Daley has agreed to put a cap on relocation expenses that must be paid to displaced renters to salvage reforms that came too late to protect consumers from Chicago’s condominium conversion epidemic.
Instead of requiring developers to pay $1,500 or one month’s rent, whichever is greater, the mandatory relocation cost would be capped at $2,500.
Downtown Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) pushed for the ceiling to prevent corporate executives renting $9,000-a-month lakefront penthouses from cashing in on a perk that’s intended for struggling families.
But, Reilly said Tuesday he has other problems with the watered-down ordinance, scheduled to be considered by a joint City Council committee later this week.
Chief among them is the mayor’s plan to more than double — from four months to nine months — the advance notice to tenants before condo conversions.
“That’s a 125 percent increase in the notice period. That’s gonna raise the cost for construction loans. That, in turn, raises the cost of condo units,” Reilly said.
“If our goal here is to keep housing affordable in Chicago, this well-intentioned ordinance is falling short.”
If the mayor’s revised ordinance is not approved by May 16, it will die along with the old City Council. Reilly said that’s fine with him.
“This will have a profound impact on the housing market. More time and negotiation is required. This ordinance has been in the works for three years. We can afford to wait 60 more days to make sure we get it right,” he said.
The $2,500 cap was not enough to appease the Chicago Association of Realtors, either. The group is threatening to file a lawsuit to challenge a relocation fee it views as unconstitutional and ill-advised.
“If you impose a fee when the housing market starts to turn around, it’s a warning sign that Chicago is a tough town to do business. It could stifle residential development, construction jobs, material sales and transfer taxes,” said association spokesman Brian Bernardoni.
Bernardoni noted that the Chicago Association of Realtors pushed hard for the mayor’s proposal to require a standardized disclosure summary and enhanced property report to inform tenants about the physical condition of buildings targeted for conversion and the financial requirements upon occupancy.
“It would be a fundamental shift in how condos are bought and sold. We may end up losing a very strong consumer protection by working against this ordinance, which is frustrating and unfortunate,” he said.
Despite the lingering concerns, retiring Ald. Helen Shiller (46th) said she would push for a final vote at Thursday’s meeting of the Buildings and Housing Committees.
“Their position is we shouldn’t be discouraging condo conversion in a down general economy. My position is, this is the right time to re-set the rules as the economy is re-setting itself so that, when things do pick up, we will have addressed the excesses,” Shiller said.
“Everyone doesn’t always agree on what is and isn’t legal. This is one of those instances. It may end up getting litigated. But, we need to address issues that affected condo owners and renters.”
Three years ago, Daley appointed a condominium task force to address ways to protect consumers from the wave of condo conversions gobbling up rental housing and displacing families.
The panel took so long to study the issue, the condo conversion epidemic has long since passed. The problem now is condo owners who cannot sell their units renting them out in buildings hovering near foreclosure.

Affordable housing--can it be defined to mean for people of all income levels and to the extent possible can it include accessibility needs? Need to do this was stressed for the Harper Court Area RFP at a guidelines focus meeting of the TIF plg. & Dev. comm. May 272008 and July TIF meeting.

May 2009 state Rep Burns and Sen Raoul tod as meeting that they are prioritizing stimulus money for affordable housing, early childhood education and health care. "Both Wil and I have said affordable housing has to be a top priority (vs roads).

More orgs. like SOUL, Little Village, Hyde Park Coal. for Equitable Comm. Dev. are connecting the dots to the Olympics, whether through benefits agreements or otherwise-- transit upgrades with clean air (shutting down dirty coal by 2010; Gray Line Lite; 20% affordables.

Linking affordable housing with transportation access. March 2009. U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Secretary, Shaun Donovan, and U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary, Ray LaHood, both testified before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development and announced the creation of an interagency partnership to promote sustainable communities through coordinating housing and transportation policy and investments.

A Federal update for 2008 from Chicago Rehab Network

Housing Stimulus Package. There are concerns about just using tax credits to stimulate buying. Sen. Dodd's June 25 amendment provides funds to preserve and create affordable housing with regulatory reform- FHA could insure refinanced loans. Treasury and the Fed. introduced regulatory and standards reforms to go into effect next January- opposition was expressed. Meanwhile Fannie Mae and Freddie MAC, with a couple banks nearly tanked. Proposed also in Congress ia s National Low Income Housing Trust Fund, most of which after 3 years would go to low income rental housing. The Waters Neighborhood Revitalization Act (now stand-alone) would target resources to vulnerable people(50% to families below 50% of Area Median) and concentrations of foreclosures but has been criticized as taxpayer bailout. Rep. Rangel sponsors a bill to increase th Low Income Housing Tax Credit. Rep Frank is working on a Housing Preservation Omnibus bill with provisions from the Preservation Working Group that includes Chicago Rehab Network; its design is to save and bring back housing threatened with conversion or demo by neglect. Another bill would give 90 days notice to tenants of properties being foreclosed.

The federal government is encouraging banks an lenders, particularly those receiving bailout money, to rework mortgages.

Rep. Currie calls attention to a state bill that could give homeowners a breather

The bill, passed by the Senate and up in the House in early 2009, gives a 90-day moratorium for owners 30 or more days in arrears to work out with counselors and lenders a payment plan.

"Dislocation" film talks about Chicago public housing and vouchers, transformation

Herald, July 22, 2009. By Daschell M. Phillips.

Mary Pattillo, author and professor, led a discussion and screening of the documentary "Dislocation" at teh Hyde Park Art Center, 5020 S. Cornell Ave., last Tuesday. The screening, which was sponsored by the Neighborhood Writing Alliance, or NWA, sparked discussion about the past and present state of Chicago's public housing system and Housing Choice Voucher program.

"Dislocation" is a documentary that followed the lives of several families who were evictee from the Robert Taylor Homes public housing development as part of the massive Chicago Housing Authority Plan for Transformation, which calls for replacing family [owned-? based?] projects with mixed-income communities. The director, Columbia Sociology Professor Sudhir Venkatesh, a former University of Chicago student, teamed up with the late Beauty Turner, who was a columnist for teh Lakefront Outlook and a reporter at the Residents' Journal, to document the transition of residents of the Robert Taylor Homes as they learn they only have 180 days to move. Finding Housing Choice Voucher -once known as Section 8 - approved housing, paying down past due utility bills, finding a place for relatives who were not approved to live in new housing, getting used to new surroundings and general feelings of alienation were just some of the challenges the families faced in the film.

Pattillo, a North Kenwood-Oakland resident and professor of sociology and African American studies at Northwestern University, was invited by NWA to speak to the community because of her continuous study of the evolution of public housing. "I would hear these old nostalgic stories about how it used to be when a doctor lived next door to a person on welfare and 'we all just got along'," Pattillo said. "I heard that story but found it not to be true, and there is still a strain today."

She said there are challenges from all sides that are hindering the success of the mixed-income community the government is trying to put in place. She said the low-income families have to struggle with being eligible for new housing because the bar is set very high to get in the new places, with requirement including no extended visitation and mandatory drug testing. Many of the middle class families and families who pay market rate for the new housing don't speak or fraternize with the low-income resident, which causes tension in the communities.

Pattillo said that while there is not enough low-income housing available to accommodate all the families that were displaced, developers are struggling to sell market-rate housing. Nationally, there are 70,000 families living below the poverty level, Pattillo said. She said developers are begrudgingly facing the fact that more affordable housing is needed. "In North-Kenwood-Oakland, Lake Park Crescent developers have to think of crating more affordable housing," Pattillo said. "And the Jazz on the Boulevard developer went bankrupt and some of the units were auctioned off."

Randolph Olive said he noticed how the residents in the film said they would have preferred to stay in the Robert Taylor Homes if they were given the option. He said Venkatesh should have also interviewed people who hated living in the projects. "I hated the projects. I was frustrated all the time because we were stacked up on top of each other," said Oliver, who said his family moved to Chicago from the South and lived in public housing between 1962 and 1970, when there was social upheaval. "At least in the South you could go out to breathe fresh air and pick some greens."

Hyde Park resident Sharon Warner said the film should be shown to people that don't want to see it. She said the film reminded her of her own dislocation experience being moved from the Del Prado apartments after 21 years. "The former landlords were slum lords. They didn 't replace locks or smoke detectors, and because they didn't make repairs they lost Section 8 subsidies, Warner said. "They tried to collect the Section 8 money they lost from the residents, but I refused. ...

 

 

The third most diverse neighborhood in Chicago

From Redeye, July 28, 2oo8, by Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz

...in a city that historically has been racially segregated...Uptown and other traditionally diverse neighborhoods, including Rogers Park, Hyde Park and Edgewater, are remarkable because they've managed to thrive as diverse communities for decades, becoming neither slums nor totally gentrified as other have....

Community groups that push for affordable housing and good health care, schools and jobs are paramount to maintaining neighborhood diversity, Maly [Michael Maly, Sociology Chair, Roosevelt University] said. The Organization of the North East, founded 34 years ago to "build and sustain a successful multi-ethnic, mixed-economic community"... is an important example,' he said. "....They've gotten people to work on projects together."

Some diversity stems not from tradition, but demographic shifts. Such diversity can be temporary. [Maly adds," I think it's important for our country to have those kinds o spaces where people can rub elbows."

Abstracted from the the measures that went into the ranking: Hyde Park (No. 3)

Measurements of the top 20 "most diverse" communities

41% White, 39% Black, 12% Asian, 5% Hispanic, 6% other (Hispanic question was answered separately.)

46% low income, 38% middle income, 16% high income (of top 20 diverse communities:
average for low income- extremes 61% New City, 26% Ashburn,
rather low for middle income- extremes 59% Ashburn, 32% Near West Side
highest (tied with Near West Side) for high income- majority 5%-7%

13% children (under 18), 67% adult (ages 18-54), 20% senior (over 55)
by far the lowest in children, the highest in adults under 55, third highest in seniors (with Uptown)


HPKCC Conference Reporter September 2008 feature on income diversity and community development trends in Hyde Park

Income Diversity and Community Development in Hyde Park:
A Conversation with D. Garth Taylor (Ph.D. ’77)

Joanne E. Howard

Hyde Park has gone through various changes since the 1960s when urban renewal spread like wildfire across cities around the country. In order to get a perspective on how Hyde Park has changed over the years, the Hyde Park Kenwood Community Conference interviewed D. Garth Taylor (Ph.D. ’77), President of the Metro Chicago Information Center (MCIC) on his views about Hyde Park, neighborhood institutions as anchors, income diversity, and neighborhood vitality. Dr. Taylor is a national expert on community economic development and his most recent study “Income Diversity and the Context of Community Development” was funded by the MacArthur Foundation.

Q: You came to Hyde Park in 1972 to attend graduate school. Why did you pick The University of Chicago?

I chose the University of Chicago to learn how to be a public opinion pollster. I learned a great deal from working at NORC (National Opinion Research Center) and studying Sociology at the U of C.

Q: Can you relate how Hyde Park has changed over the years?

In the 1960s, Hyde Park implemented an urban renewal plan that resulted in the move-out of low-income renters. This resulted in a major change to the housing stock. Literally, hundreds of rental apartments were demolished to try to stabilize the neighborhood. There was some replacement housing built – most of what you see on 55th street between Lake Park and Woodlawn dates from this era.

When I arrived in Hyde Park there were definite boundaries to the neighborhood. These boundaries have expanded a lot since the 1970s.

Q: You have written extensively on income diversity in Chicago. How does Hyde Park compare with other parts of the city?

During the 1980s, 1990s and up until a couple of years ago the housing market of Chicago seemed to be rising with no top end in sight. But interestingly, the number of low income families in Chicago is about the same as in 1970 and the number of high income families is also about the same. What is mostly happening is that the city is becoming a place where there are fewer and fewer middle income families (say, between $40,000 and $80,000 in today’s dollars) and neighborhoods are rearranging themselves as places where there are: more low income families; more high income families; or both.

Hyde Park is a place where the middle income category is on a rapid decline. There is a big growth in the number of high income families, and recently some small growth in low income families as well – making it a “bimodal” type of community. It’s tough to build a neighborhood around two widely divergent income levels – the tastes for services, retail stores, restaurants, types of food in the groceries vary quite a bit. Some people like the diversity, that becomes an important asset for the community.

Neighborhoods need to be really careful about shifting too much in the high income direction. If the guy who fixes bicycles can’t afford to live in Hyde Park that means that there’s not going to be a bicycle store for several miles and something will be lost to the community.

Q: What do you have to say about the “anchors” in Hyde Park?

The communities that most successfully weathered the challenges of living in Chicago in the 1960s and 1970s are the ones that had major anchor institutions -- major employers that were committed to staying – such as hospitals, and universities. University of Chicago played a huge role in defining and managing the urban renewal era in Hyde Park, and in encouraging new home buyers to move in and improve their property. Now, ironically the role of the anchor institution in gentrifying places is often to assist with more balanced growth – finding ways to support the credit and the housing opportunities for an economically diverse population.

Q: From your broad perspective, what are Hyde Park’s plusses?

Compared to the rest of the city, Hyde Park has a lot of amenities that will always make it a desirable place to be. I would say the most important are:

1. Public education -- Hyde Park has done well in maintaining excellence with its schools
2. Reasonably good linkages to public transportation
3. The lakefront and the parks
4. Good neighbors – a high concentration of interesting people per square mile
5. Diversity – The genome project hasn’t yet located the gene for being stimulated by diversity, but I’ll bet there is one. At some point this will be viewed unambiguously as an asset in Hyde Park.

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Antheus acquires Del Prado, East Lake Towers, plans Village Center with seniors in mind; VC with commitment to affordable 15%.

1) Hyde Park Herald, December 19, 2007. By Sam Cholke

Eli Ungar of Antheus Capital and MAC Apartments, confirmed Dec. 3 that they are under contact to purchase Del Prado Apartments, 5307 S. Hyde Park Blvd., and East Park Towers Apartments, 5242 S. Hyde Park Blvd.

"We are scheduled to acquire them at the end of January, and we are in the process of studying them to try to fully understand their current condition," Ungar said. Ungar said that from initial inspections it was likely that Del Prado would need to be emptied of occupants to perform repairs on the building.

"The Del Prado, I think, has some physical conditions that are very difficult if not impossible to address while the building remains fully occupied," Ungar said. From initial inspections of East Park Tower, much of the work - modernizing elevators and heating systems and renovating hallways and lobbies - could be done while residents continued to live in the building, Ungar said.

"The preliminary news is that the East Park Towers appears to be in significantly better shape than the Del Prado, and I think it is not certain, but highly likely, that the work we would want to do in East Park Tower could be done without interrupting occupancy of the building,"

Ungar said they are trying to keep renovation costs low so apartments can remain affordable once repairs are finished. "What we're trying to do is see what we can do at East Park Towers just short of a full renovation so that we wouldn't have to end up with rents that are significantly higher", Ungar said.

Both buildings are at about 70 percent of full occupancy currently , Ungar said. The hope is that some residents could be relocated to East Park Tower while renovations are completed on the Del Prado, he said. Ungar said one of the things they are trying to facilitate in the renovations is providing residents currently in the apartment towers the chance to stay in the community.

"We've been active in Hyde Park for a number of years now and things that were not on our mind when we first got started we've learned by being a part of the community," Ungar said. "Affordability is really first and foremost. There is a significant part of the community that has lived here for a long time, is on a fixed income, and would love to remain in the community and is growing ever more concerned about their ability to afford the community as it gets more expensive."

Antheus capital is mindful of the fact that one of the results of renovating buildings is that they become nicer and more expensive, Ungar said. "Financially, it would probably be better for us to empty both buildings and do a complete renovation. I think there is a market that would readily rent those apartments as soon as they're done," Ungar said. "Having said that, I don't think that's the best overall outcome for the community, and we're trying to be attentive to that and try to find a middle course that allows us to receive a fair return on our investment and also takes into serious consideration the impact it has on the community."


Del Prado's residents' move nears

Hyde Park Herald, March 12, 2008. By Kate Hawley

Tenants at the Del Prado Apartments, 5307 S. Hyde Park Blvd., had mixed reactions to a briefing last week about when they will have to move out to make way for a gut renovation of the building. Tenants will be able to stay until their leases expire, representatives rom MAC Property Management explained at the meeting, held on Tuesday, March 4 at the building.

MAC is the management arm of Antheus Capital, the New Jersey-based company that bought the building in late January. The Del Prado is in need of major repairs that can't be accomplished if the building is occupied, MAC staff explained.

Tenants will have to find and apply for new apartments, but if they move into other buildings managed by MAC, they'll be able to waive the application and move-in fees, according to Wendy Neitzel, MAC's director of property management. Those fees will also be waived if the tenants want to come back to the Del Prado, she said. And tenants can end their leases early without penalty. MAC also plans to invite tenants and local building managers to a housing fair on Thursday, April 3.

Muel Benforde, a building resident, said he found the meeting helpful. "I was pretty much comfortable with what they talked about," he said. "They were very professional about it." He would be interested in moving to another building managed by MAC, he added.

Maribeth Quinn, who has lived in the Del Prado for 23 years, is among the tenants who receive subsidized rent through the Section 8 voucher program. Although she agreed that the building is in disrepair, she was upset about moving. "At first, I cried," she said. "This was my home."She hoped not to have to leave the neighborhood. "I want to stay here in Hyde Park," she said. Section 8 tenants must apply for new apartments that accept vouchers through the Chicago Housing Authority. Whether or not Section 8 tenants can return to the rehabbed Del Prado depends on what the rents will be, which hasn't yet been established, according to Eli Ungar, head of Antheus Capital.

Karen Bevil, a 19-year resident, lives in a market-0rate studio with a view of the lake. She was irked that she'll have to re-apply for anther apartment. "I'm already a tenant, and I'm a tenant of yours by default," she said. "Why should I go through anything but just transfer to another apartment?" Ungar said that since his company inherited these tenants, it has the right to ask them to apply for space in one of its other properties. Bevil also expressed doubt that the building was in need of repair. Ungar said it needs serious attention: the elevators, windows, plumbing, and heating and cooling systems need to be replaced.

Major demolition and rehab won't begin until the last residential lease ends in late fall. The rehab of the building will likely take a year, with the units ready to be leased in the spring of 2010. Ungar said it's too early to tell whether rents in the rehabbed building will be comparable to what they are now, especially since some reconfiguration of the units is likely. The building has a number of 250-square-fot studios that will likely be made into larger, more livable units, he said. "The building will be beautiful and rents will reflect that," Ungar said.

Currently, the Del Prado's roughly 200 apartments are about 65 percent occupied, according to Ungar. The building also has a handful of retail tenants, including a dentist's office and a dry cleaner. Those leases will be honored if the tenants so choose, he said.

2) In July 2008 Antheus rolled out plans for a mixed development replacement for Village Center shopping ctr. at E. Hyde Park Blvd. and Lake Park, to include 170 condos, 15% affordable and 20% accessible, with likely overall accommodation of seniors-friendly components. See Antheus page. Of course, it is a question of whether what is called affordable is, and to whom, in condo developments.

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Ballot initiative in precincts ringing Washington park calls for lots for affordable housing while forum in Hyde Park looks for alleviations. Apparently passed as early vote of 14,000-2,000 indicates.

Chicago Weekly, October 30, 2008. By Laura Mattison, Perspectives: Restraining Zeus- How a local ballot initiative is attempting to control Mayor Daley's Olympian Actions

....One local issue concerns Chicago's prospective hosting of the 2016 Olympics. Voters in certain precincts in Wards 2, 3, 4, and 20 can encourage Mayor Daley and the Chicago 2016 Committee to use part of any potential Olympic windfall to benefit Bronzeville residents. The ballot initiative asks that at least 26% of the city's vacant lots in Bronzeville be used for affordable housing for moderate-income residents. Generally, "affordable" means residents are spending no more than 30% of their gross (before taxes) income on housing. Moderate-income residents earn between 80% and 120% of Chicago's Median Income, targeting the middle class.

The initiative is meant to partially address a major fear many residents have about the prospect of Chicago hosting the 2016 Olympics. Despite the economic and infrastructural benefits Chicago might experience, many people worry that there could be negative impacts on things like housing and transportation for moderate- and low-income residents of South Side neighborhoods. Because the Olympic Stadium would bed located in Washington Park, neighborhoods like Hyde Park and Bronzeville would be especially affected by the 2016 Games. Although the proposed stadium would be a temporary fixture, even that short term structure could have a long-term impact. Groups like the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless believe that low-income and vulnerable groups may be rolled over in the Olympic fever that often takes over the chosen city.

While non expects the degree of widespread evictions witnessed during the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Chicago residents have valid fears that they may be priced out of their neighborhoods. Other cities have faced this problem of displacement as the Olympics have become a larger and larger event. In efforts to spread the benefits of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, Vancouver recently approved the Olympic Legacy Affordable Housing project to create movable modular housing units. The 320 temporary housing units will form part of the Olympic Village and later be moved to other communities to become permanent affordable housing. Hyde Park's Coalition for Equitable Community Development advocates a similar measure to minimize the displacement of area residents by making a third of the Olympic Village units into affordable housing after the "two-week-party" is over.

The opportunities and risks that the Olympics may bring to Chicago were discussed by Hyde Park resident at a recent forum convened by the Coalition for Equitable Community Development at Augustana Lutheran Church. the forum took place on October 18th, and was cosponsored by several local organizations, including the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference and South Siders Organized for Unity and Liberation. Residents spoke about their concerns to speakers, including the community liaison for Chicago 2016 and two aldermen. With issue ranging from parking to gentrification, area residents expressed hopes that a Chicago Olympics could improve the city, and fears that they might not benefit from those improvements.

There are always huge structural changes when a city hosts the Olympics. There may be urban revitalization, as areas of the city are completely transformed by massive public works projects. The boom in tourism and advertising infuses local businesses and large corporations with huge amounts of money. When all these changes have taken place, a city can find itself transformed. Often the biggest changes are seen in areas considered "underutilized," throwing the lives of nearby already disadvantaged people into further chaos. How can we make sure that these people are not trampled in the ensuing Olympic madness? Is a non-binding resolution to recommend some provisions for middle income housing anywhere near enough?

Cities are always changing. Whether it is "white flight" or gentrification, a new influx of immigrants or technological upheaval, American cities have witnessed waves of change that each left their mark. If Chicago receives the mixed blessing of the 2016 Olympics, no one can deny that there will be manor changes, in both the economic and physical structure of the city. The government and Mayor Daley must be careful to ensure that all benefit. A large public works project like hosting the Games is no experiment in the free market. The city is responsible for the changes it enacts, and it must recognize its obligations to assist all people hurt by its Olympian efforts.

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Debate continues over whether CHA transformation is leaving thousands with no good replacement housing and inundating neighborhoods (and the south suburbs) with thousands either unprepared for independent living or criminals*

(*Ald. Hairston decries the inundation and lack of training-services, but blames a set of landlords, not Section 8 for the growth in gangs and criminals while Ald. Preckwinkle points to the dislocation/relocation of gangs.)

In early summer 2008 the Chicago Tribune published a series strongly blaming the CHA. Metropolitan Planning Council takes exception:

"The Metropolitan Planning Council’s advocacy of quality housing options for the city’s low-income and working families dates back to our inception in 1934, and continues today. MPC is deeply involved in promoting the accountability and success of the city’s Plan for Transformation with the full range of stakeholders - including residents, developers, employers, civic and community organizations, and, of course, the CHA and other city agencies. MPC took issue with the Tribune’s article, which failed to acknowledge either the historic progress that has been made, or the context for its critiques.

MPC firmly believes mixed-income housing - linked to reinvestment, good jobs, transit, schools, parks, and other services - is the best way to reverse decades of poverty and isolation for public housing residents. Creating such healthy and thriving communities is a daunting endeavor, considering the challenges. The Plan should be judged by its ability to improve people’s lives, not against an arbitrary timeline.

MPC’s response to the Chicago Tribune, co-authored by The Partnership for New Communities, is available online." http://www.metroplanning.org.

Alderman Preckwinkle also accused the Trib of misrepresenting Transformation-- and redevelopment, in her July 30 Alderman's Report in the Herald

I was deeply disturbed by the story on the Chicago Housing Authority's Plan for Transformation which ran in the Chicago Tribune on July 6. There are transformation developments in my ward and my knowledge of these developments does not correspond with the thrust of the Tribune story.

The reinvention of public housing in Chicago has been complicated and difficult. While there are problems, my constituents are pleased with the changes they see as new, mixed income housing replaces dilapidated, troubled public housing projects. Mayor Daley, Lewis Jordan (Chicago Housing Authority), Valerie Jarrett (Habitat), and everyone else who has been involved deserve our thanks for their vision and hard work.

The article begins with a troubling omission. It glosses over the terrible conditions in the public housing developments in my ward and elsewhere prior to the Plan for Transformation. The Ida B. Wells, Madden Park and Washington Park Homes sites in my ward were plagued by violence, gang and drug activity, terrible management and miserable police protection. My most uncomfortable moments for year were meetings between CHA managers and good and decent public housing residents who begged , without success, for the eviction of bad actors. The condition of public housing in Chicago reflected very badly no only on the housing authority, but also on the city as a whole.

The second glaring error is the implication that developers and managers were chosen for these sites by the friends and allies of the mayor. On the basis of my experience, this is nonsense. Neither the CHA nor Habitat made decisions alone, and to imply otherwise ignores the good work of many dedicated, committed individuals, public housing residents and their lawyers, community residents, the city departments of Planning and Development and Housing, Habitat, Business and Professional People in the Public Interest and my staff and I were all part of the decision making process. This has been a collaborative effort.

In addition, all three working groups I participated in were committed to mixed-income developments that included both rental and for sale housing, reflecting the pattern in the rest of the City. There was also a universal commitment to seamless communities where the income of residents could not readily be determined by the design or materials of their units. This has undeniably resulted in higher per unit costs, and I think it is money well spent.

In fairness, let me acknowledge what the Tribune got right. The initial goal of completing redevelopment in a decade was overly optimistic. From the outset it was clear that twenty or thirty years was a more reasonable timeframe. Furthermore, putting the redevelopment deals together, since they involved layered financing an multi-level government signoffs, was a complex and difficult process. Getting started took longer than anyone anticipated and the recent collapse of the housing market has been an additional obstacle to progress.

Also, while taking down the existing public housing units was absolutely the right thing to do, insufficient consideration was given to the consequences. A handful of African American communities in the City and south suburbs have been inundated with very low income families relocated from public housing units. Neither CHA nor the City had a plan to prevent this re-concentration.

While I am concerned about these issues, I think that the Plan for Transformation has been a tremendous benefit to the communities I serve, and I regret the Tribunes' gloomy and dismal assessments. I understand this is the first of a series of articles and I hope future stories are more balanced. Top

Set aside ordinance- but is is enough?

In May, 2007 City Council and the Mayor compromised to pass a set aside ordinance 42-2. It had the support of Ald. Preckwinkle and Hairston, but aldermen consider it a Trojan Horse. They and other aldermen will be seeking further changes. The minimum is 10% (with opt out into fund allowed); aldermen can negotiate for more.

Ald. Preckwinkle and others told the May 19 Housing Summit in Hyde Park that the Mayor in effect pushed his ordinance through at an extraordinary Monday 8 am meeting just a few days before alder ment who favored a stronger ordinance were to be sworn in. The worst problem is that it sets the definition of affordable units as that affordable to the median six-county income earners ($75,000), defined under federal formula as costing to the buyer $225,000.
The second problem is that the number of such units (or equivalent in payment into the city affordable housing fund) is only 10%. In effect, efforts by aldermen to negotiate for better may be undermined.
The third problem is that it does not apply to all development--only to city-owned property, planned developments, and upzoning.

But, Preckwinkle said, the new Council is expected to push for improvement. 30 percent is sought for the Olympic Village in a Benefits Agreement introduced by several aldermen.

Compromise Affordable set-aside ordinance passes city council, local aldermen approve by seek more.

No less than 10 percent: Alds. Preckwinkle, Hairston approve Daley's affordable housing ordinance. Hyde Park Herald, May 16, 2007. By Kathy Chaney

Hyde Park aldermen Toni Preckwinkle (4th) and Leslie Hairston (5th) pledged their support of Mayor Richard M. Daley's Affordable Requirements Ordinance at a special City Council session May 14. The measure passed 44-2.

"I'm grateful to the 15 aldermen who supported the set-aside idea in December 2002 when we first introduced it and hen the 21 aldermen who supported it in May 204 when we introduced a revised and much more substantive ordinance," Preckwinkle said in council chambers.

The mayor's ordinance, expected to produce about 1,000 units of affordable housing each year, differs from an ordinance championed by Preckwinkle in 2002. It expands the 10 percent mandate to incorporate planned developments, various types of land transactions within the city and changes in zoning that would boost density. It also defines as "affordable" no more than $75,000 per year in annual income for a family of four in Chicago, an amount Preckwinkle felt was too high. *

[Ed. GMO: This means that the units would be offered to affordable-qualified for not less than $225,000- NOT that units are pegged to an affordable price then offered to families of four earning as much as $75,000. This, setting a high income level that defines the prices for the units, these aldermen say, makes them not affordable to most living in their wards on the South and West Sides. Still, to afford median housing in the 6-county Chicago Region (spending about the recommended quarter of income on housing), a family of four with one earner needs to earn about c$15 an hour, half again the proposed floor of the failed big-box ordinance, $10. ]

"our new policy will support economic development, increase the supply of affordable housing and make sure people have the housing choices that meet their needs. We're much more progressive than any other city," Daley said.

Developers would be offered an alternative. For a contribution of $100,000-per-unit to the city's affordable housing trust fund, a developer could opt out of the requirement.

In 2002, Preckwinkle devised an ordinance that required 25 percent of units be set-aside for affordable housing. That measure did not garner the support of the mayor and other aldermen, stating the ordinance would drive potential developers away.

Two years later, Preckwinkle offered a revised version to City Council that required developers to set aside 15 percent of units for affordable housing. the ordinance also defined "affordable" as no more than $60,000 per year in annual income for a family of four. Pilsen Ald. Billy Ocasio (26th) wanted it lowered to nearly $50,000. Both amendments for the reduced annual income were defeated.

Hairston said the ordinance was "not definitive" but "one more step towards the final goal" adding that the definition of affordable excludes many of her constituents."We need to be real with what we're doing in our own backyards. We need to get on the right track," she said.

Most aldermen said the ordinance should be celebrated as a victory because it is a step in the right direction while a few feared the ordinance would block their attempts of getting more units set-aside by developers.

"It's a minimum that establishes a a baseline across the city," the mayor said, adding that any alderman could negotiate for a larger percentage in their wards [ignoring that that leads to distortions, even avoidance and redlining].

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The call for the May 19 2007 summit and talk; Herald report

Hyde Park Herald, May 16, 2007, by Brian Wellner.

The future of Hyde Park's housing will be discussed at a summit from 9 .m. to 11 a.m. May 19 at University church, 5655 S. University Ave. Also discussed at the summit will be the creation of a housing committee for Hyde Park. The event follows a panel discussion last year regarding the fate of affordable housing in the neighborhood.

Organizers recently told the Herald that community leaders and elected officials should demand economic diversity in the area's housing. "There's a consolidation of our housing stock and people are getting squeezed," said Hyde Parker and organizer John Murphy."Longtime residents who grew up here and raised their families here find that they cannot stay here once they retire."

Murphy is a social worker for the Hyde Park-Kenwood Interfaith Open Communities, one of the event's sponsors. Other sponsors include Hyde Park Older Women's League, Hyde Park -Kenwood Community Conference, Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce and the University of Chicago's Office of Community Affairs.

If participants at the summit agree, a housing committee could created as soon as October.

Organizer Pat Wilcoxen suggested that one of the first tasks of the newly-formed committee could be to create an inventory of current rental housing in Hyde Par. "This would not be a service organization. We would do research, give information and work with developers at the very early stages," she said.

Murphy said Interfaith Open Communities has met with Eli Ungar of Mac Property Management/Antheus Capital on numerous occasions about preserving rental housing in the neighborhood. Ungar's company recently purchased 47 apartment buildings throughout Hyde Park and said that while converting apartments is not totally out of the question, he would maintain at least most of them rentals. Many of the buildings were previously managed by K 7 G Management LLC. As a result of the sale, Mac now manages 2,800 rental units in Hyde Park, making it one of the neighborhood's largest property managers.

According to Wilcoxen, there has not been resistance from the development community about the creation of a neighborhood housing committed."Developers respond better the broader the organization," she said.

As for the lack of developable land in the area, Murphy responded by pointing to Harper Court. "It's an excellent location," he said. "We need a meeting of the minds."

For information on the summit, call Murphy at 459-4082 or Wilcoxen at 643-7495.

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Herald report on the May 19 summit- Groups vote unanimously to create housing committee

May 23, 2007. By Yvette Bresberry

Several community groups and residents of Hyde Park and Kenwood voted May 19 to create a committee to support affordable housing in the area.

Members of the Interfaith Open Communities (IOC), an organization known for addressing local concerts, met with other community organizers and local residents to discuss ways to create and sustain affordable housing for current long-term residents. They then approved unanimously to create a housing committee that supports affordable housing to residents of all income levels.

Although Mayor Richard M. Daley recently passed a housing ordinance that required 10 percent of planned housing developments be set aside for affordable housing for a household of four earning $75,000 annual income, IOC members said more would need to be done to keep affordable housing in a consistently changing area like Hyde Park and Kenwood.

Hyde Park resident John McDermott said that Hyde Park might face housing problems if the Olympics are placed in Washington Park in 2016 and the South Loop continues to stretch into Douglas, with new business and housing developments.

McDermott brought up that while city officials are hoping the Olympics will produce revenue for the city as a whole, businesses and residents who may be affected by the Games' arrival, mainly in Kenwood and Hyde Park, are concerned about losing land to gentrification. He wondered what benefits Hyde Park will reap by the Olympics' popularity, particularly in housing.

"Hyde Park might be facing a whole new set of problems," McDermott said.

While considering creating a committee to supervise options for affordable housing, some attendees asked why this new committee could not be an extension of the Interfaith Open Communities. "We want to broaden the base as much as possible," said organizer Pat Wilcoxen, adding that the new committee is intended to be an organization of organizations and not just linked to one group.

Ken Oliver, the meeting moderator and IOC's executive director, said the next step is to add people to the housing committed and inaugurate the group by the fall. "We'll be looking to [add] a convention this fall, maybe October," Oliver said.

 

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What will be the impact over time, if any, of purchase of 47 mostly K and G affordable unit buildings by rehabbers MAC Properties?

Disabilities Task Force: A task force on rights and responsibilities of and towards People with Disabilities or face barriers or non compliance is in full action. Call the Conference office, 773 288-8343, Lenora Austin at Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce, 773 288-0124 or Sue Purrington at the 5th Ward Office, 773 324-5555. Visit the Disabilities Task Force page.

October 13, 2006. The city's Chicago Center for Green Technology hosted a workshop, Building for Sustainability. Affordable Housing, Energy Management, Healthy Homes, High Design Results. Attendees learned about best solutions and results, grant programs and other resources including preview of the coming "Green Guide" to local resources, the challenges to affordable green design, new projects. At the Center, 445 N. Sacramento Blvd. Call David Theiss at 312 252-0440 x205 for information.

Meanwhile the Metropolitan Planning Council has published HomeGrown: Housing Strategies in Action (colab. of MPC, Chicago Metropolis 2020 and Metropolitan Mayor's Caucus.)

There is a new affordability index from The Brookings Institution and endorsed by Center for Neighborhood Technology: http://www.brookings.edu/metro/umi/pubs/20060127_affindex.htm. More description in the Affordability Forum page.

UC panel discusses micro credit

Hyde Park Herald, March 19, 2008

A student group at the University of Chicago [Southside Solidarity Network] hosted a panel Thursday to explore how micro credit -- the practice of handing out very small loans --might be applied locally. Microcredit gained international attention in 2006 when the Nobel Peach Prize was awarded to Gameen Bank of Bangladesh and its founder, economist Muhammad Yunus.

By extending microcredit to more than five million borrowers, Yunus and Grameen empowered people, many of them women, who would otherwise have been cut off from economic opportunity.

The panelists at Thursday's event expressed a similar goal. Kathleen Robbins, of the Illinois Small Business Development Center at Hull House Association, descried lending $150 to one client to help her start a hat-making business. And two officials from Shorebank described their institution's broad efforts to help low- and moderate-income clients.

"Our experience has been that the markets are really weak for small business customers, with the exception of rehabbing apartment buildings," said Mary Houghton, president of Shorebank corp.

However, microcredit doesn't have the kind of broad application in this country that it has had in third-world countries abroad,noted Kate Rogers, vice president of marketing and lending with ACCION Chicago, an affiliate of ACCION USA, the nation's largest micro-lender. And micro-lending has diminished in Chicago in the last few years as credit markets have tightened, sid Duane Wadlington, a loan officer with Chicago Community Ventures, a nonprofit focused on small-business development.

Expert Claire Mahon who wrote report for Geneva's Center on Housing Rights and Evictions shares impacts, warns of dangers in Olympics

From Maroon, November 11, 2008 by Carolanne Fried.

The Organization of black Students hosted a discussion Monday to examine the impact that the Olympic Games could have on housing, one of many human rights-related issues being raised as Chicago bids to host the games in 2016. The event featured Claire Mahon, a senior researcher for the Center n Human Rights and Evictions [COHRE, www.chore.org/mega-events], an organization that investigates the impact of major events on housing problems. She is the primary author of a recently published report, "Fairplay for Housing Rights," which was designed to instruct countries, cities, and individuals invested in hosting the Olympics. [She has been visiting London, Vancouver and Chicago this year.]

"The Olympic Games are a catalyst for what is already going on," Mahon said in an opening statement, stressing that preexisting problems in host cities can be exponentially exacerbated by the games. These problems include displacement due to construction of venues and gentrification, disproportionately detrimental effects on already marginalized communities, limited transparency, and a deadline-oriented mentality that allows for regulatory measures to be minimized, Mahon said.

"We think Chicago is a fabulous opportunity," she said, qualifying that her message wasn't entirely pessimistic. "Think about what areas and opportunities there are for improving this wonderful city, to make it a world-class city for all people who live in it and not just a few."

In addition to improving the city, Chicago's bid could change the way the Olympics are managed by highlighting the importance of housing rights and other human rights issues, Mahon said. She added that the goal is plausible if Chicago immediately starts to make its Olympic bid socially sustainable.

"The only think that really worked in other cities was the power of community activism," she said, when asked how host cities have improved over the years.

As for University involvement, Mahon recommended that students and faculty work together with local community leaders to be active, aware, and to enforce accountability. It is important to look at th e failures of cities as distant as Beijing and as near as Atlanta, because they are surprisingly alike in their treatment of lower income groups, Mahon said. "What you do really can change the shape of Chicago as a city [as well as] how it reacts to the Olympic games," she said.


By Gary Ossewaarde:

Ms. Mahon said the guidebook looks at several past Olympics to arrive at "cities best practices" and why the opposite often occurs. Impacts range from aggregate to localized (often NOT near the venues) and often come from rushing and impatience. Generally these accelerate what is already in process or reflects long-term objectives, interests or prejudices about what seems best to wealthy backers and stakeholders. So what are the impacts and why are they so often disproportionate?

1. Direct displacement and tear-down. Sometimes just actualizes what was on long-term radar, sometimes to "clean things up" and look pretty. Sometimes it's targeted-- Athens against Roma (Gypsies). London public recipients. Often to get poor out of the city. Often claims its replacing bad public housing with mixed income. Often wrecks where the displaced go to, which them become targets.

2. Gentrification and reclamation displacement. Giving land and benefits to people who weren't there before and increase overall proportion of better-off. "No time" to ameliorate or allow litigation.

3 Affordability effect displacement. Disproportionately on elderly, low income. Many lose long-held homes and die, impact on health, suicides. Happened in Beijing, (esp. suicides), Korea including intimidation and beatings and arson by new buyers and government, Vancouver. In Beijing effects from direct to indirect displacement affected at least 1.5 million reported. In the 1988 Olympics, lots were forced to live underground hidden so as not to be visible from Olympic-traveled highways.

4. Homeless increase and treatment. Impacted and targeted also prostitutes. In Vancouver, Atlanta new forbidden actions were enacted so anywhere homeless went or whatever they did was excuse for mistreatment, arrest, or expulsion--business associations hired "cleaners and greeters" whose job was to harass and push homeless. In Atlanta 9,000 warrants were preprinted "Male, black.."

5. Reduction in public and subsidized housing, generally with no public input.

6. Special legal authority so the host and sites can be "ready." Overriding of legal protections, right of appeal, community input. Went with loss of transparency and marginalization of "oversight" committees. Agreements often abrogated as soon as baton passed from bid committee to managing committee. Using the committees to evade city accountability, then committees go away. The financial backers decide, but cannot be called to account.

7 Loss of Transparency.

The International Olympic Committee has lots of problems with accountability, even (maybe not all in past) collusion, and goal to put on the show. But is has also over the years established standards and Olympic Impact Study windows and look for "best practices." The latest to be added, tried out at Sydney, was Environmental Sustainability. Being tested for next at Vancouver, London, and Chicago is Social Sustainability-- she said Chicago should be pressed to strive to set be a model for Social Sustainability in its Olympics. It needs to develop an INCLUSIONARY STATEMENT (as Vancouver did, although not following it), targets, guiding committees, public participation. Targets could include providing enough SROs and affordable family housing, not swapping affordable into tourist hotels and wealthy housing, bars to backtracking on affordable, clear lines of recognizable authority to cut buck-passing. City and those in charge have to made to commit in ways that responsibilities pass along with the baton. They must follow the Olympic Impact Study guidelines and do better that that. A clear goal is ending with increased affordable housing and economic diversity.

The key is strong, active activist organizations. One thing that can be used, she said, is insistence on adhering to the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights- the Bush Admin. delegate to the UN agreed that housing is a right. That right is defined in UNESCO guidelines. The UN HRD also includes "Participation." The enforceable catchword for all of these is "Precautionary Measures."

Also needing to be checked, she said is misuse of TIFing and what TIFs do, use of taxing power.

And Ballot initiative in precincts ringing Washington park calls for lots for affordable housing while forum in Hyde Park looks for alleviations. It passed.

This Oct. 30 Chicago Weekly article tells what was in the referendum recently passed in several precincts, although not actual text. It also discusses the Oct. 18 forum. Gary

Chicago Weekly, October 30, 2008. By Laura Mattison, Perspectives: Restraining Zeus- How a local ballot initiative is attempting to control Mayor Daley's Olympian Actions

....One local issue concerns Chicago's prospective hosting of the 2016 Olympics. Voters in certain precincts in Wards 2, 3, 4, and 20 can encourage Mayor Daley and the Chicago 2016 Committee to use part of any potential Olympic windfall to benefit Bronzeville residents. The ballot initiative asks that at least 26% of the city's vacant lots in Bronzeville be used for affordable housing for moderate-income residents. Generally, "affordable" means residents are spending no more than 30% of their gross (before taxes) income on housing. Moderate-income residents earn between 80% and 120% of Chicago's Median Income, targeting the middle class.

The initiative is meant to partially address a major fear many residents have about the prospect of Chicago hosting the 2016 Olympics. Despite the economic and infrastructural benefits Chicago might experience, many people worry that there could be negative impacts on things like housing and transportation for moderate- and low-income residents of South Side neighborhoods. Because the Olympic Stadium would be located in Washington Park, neighborhoods like Hyde Park and Bronzeville would be especially affected by the 2016 Games. Although the proposed stadium would be a temporary fixture, even that short term structure could have a long-term impact. Groups like the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless believe that low-income and vulnerable groups may be rolled over in the Olympic fever that often takes over the chosen city.

While no one expects the degree of widespread evictions witnessed during the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Chicago residents have valid fears that they may be priced out of their neighborhoods. Other cities have faced this problem of displacement as the Olympics have become a larger and larger event. In efforts to spread the benefits of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, Vancouver recently approved the Olympic Legacy Affordable Housing project to create movable modular housing units. The 320 temporary housing units will form part of the Olympic Village and later be moved to other communities to become permanent affordable housing. Hyde Park's Coalition for Equitable Community Development advocates a similar measure to minimize the displacement of area residents by making a third of the Olympic Village units into affordable housing after the "two-week-party" is over.

The opportunities and risks that the Olympics may bring to Chicago were discussed by Hyde Park residents at a recent forum convened by the Coalition for Equitable Community Development at Augustana Lutheran Church. The forum took place on October 18th, and was cosponsored by several local organizations, including the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference and South Siders Organized for Unity and Liberation. Residents spoke about their concerns to speakers, including the community liaison for Chicago 2016 and two aldermen. With issues ranging from parking to gentrification, area residents expressed hopes that a Chicago Olympics could improve the city, and fears that they might not benefit from those improvements.

There are always huge structural changes when a city hosts the Olympics. There may be urban revitalization, as areas of the city are completely transformed by massive public works projects. The boom in tourism and advertising infuses local businesses and large corporations with huge amounts of money. When all these changes have taken place, a city can find itself transformed. Often the biggest changes are seen in areas considered "underutilized," throwing the lives of nearby already disadvantaged people into further chaos. How can we make sure that these people are not trampled in the ensuing Olympic madness? Is a non-binding resolution to recommend some provisions for middle income housing anywhere near enough?

Cities are always changing. Whether it is "white flight" or gentrification, a new influx of immigrants or technological upheaval, American cities have witnessed waves of change that each left their mark. If Chicago receives the mixed blessing of the 2016 Olympics, no one can deny that there will be major changes, in both the economic and physical structure of the city. The government and Mayor Daley must be careful to ensure that all benefit. A large public works project like hosting the Games is no experiment in the free market. The city is responsible for the changes it enacts, and it must recognize its obligations to assist all people hurt by its Olympian efforts. Top

Employer Assisted Housing helping some weather the foreclosure storm

...among the more than 1,600 employees who have purchased homes through employer-assisted housing in Illinois since 2000, both housing and work stability have been high. The success rate of home purchase through programs administered by REACH Illinois can be attributed to the counseling provided to buyers to ensure they are well prepared for the responsibilities of home ownership, and take on mortgages they can afford over time.

The Metropolitan Planning Council's leadership on employer-assisted housing began with just one manufacturer in 2000. That successful program led to the creation of Illinois matching funds and tax credits, and more than 70 additional employer sign-ons and several new small business consortia by mid 2008. More than 2,700 employees have been counseled, an estimated $1.5 million in employer dollars went to help employees purchase homes in Illinois in 2007.

EAH has been a door-opener, engaging business leaders and policymakers in discussions about housing needs. It has sparked conversations among local mayors that have led to new inclusionary housing ordinances, land trusts, affordable housing developments in expensive, job-rich areas, and investments in distressed communities. MPC’s role in employer-assisted housing (EAH) has been cited repeatedly as a national model, and the Illinois tax credits have inspired introduction of a federal EAH incentive.

Staying in your home- nursing homes are not the only option- and how people can be helped to or while staying in their own home. Adapted from Streetwise Nov. 19 2008 and expanded by Gary Ossewaarde. And there is the Village...(see page).

These days the latter are mainly for those requiring 24 hour care, and most have in-between assisted care or transitional options.

Who can help you stay at home, and make that a quality experience? Illinois Department of Aging (IDoA) Community Care is one. It's for those over 60 with up to $17,500 assets plus car and or home who need some homemaking care such as with cooking, cleaning, shopping, laundry, errand and personal care including medication supervision, and of course emergency response. It uses a Determination of Need scale (same as for disabled and young) with the goal of reducing institutionalization. Provided is up to 20 (normal is 10) hours of help a week. There are rigidities-- 4 hour blocks is not for everyone, and many need help more than once a day or on a weekend. And the rule that caregivers can't touch for many may be impractical (and impersonal) as well as an over reaction to obvious problems. A new law helps alleviate some of these drawbacks.

Several organizations work for improvement on a large scale, such as Jane Addams Senior Caucus. This group also helps landlords with seniors under the program take advantage of incentives to lower real estate taxes-as much as half. JASC also conducted petition drives for affordable housing and Section 8 preservation. Some organizations (including SOAR on the Near North) provide seniors with lists of stores and services (i.e. pharmacies, hardware, grocers) that deliver, and put these lists on their website- and does it ever get hits! and distributed to buildings .

There are now many "supportive" and "assisted living" homes in the city that are highly praised.

On the less intensive side of "home living" is "NORC's"- Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities where people are aging in place in one or several buildings- about half are over 60 and but the buildings have not been "adapted" (Isn't this a definition of a lot of housing in Hyde Park?)-- Such a housing stock can be godsend or the next coming "big problem." Adapting them if needed might be expensive even if subsidized, thus reducing affordability. But many may be at just the right balance. It might be a good idea to identify and evaluate these in the community and let the people who might like such housing and are in reasonable shape know of those buildings that are in ideal balance between condition and attractiveness, affordability, and accessibility (including to shopping and transportation). Perhaps owners might be helped to find best practices to keep the buildings that way. A key barrier to seniors use of such housing may be height, the so-called "elevator threshold" plus costs of height such as facade, life-safety, and elevator mandates.

Beacon Hill is a membership (dues $500 to $800 a year) organization with ideas and initiatives that partner with agencies and businesses for discounted rates and services. This includes escort or driving services to the doctor, store etc., deliveries, even handy- or trades persons. The sky seems to be limits, and some places are already providing these services to the less affluent under pilot programs, according to the boomer-senior research institute Civic Ventures. Some such might help increase the attractiveness and viability of the NORC's.

From Hyde Park Urbanist:

Renting is Fine
Richard Florida writes in the Atlantic that the American fetish for home ownership is counterproductive:

And while homeownership has some social benefits—a higher level of civic engagement is one—it is costly to the economy. The economist Andrew Oswald has demonstrated that in both the United States and Europe, those places with higher homeownership rates also suffer from higher unemployment. Homeownership, Oswald found, is a more important predictor of unemployment than rates of unionization or the generosity of welfare benefits. Too often, it ties people to declining or blighted locations, and forces them into work—if they can find it—that is a poor match for their interests and abilities.

As homeownership rates have risen, our society has become less nimble: in the 1950s and 1960s, Americans were nearly twice as likely to move in a given year as they are today. Last year fewer Americans moved, as a percentage of the population, than in any year since the Census Bureau started tracking address changes, in the late 1940s. This sort of creeping rigidity in the labor market is a bad sign for the economy, particularly in a time when businesses, industries, and regions are rising and falling quickly.

The rest of the article hints at some of the changes the current crisis might bring to American regions and cities.

Qumbya and Co-operative Living. To more.

From the HPKCC Conference Reporter, August 2010, Vol. 16 No. 2. By HPKCC board member and Qumbya resident David Nekimken

I live in Qumbya housing co-op in Hyde Park. The co-op has three houses. Bowers, in which I live, is on University; Concord is on Blackstone, and Haymarket is on Ridgewood. Each house creates its own community, with a board overseeing the overall co-op. Qumbya is model of renting one's own room, rather than renting/owning one's apartment or house. What are the main features that make our co-op affordable, desirable and enticing? There are four:

Shared resources.

It si not just about low room rental rates, with a range for small to larger rooms. We share the costs of utilities and food, making it a fraction of the cost if each of us had to buy our own food and pay for own utilities. Money saved by the members doing much of the work in the houses ourselves.

There are more intangible ways of sharing costs. The few who own cars share them with the rest of the house members. We share kitchen appliances, tools and computers. Beyond this, anyone can ask if anyone in the house has something that he/she needs in the moment, be it a postage stamp,hair dryer or poster board, directions to get to a North Side address, or a recommendation of a good club or restaurant in Lakeview, and so on. And when one of our members needs emotional support, the rest of us come to her/his aid. We are here to celebrate members' joys. Which brings me to an important point. The sharing is not just financial/material, it is about community, an extended family. A diverse group of unrelated adults, of varied backgrounds, create a sustainable, evolving community, lake a large extended family.

Shared space.

It should already be clear that we share the space in the house. we are not each paying for our own bathroom kitchen, dining rom, living room, workroom, laundry room, food storage, yard, etc. we don't each need our own set of dishes, glasses, silverware, kitchen utensils and cookware, cleaning supplies. I think you get the idea. More than that, we share the common spaces of the house socially. we are always meeting each other in the hallways, in the dining room and kitchen, in the living room, on the front porch. Conversations and both planned and spontaneous social events occur.

Shared time.

We spend some of our time as co-op members doing assigned chores (some of us in elected positions) to maintain and improve the quality of life in the house and community, from cleaning to bookkeeping to food buying to recruiting new members. we take turns cooking dinner for each other. We participate in weekly meetings to discuss house issues and make collective decisions about our community.

Democratic process.

Every house member has an equal say in how the house is run, maintained and improved, and in the very nature of teh community. Mutual trust and cooperation, individual and collective accountability, an open lines of communication are the bulwarks that sustain the community. We have control of our organization, our living space; we make decisions to ensure current and future affordability. We all have a sense of ownership, empowering each of us, the members, to practice sustainability in our daily lives.

I would like to see co-operative housing promoted as a viable option for creative affordable living in Hyde Park and the surrounding area. Qumbya is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit entity, with a mandate for affordable housing. We have an open membership policy, meaning we don't recruit for a particular interest or agenda. There are two considerations for achieving this goal. A co-op of apartments is less easily accomplished with existing buildings than with single rental rooms, as is Qumbya. this model of co-op living accomplishes density without overcrowding. The other point is that the creation of a co-op is different from the usual procedure. Apartment buildings, condos, townhouses are built and then are rented or sold. Creating a co-op requires requires founding a community of individuals first, then finding a property. both can be done at the same time. the individuals buying into the concept are crucial. With homes for sale or in foreclosure, an existing co-op or a new one could relatively easily find and affordable building. Identifying teh community is the other important ingredient. Co-ops are in our futures. Want to know more? Visit www.qumbya.com. To more.

Cohousing Resources

Cohousing: A Contemporary Approach to Housing Ourselves. Kathryn McCamant, Charles Durrett, and Ellen Hertzman. Ten Speed Press, 1988 and 1994.

Senior Cohousing, A Community Approach to Independent Living. Kathryn McCamanat, Charles Durrett. mccamant-durrett.com.

The Cohousing Handbook: Building a Place for Community. Chris ScottHanson and Kelly ScottHanson. Consortium, 2004.

Communities magazine. Fellowship for Intentional Community. www.store.ic.org.

Reinventing community: Stories from the Walkways of Cohousing. David Wann. Fulcrum Publishing, 2005.

Communities Directory: A Guide to Intentional Communities and Cooperative Living. Fellowship for Intentional Community, 2000.

Creating a Life Together: Practical Tools to Grow Ecovillages and Intentional Communities. Diana Leaffe Christian. Consortium, 2002.

Ecovillage Living: Restoring the Earth and her People. Hildur Jackson and Karen Swensson. Green books, 2002.

The New Urbanism: Toward an Architecture of Community. Peter Katz. McGraw-Hill Professional, 1993.

The Not So Big House Collection: The Not So Big House and Creating teh Hot So Big House. Sarah Susanka. Taunton Press, 2002.

A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction. Christopher Alexander, Sara Ishikawa, and Murray Silverstein. Oxford University Press, 1977.

Small Houses for the Next Century. Duo Dickinson. McGraw-Hill, 1995.

Superbia: 31 Ways to Create Sustainable Neighborhoods. Dan Chiras and Dave Wann. New Society, 2003.

Charter of the New Urbanism. The Congress for the New Urbanism. McGraw-Hill Professional, 1999.


Chicago Cohousing Network. www.chicagocohousing.net
The Cohousing Assn of the United States. www.cohousing.org
Chicago Community Loan Fund. www.cclfchicago.org/lending/co-op.html
Cohousing Resources, LLC. www.cohousingresources.com
Community Associations Institute. www.caionline.org
Federation for Egalitarian Communities. www.thefec.org
Fellowship for Intentional Community (FIC). www.fic.org
National Institute of Housing Cooperatives. www.coophousing.com

Videos: Escape From Affluenza (1998), Visions of Utopia: Experiments in Sustainable Culture (2002)

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GrandFamilies and Hyde Park Self-Help Educational Group

GrandFamilies forms empowerment group in Hyde Park

Hyde Park Herald July 21, 2010. Hyde Park grandparents get boost. By Daschell M. Phillips

The GrandFamilies Program of Chicago has created five new grandparents empowerment groups across the city, including one in Hyde Park, to provide education and resources for grandparents raising their grandchildren. These programs are part of a national push for more legal and financial support for this growing population of families.

According to the 2000 U.S. Census, there are more than 2.4 million children across the country living in grandparent-headed households. In Illinois, more than 210,000 children under the age of 18 are living with grandparents and in Chicago, more than 41,300.

Grandparent advocates throughout the state have been fighting for the rights of grandparent guardianship for many years. "We are one of the last two countries that don't have laws to help grandparents," said Adrian Mary Charniak, who leads a grandparent empowerment group at Rush Hospital in Oak Park.

Charniak took her grandson, who was born with cocaine in his system, about 12 years ago because her son and his wife were incapable of taking care of him. A few years after she began taking care of her grandson she hired a lawyer and paid for her son's divorce and for his right to have custody of her grandson so she could continue to take care of him. Charniak said she thought that after so many years of providing a stable home for her grandson she was legally protected but when her son died last yer, her ex-daughter-in-law began to fight for custody again.

"I've been to court 112 times because there are no laws in place supporting grandparents' rights," said Charniak, who has made it her mission to spare other grandparents the trials she has gone through by traveling throughout the state speaking at workshops, seeking donations of clothes, furniture another resources from church congregations and testifying about the plight of grandparents who raise grandchildren in Washington, D.C. in hopes that laws can be made to protect and support them.

So far, Charniak's work has helped with the passage of the Fostering Connections Law, which was signed Oct. 7, 2008, mandating that grandparents, aunts and uncles, be notified before a child goes to foster care. And she is also an advocate for creating a de facto law in Illinois "that once a child lives in a loving home with needs met for two or m ore years parents can't come back for custody of the kids unless grandparents can no longer take care of them or unless the parents can prove they are capable of taking care of the kids." "Some people just want their kids back so they can get public aid, and foster parents can get about $500 a month to take care of kids -- but no help is given to grandparents," Charniak said.

Having learned from many years of legal battles and financial constraints of grandparents across the country, Linette Kinchen, the founder and executive director of the GrandFamilies Program of Chicago, said the grandparent empowerment programs were developed to be much more than just a support group. "Traditionally, groups would get together have guest speakers and discuss challenges and issues," said Kinchen, who is still raising two of her three grandchildren that were placed in her care. "But now we've taken what we've learned over the years and created a curriculum, a toolkit and training guide."

The most important thing grandparents who are raising their grandchildren should remember is "you are not alone," said Cheryl Harvey Singleton, who is raising four of her grandsons and will be leading the Hyde Park grandparent empowerment group.

The Hyde Park Self-Help Educational group will meet once a month for 12 months and follow a curriculum that was created by the program in collaboration with Evanston, Ill.-based senior research organization Mather LifeWays. The curriculum will provide information and resources for grandparents about fining housing, managing finances, how to get healthcare, how to enroll children in school and interact with teachers and other resources available to them and their children. The adults in the empowerment program will also be taught how to form their won groups and educate other grandparents in their communities.

The Hyde Park Self-Help Educational Group will met every third Wednesday of each month from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m starting August 18 at Ellis Avenue Church at 5001 S. Ellis Ave. There will also be groups meeting in the Loop, Rush University Medical Center, the south suburbs, and Oak Park. For more information contact Cheryl Harvey Singleton at 1-888-GRAND-03 or visit grandfamilieschicago.org.

 

 

Legislative update spring 2006 (as of April 10)

From Interfaith Open Communities

Illinois- for latest go to www.ilga.gov

Comprehensive Housing Planning Act SB 220. Martinez Sen, Hamos House. Passed both April 6, expected to be signed.

New law requiring an annual housing plan, strengthening Executive Order 2003-18 for Illinois Housing Task Force.

Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program HB 1744.Covin House, passed, amended and passed in Senate, likely passed now by both.

Allow voluntary donations to ILHEAP and transfers into the fund $5.2m according to a formula.

7% Tax Cap Permanent Extension and raised minimum benefit SB 2699 was SB 700. Hoolihan and Daley support--should have passed, ask rep. or senator.

Residential Tenant Protection Act HB 4758. Failed. Princ. sponsor Housing Action Illinois. Makes lockout of tenants illegal and codifies case law decisions with assigned penalties.

Safe Homes Act Hb4715. Rep Kelly passed both. Illegal to evict a victim of domestic abuse and allows same right to terminate joint-tenancy lease.

State budget from Governor. One-time uses of Affordable Housing Trust Fund surplus of $22.5m. Ask rep. or sen. what passed.

Federal- for latest go to http://thomas.loc.gov

President Bush called for small increase in Section 8 voucher funding but reduction in public housing capital budget and Community Development Block Grants, calls for passage of a Flexible Voucher Act. Disagreement.

New affordable housing (GSE such as Fannie Mae) Deadlocked.

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Follow up planned to April 29 2006 Hyde Park Affordable Housing forum

[The group is now considering a narrower focus and organization of a funding arm, such as a community development corporation.]

From Joan Staples and Pat Wilcoxen, Housing Forum Planning Committee, Hyde Park Herald, May 31, 2006

Thank you for providing a background article on affordable housing (Herald, April 26( as well as publicity before the April 29 forum and follow up to that event including editorial support (Herald, May 10).

As recommended by those attending the housing forum, a task force is in formation to explore opportunities for affordable housing in Hyde Park, Kenwood and Woodlawn. Those interested in joining the task force may call the convener, Julius Yacker, at 363-0328.

A summary of the April 29 forum will soon be available on the web sit of Interfaith Open Communities (IOCillinois.org) and the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference [April292006forum page]. A summary will also be sent to those who attended.

Future meetings are planned for the fall.

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Higher end realty holding up well

According to a Herald article in November 2007 by Sam Cholke, while velocity of real estate sales in the $2 million and up class has dropped here, it is less than for other neighborhoods and show signs of turning around, and prices have held steady. Housing prices in Hyde Park are traditionally over 15% below those in Lincoln Park and Bucktown-- and holds its value better. Diane Silverman of Urban Search cited the University anchor, variety and distinctiveness of of styles and strong sense of community for the steadiness, noting that people buy here basically to live. She also noted that media attention and other trends have reduced the untrustworthy lenders, contributing to more stable lending for neighborhoods like Hyde Park that have shown consistent appreciation. She expects activity to pick up in the spring.

At the meeting on the 56th Cornell proposed 26-story condo high rise, Bob Mason of South East Chicago Commission said this new building for condo buyers will fill a missing niche while not driving anyone out and will bring in new customers to grow retail that will benefit all. He noted that Hyde Park's population peaked at 71,000 half a century ago and bottomed out at 42,000 at the end of the past century.

At the same meeting, John and Brenda Murphy of Interfaith Open Communities, along with Eli Ungar of Antheus Capital, announced terms of affordability for the 5528 Cornell building that Antheus bought and will remain just north of the Solstice on the Park project. Current residents will have rents frozen into perpetuity, and new tenants will have affordable rents into perpetuity. Top

Jack Spicer's prescription to HPKCC Development Committee after 53rd Vision Workshop 2008

Affordable housing was not thoroughly dealt with at the workshop. it is standard practice for affordable housing advocates... to petition (beg) the aldermen to encourage (lean on) developers to provide below market units in their developments. Nobody is building new rental right now, so this is mostly low-end condos or off-site rental in older buildings. There's not much potential here for poor or old people because the condos are still too expensive and the off-site rental isn't where people are now living. Why not create a not-for-profit community development corporation that creates and manages "low-equity co-op housing"? The local banks and the developers involved in local projects would be partners and community members could buy shares in the corporation and "invest" affordable housing. Development and "gentrification" are going to happen in Hyde Park. As we work to make sure it is good and smart development, we need to take it into our own hands to limit the damage to poor and old people. Not-for-profit, low-equity co-op housing corporations are operating all around the country, often in the same way a nature conservation land trust operates. Burlington, Vermont has a good one (also has a good, successful co-op grocery store, by the way). Top

Preserving Apartments and rental housing in general

Drawn from pamphlet from the Chicago Rehab Network, May 2006. There was a Southside Affordable Rental Housing Preservation Summit Saturday June 3.Chicago Rehab Network, 312 663-3936. http://www.chicagorehab.org

[Note, the national real estate board says rents are starting to soar, April's rise in Chicago being twice that of the previous year.]

The South Side (c. 27th to 95th, Lake to west edge) has about 12, 400 units of affordable-defined rental housing. By 2010, over half, 7,100 units are in risk of being lost.

Of the units above, Hyde Park is listed as having 24 units of affordable rental housing, Kenwood 690, Oakland 176, Grand Boulevard 658, Washington Park 368, Woodlawn 1109 and South Shore 685.

There is an Illinois law, the Federally-Assisted Housing Preservation Act that gives tenants several opportunities to intervene if an owner plant to terminate affordable rents. There is an increased set of situations in which owners of assisted housing must give notice and opportunity for tenants to purchase, including via tenant associations partnering with non profit or private developers, to keep the buildings affordable. Forming a tenants association is a key step, so is reaching out to form a support network of elected officials and organizations. Top

Countervailing the condo conversion trend: niche rental marketers. And disapproval of the thesis that the only way to get property renewal and upgrade is through conversion. (The question is still there, "affordable to whom?", but the units are clearly affordable to many who are well off but not rich.)

In addition to the many retailers that cater to the student renter, and some who provide distinctive middle-income small apartments, are those who say they will not convert but will continue to offer higher end rental apartments. One is MAC Properties, associated with the same New Jersey firm (Antheus Capital) that recently bought the Algonquin Apartments, which now is declared to be staying rental. Another is Regents Park, whose new owners backed away from prospects of going condo (although they reportedly cut services and staff as well).

MAC Properties is buying the famed and landmarked Windermere House from Metroplex; there appears no likelihood of its going condo and will probably add a regional epilepsy and brain disorder imaging and treatment center in conjunction with the University of Chicago Hospitals.

Re the Algonquin, the Herald reported* (Daniel J. Yovich) October 4 2006 that:

The owners of the Algonquin Apartment buildings are continuing an extensive rehab and remodeling project begun by the previous owners and say they have no plans to convert the Mies van der Rohe-designed building to condominiums. "We are in the process of renovating the first two of the (six) building and intend to renovate all of the buildings in the next year or two," said Susie Charendoff, a spokeswoman for Algonquin Management LLC. "We anticipate completing the first units later this year and they will be available for rent. We have no intentions of converting the property to condominiums."

Erroneous speculation and rumor of an impending Algonquin condo conversion have recently made the rounds among Hyde Park real estate and financial circles. The property was purchased from the Habitat Company in February, which had publicly said in 2005 i had plans to convert the 414-unit, six-building complex to condos.

Some Algonquin tenants have been asked to relocate to other buildings as the renovation continues. ... A new fitness facility for the complex is also planned...

*according to a knowledgeable source contacted, not every detail is right, but the tenor is.) Top

 

In 2008 City Council passed an ordinance requiring metal rather than plywood coverings for vacant building windows and doors, better lighting esp. in back, and stepped up the fines substantially for failing to so secure.

Back and front must be lit dusk to dawn. Help is ask in identifying buildings to be registered. View is to make it more likely they will be fixed and occupied.

 

A bit of reality from the developers of 56th and Cornell (Antheus).

Asked [at the January 4th HPKCC board meeting] about prospects for “affordable” units, the developers said that the market makes it very difficult to build new structures containing affordable owner units, and new rental buildings are completely out of the question in Hyde Park or nearby (none having been built since 1969). The replacement cost for a $5 million-priced building is $15 million and assessments and taxes for similar buildings vary enormously. Programs designed to help, such as Section 8 and Class 9 have now gotten out of balance, so that only desperate landlords will use them---until they convert the building to condos, and those that have a good market for their units will turn down prospective occupiers under these programs who won’t or can’t pay market prices or rents no matter who goes to bat for them. Section 8 at present is not profitable to landlords and is tied up in inspections and other bureaucracy. (Class 9 subsidizes 20 percent (was 33%) for multiple-unit and $16% for single-occupant structures and involves tax breaks if the units are upgraded—but this is no longer profitable and is inappropriate for an owner building, the board was told. Landlords are phasing out of Class 9.) Top

Whoa--is this a Mac Management invasion? Mary Rose Shaughnessy writes Herald July 25 2007- goodbye affordability?

Whoa! What's going on in our Hyde Park? Have you noticed all the Mac Management signs around Hyde Park? Have you heard of Antheus Capital LLC? You should know that this corporation owns over 80 properties in Hyde Park, managed by Mac Management. Take a look at the website of their holdings in Hyde Park: [http://www.]macapartments.com/mac/a_ch_hp_overview.html.

Be sure to click on the Property List by Address link to see the specific buildings. Chances are you live in or nest door to one of his properties. I do.

Does this look like it's getting to be a monopoly? O, yes, now you remember. Isn't Antheus Capital the one who has big plans for the Village Center? And the Windermere? And isn't it the one planning to put up that tower next to Bret Harte School?

If Antheus Capital continues unchecked--it may end up owning more of Hyde Park than the University of Chicago.

What's wrong with this, you ask? Do we want one man, Eli Ungar of Englewood, New Jersey to have a monopoly in Hyde Park?

We wonder what plans has he got for us? Well, to begin with, he thinks we need more expensive condos. "There are very few options for people interested in a highly amenitized, well-located condo building in Hyde Park," he said about the new tower at 56th Street and Cornell Avenue. "There's been very little new construction of residential buildings in Hyde Park," he claims.

Apparently he missed the highly amenitized new residential developments that have gradually filled every inch of Hyde Park before he arrived in 2002.

Can higher real estate taxes be far behind? And judging from the steel and glass tower he plans for the parking lot next to Bret Harte, he has no idea of what architecture is appropriate to Hyde Park.

Ungar also does not seem to understand the character of the community. Hyde Park has never been a bedroom community of short termers who come for a few years to work and then move on. Yet that is what Hyde Park could become if the middle-income renters have to move out because they can't afford the new rents after he upgrades his rental properties, as he is dong with the Algonquin Apartments. "Stainless steel appliances, including a dishwasher, are surrounded by granite counter, granite backsplashes and white laminate cabinets. Translucent doors that match the hall closet enclose one pair of cabinet. White subway tiles line the kitchen's far wall, and dark beige ceramic tiles cover the floor," according to Janice Rosenberg in a "Special to the Tribune" March 18.

Stainless steel and granite counters will mean middle-class residents and seniors who are already paying almost half of their income to live in the Algonquin will have to leave. Doe he plan to "amenitize" all the 80+ buildings Antheus owns in Hyde Park?

Do we want upgraded buildings at the expense of our long term neighbors? Do we want Hyde Park to become Evanston-on-the-Midway? Do we want to drive out the middle class from Hyde Park? Do we want our real-estate taxes going through the roof?

Is Mr. Ungar interested in us, or is he only interested in the profit that can be made from hot properties for his corporation? Top

See rebuttals in the Antheus/MAC page.

Proposed Chicago Set Aside Ordinance (princ. area sp. Ald. Preckwinkle, 4th)

Applicability Substantial rehab, condo conversion, new to 10+ units
Set-Aside 15% on non-subsidized private development
Target Income Levels

Rental units: affordable to households at below 50% of Area Median Income ($37,500 for family of 4 in 2004)

Owner-Occupied units: affordable to households at or below 80% of the Area Median Income ($57,500 for family of 4 in 2004)

Control period 30 years
Cost Offsets

All permit fees will be waived on the affordable units, and a developer will receive two of the following cost-offsets, subject to the approval of the alderman:

  1. 1 for 1 density bonus
  2. Increase in maximum floor ratio
  3. Increase in maximum height of 25% in areas zoned R4 and above and corresponding commercial areas
  4. Reduction in the required minimum rear setback of 30% or 10 feet whichever is less
  5. Reduction in the required minimum front setback of 25%
  6. Reduction in the minimum off-street parking requirement to .333 parking spaces per affordable unit
  7. One accessory unit
In Lieu Alternatives
  1. Develop 1.5 times the number of required units offsite within the same or contiguous community area
  2. Rehab 2 times the number of required affordable units within the same or contiguous community area
  3. Pay a fee in lieu of the amount of $100,000 per affordable units ...deposited in Chicago Low Income Housing Trust Fund where for 3 yeas they will be allocated for units affordable to households at 30% of the AMI. Money must be expended within the same or contiguous community area of the development except for developments in the central district.
 Resale Requirements

Maximum resale price is lesser of:

  • Original price plus inflation adjustment of original price based on CPI for Chicago plus allowances for closing costs/sales commissions (seller receives limited equity); OR
  • Price affordable to an eligible household as published in Annual Report (seller receives limited equity)
  • Owner must provide 60 day notice to Department of intent to offer unit for resale
  • Owner must sell the affordable unit to a qualified household that meets the income criteria of the ordinance (80% of AMI)
  • Department determines resale price
  • Seller must provide Department with proposed sales contract, copy of buyer's Qualification Certificate, signed affidavit attesting to accuracy of all documents.
 Enforceability
  1. (General)
  2. Any owner of an affordable unity who does not occupy the unit as a primary residence must offer unit for resale; any lessee not occupying unit as a primary residence must vacate unit
Effective Date 6 months after passage
Non-Profit Housing Providers

Have 60 day option to begin purchase or rental of one-half of the owner-occupied affordable units

  • Department must provide advance notice of available units
  • Housing provider receives priority consideration in event of comparable offer from an individual
  • Housing provider may only lease or resell unit to eligible households

Note that the ordinance would apply to new construction, not just current.

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News from the Hyde Park Transitional Housing Project-

At University Church. Said to meet at Augustana Lutheran. Call Allan at 773 643-8061, hpthp@yahoo.com. THP website, http://iocillinois.org/hydepark/transitionalhousing/.
Director or president- in search mode.
Download brochure.
For more information visit the hydepark.org Ending Homelessness page and the Affordable Housing Information page. A quarterly brochure is available.
Helps families become self sustaining in mentored housing settings for up to two years. Volunteers needed and trained.

Spring 2010.

By Allan J. Lindrup in Herald March 17.

More than 170 members and friends of HPTHP enjoyed the Taste of Hyde Park by over 20 restaurants and music by Willie Pickens and Richard Glass at St. Thomas. With the silent auction, over $10,500 was raised. All were thanked in the article.

 

1: Spring 2006

2010-Board President Rev. Celeste A. Frazier. At and c/o University Church, 5655 S. University, Chicago, IL 60637. Currently meeting 3rd Mon. 7 pm at Augustana Lutheran. 312 458-9392. hpthp@yahoo.com. THP website, http://www.hpkifc.org/HydeParkTransitionalHousing.htm.
Director or president- in search mode?
Download brochure.
For more information visit the hydepark.org Ending Homelessness page and the Affordable Housing Information page. A quarterly brochure is available.
Helps families become self sustaining in mentored housing settings for up to two years. Volunteers needed and trained.

For more information visit the hydepark.org Ending Homelessness page and the Affordable Housing Information page. A quarterly brochure is available.
Helps families become self sustaining in mentored settings. Volunteers needed and trained.

Supported family: Debbie, head of household, is in electrician apprenticeship. Leaves program start of 2007 including assumption of lease. Her son will attend Morehead and has undertaken several projects.

THP holds a fundraiser in February and annual meeting with panel in May and sometimes to Springfield in February to support legislative housing initiatives and funding. Meets 2nd Tuesdays at?

Mentors are needed. Anne Holcomb at hpthp@yahoo.com.

Help Wanted:

Herald, December 24, 2008. By Kate Hawley

The Hyde Park Transitional Housing Project is seeking volunteer mentors to work with families who have been homeless. The organization provides apartment and a range of other services to homeless families for up to two years. Two families are currently housed under the program, according to Allan Lindrup, the group's treasurer.

Volunteer mentors are critical to the organization, Lindrup said. They generally work in groups of two or three, meeting each week with a family for up to two years (with up to six weeks off over the course of each year). The also might attend courses of each year.) They also might attend counseling sessions, support groups or other meetings. The commitment involves advising the families on employment, schooling, parenting, money and a range of other issues, with the goal of helping them become permanently house and financially independent.

While the mentors are not social service professionals, they are expected to link the families with professional help when necessary.

The Hyde Park Transitional Housing Project began its work five years ago, launched by the local chapter of Interfaith Open Communities, an affordable housing advocate. For the last three years, the organization has held the Taste of Hyde Park to raise money for its efforts.

About the Hyde Park Transitional Housing Project. Latest brochure

At University Church. At, c/o University Church, 5655 S. University 60637. Meets at Augustana Lutheran. Call Allan at 773 643-8061, hpthp@yahoo.com. THP website,
http://www.hpkifc.org/HydeParkTransitionalHousing.htm.
President Rev. Celeste Frazier.
Download brochure and quarterly newsletter.
Helps families become self sustaining in mentored housing settings for up to two years. Volunteers needed and trained.

For more information visit the hydepark.org Ending Homelessness page. A quarterly brochure is available.

Goals for 2009 include enough mentors to enable a 3rd apartment for families. Achieved in 2010 and serving 3 families.

The Hyde Park Transitional Housing Project (HPTHP, a 501 c3) provides housing and a stable, supportive environment for up to two years for homeless families who are working on improving or developing the skills necessary to live independently. HPTHP partners with local congregations and organizations which provide volunteer mentors and essential financial support. The strength of HPTHP is in the positive relationship which develops between mentors and the families they are supporting. HPTHP started as a project of the Hyde Park cluster of Interfaith Open Communities, an organization concerned with issues of affordable housing in the Chicago Metropolitan area.

The Mentoring Program. The mentor is the primary point of contact between HPTHP and the client family. Mentors meet weekly with the client family in the apartment provided to the client by HPTHP. Mentors usually work with the client in teams of 2 or 3 and may meet together or separately with the family. The mentor works with the family on goals that the family has set to become independent, including permanent housing, employment, education, parenting and child care, mental and physical health, credit an money management, and transportation. The mentor is a generalist, helping the family solve any problems that may impede their progress towards ending their homelessness. The family's goals are met on a gradual, incremental basis, through activities chosen by the client with the assistance of the mentor. The mentor is not expected to provide professional services, however, but may assist the family in finding professional services as needed.

Prospective mentors are required to attend a training session, arranged by the case manager. During training, mentors learn why families become homeless and become acquainted with HPTHP's mission, vision, history and organizational structure. Mentors wil be able to distinguish between the role of the lay-mentor versus the professional social worker. Trained mentors then participate in the selection process for the family with which they will work. Qualifications for mentors include maturity and a wealth of experience, including independent living and a career, excellent empathetic listening and personal coaching skills, ability to keep appointments, in particular, weekly sessions with the family for up to two years (with up to 6 weeks/year of "vacation"), ability to maintain a non-judgmental attitude toward the client., ability to work with other mentors, ability to maintain confidentiality in matters pertaining to the client family.

What is the client family expected to do in the HPTHP? To sign a Program Contract and to abide by the terms of this contract, which include: Meeting regularly with the designated mentors and the case manager to identify short and long term goals, and to plan how to work towards them. Actively and consistently working on achieving the set goals so that the client family can develop the skills needed to live independently. Working closely and cooperating with the mentors on budgeting and spending limits. Involving the client family's children (and/or significant other) in the program for the benefit of the entire family. Attending any scheduled counseling sessions, support groups, or other scheduled meetings, appointment or classes. Client families in the program participate in the decision-making process for determining their goals. All information and records are kept confidential, except when a written release is given.

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Questions about Homesharing based on flyer from LCBH. homesharing@lcbh.org, 773 627-8201.

What is it? A single home is shared between to or more unrelated individuals. HomeSharing partners have a private bedroom and share common household areas. Rent, services or a combination are exchanged.

Why? Some want help with housing expenses. Others seek companionship and security or assistance, whether health or aging related or during transitions such as divorce, unemployment, or education. A main motive is keeping one's home and independence.

Limitations. Compromising solitude and personal space. HomeSeekers may have to give up a pet or furniture. Likely to be temporary or term on both parts.

Screening. HomeSharing staff reviews and interviews. References are required and checked.

Matching. Staff seeks compatibility of needs and expectations. Meetings and negotiations are held. Decision is solely in the hands of the parties. The process may take some time. Staff will stay involved.

Taste of Hyde Park raises $, awareness. Hyde Park Herald Feb. 27, 2008. By Kate Hawley.

This year's Taste of Hyde Park showcased the fare of 23 local establishments, but the purpose of the event, held Saturday evening at the United Church of Hyde Park, 1448 E. 53rd St., went far beyond the gourmet pizzas and glasses of Chardonay.

Its proceeds supported the Hyde Park Transitional Housing Project, which sets homeless families up in apartments and pays their rent for two yeas. During that time, mentors help them find jobs, pay bills, make appointments and sent their kids to school

In support of that cause, a crowd of about 114 paid between $20 and $30 per person to sample food from Bar Louis, Cedars Mediterranean Kitchen and other restaurants. Willie Pickens, the noted jazz pianist who lives in Hyde Park, provided the entertainment, playing standards like Gershwin's "The Man I Love" ______________.

.......[material cut] two school aged children. The mother had been living in her car for two years while the kids stayed with relatives. [Anne] Holcomb described the children in that family as "intellectually gifted."

The third-annual Taste of Hyde Park raised a little more than $7,600, according to Allan Lindrup, treasurer of the organization. The first year, it raised $4,000, he said. The cost of supporting a family is between $12,000 an $15,000 per year, according to Mark Granfors, a board member.

The Hyde Park Transitional Housing Project is an all-volunteer organization that gets its funding primarily through individual donations. Board members appeal frequently to their churches and synagogues, whose member have often responded generously [Rev.] Coleman said. Top

University of Chicago Employee Assisted Housing program troubled or at least plateaued but mostly foreclosure free

Based on a Herald article July 16, 2008 by Sam Cholke:

The program provides an interest-free loan on down payment of $7,500 to employees that is forgiven after 5 years in return for certain commitments such as selling or continuing employment at the University. Application is down about 40%, due to normal plateauing (according to Metropolitan Planning Council) and the cooling housing market, and increasingly strict and difficult borrowing policies by "mortgageteers." (In June 67 applicants and 19 closings vs 77 and 24 in 2007.) MPO set up the program and the Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago provides counseling. While 75% have chosen to live in HP, Kenwood or Woodlawn, choosing one of the other 6 or 7 neighborhoods designated brings lower qualifications. Fewer than 10 have left the program since its start in May 2003, and there has been only one foreclosure, said to be of a person who did not follow the counselor's advice.

New Metropolitan Planning Council data quantifies benefits of employer-assisted housing
Analysis of Milwaukee hospital data shows EAH participants are long-term, high-performing employees; Milwaukee is one of ten cities around the U.S. that MPC is assisting with EAH strategies.

Visit REACH Illinois for further information on the many benefits of EAH >>

Basic housing statistics on Hyde Park and Kenwood

From Chicago Rehab Network. Hyde Park plus Kenwood total pop. 48,000+

These stats indicate for Hyde Park and Kenwood that:

Community Area 40, Hyde Park

Population 2000

Total 29,920, +4.5% from 1990
Foreign born 16.3%
Aver. Household Size 2.0

Race and Ethnicity (2000 and % change 1990-2000)

White 13,000 (c. 45%) -9.8
African American 11,290 (c. 41%) +5.4
Hispanic 1,230 +37.4
Asian-Pacific Islander 3,382 +39.0
Other (new category) 998

Income (2000 and change. Inflation adjusted)

Median Household Income $35,991 -3.0 (Chicago $38,625 +9.6, Area $67,900 +16.8. Modestly below median and about 55% of Area. Slightly below Kenwood)
Persons in Poverty 4,428 (c 10 or 11%) -9.0

Income Distribution as % of Area Median Income and change

Low (>80% AMI) 4,121 (c. 40%) +18.4%
Moderate (80-120% of AMI) 2,545 (c. 30%) +7.2%
High (over 120 AMI) 2,556 (c. 30%) -18.1%

Income Distribution as a % of Chicago Median income and change

Low 6, 121 +18.4%
Moderate 2,545 +7.2
High 5,707 -6.9

Housing Units

Total 15,227 -0.7
Owner Occupied 4,551 +17.3%
Renter Occupied 9,809 +0.2
Vacant 867 -40.0

Units per Building (changes not shown in statistics)

1 unit 1,552
2-9 units 3,683
10+ units 10,018

Housing Market

% built since 1990 2.7
Rental Vacancy Rate 4.8% (-5.8)
Median Gross Rent $675 (+2.5)
Median Home Value $271,020 (-7.4%)

City owned vacant- 2, Project Based Section 8 - 161

Affordability and Housing Stress

Cost burdened renters sp. >35% of income on hsg- 3,681 37.5% of sample
Extreme cost burdened renters sp >50%- 2,461- 25.1% of sample
Cost burdened Owner Occupants 225 17.7% of sample

Overcrowded Households 532 3.7%
Lead Exposed Children 7.7% of tested

 

Community Area 39, Kenwood

Population 2000 and percent change from 1990

Total 18,363 +1.0%, foreign born 8.7%, average household size 1.8

Race and Ethnicity

White 2,915 -18.2%
African American 13,900 +0.3%
Hispanic 301 +24.9%
Asian-Pacific Islander 792 +74.8
Other 455

Income (2000 and change. Inflation adjusted)

Median Household Income $36,612 +19.8%. Slightly below Chicago median, 60% of Area median, slightly above Hyde Park.
(Chicago and Area see above in Hyde Park)
Persons in Poverty 4,368 -8.3

Income distribution as % of Area Median Income

Low income <80% of CMI 5,844 +5.0%
Moderate 80-120% 1,621 +18.3
High >120 1,471 -13.6

Income distribution as % of Chicago Median Income

Low income 3,998 -1.2
Moderate 1,329 +6.3
High 3,609 +7.9

Housing Units 2000 and change 1990 to 2000

Total units 9,974 -1.5
Owner Occupied 2,617 -24.9
Renter Occupied 6,318 -4.6
Vacant 1,039 -26/1

Units per Building (changes not in statistics)

1 unit 2,296
2-9 units 1,453
10+ 7,316

Housing Market

% Housing Units Built Since 1990. 6/4%
Rental Vacancy Rate 6.3% -7.6%

Median Gross Rent $611 +12.9 inflation adjusted.
Median Home Value $297,354 +65% infl. adj.

City Owned Vacant Properties 93
Project Based Section 8 Units 750 (cf. 161 in Hyde Park)

Affordability and Housing Stress 2000 and as % of sample

Cost Burdened Renters (pay >35% of income toward housing) 2,283 34.5%
Extreme Cost Burdened Renters (>35%) 1,578 25.%0
Cost Burdened Owner Occupants (>35%) 193 24.6%

Overcrowded Households 512 5.7%
Lead Exposed Children. 12.6% of tested

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from Affordable Housing Conditions and Outlook in Chicago: An Early Warning for Intervention.

March 2006. By Nathalie P. Voorhees Center for Neighborhood and Community Improvement, College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs, University of Illinois at Chicago. Lead: Yittayih Zelalem. With Chicago Rehab Network, Housing Action Illinois, and Latinos United. [Note also: the proportion of income to housing steadily goes up--and twice as fast for renters as for owners.]

Executive Summary

The Chicago region as a whole experienced a significant increase in population between 1990 and 2000 and the trend continued at an accelerated rate through 2004 in most counties. Simultaneously, the poverty rate increased in all counties between 2000 and 2004. The poverty rate in Cook County is the highest in the region at 14.6% although higher increases were recorded in other counties between 2000 and 2004 with the increase in Will County the most table at 83%. The number of housing units added to the stock also increased in all counties since 1990 although the increase did not keep pace with the increase in population. In addition, the units added to the stock, in the most part, are not targeted to address the increasing needs of low-income people. As a result, the housing stress for low-income households, particularly those with the least income and with larger families, is becoming more and more acute, further exacerbating the housing cost burden and overcrowding.

In Chicago, the affordable housing stress is even more pronounced with increasing demand on the one hand and declining supply on the other. There is little production of of housing affordable to to very low-income households, particularly those that earn below 30% of Area Median Income (AMI). While federal resources targeting low-income populations have been steadily declining, the limited resources that are available continue to be diverted to support the development of mixed-income communities on former public housing sites. In addition to the very limited production of housing for very low-income households, the problem continues to worsen because of the loss of existing affordable housing stock due to expiring Section 8 and tax credit units, public housing demolition, conversion of affordable rental units to market rate condos, etc. As a result, homelessness is on the rise.

In the light of these conditions, the study entitled "Affordable Housing and Outlook in Chicago: An Early Warning for Intervention" was launched by the UIC Voorhees Center and its partners... in order to gain a more precise understanding of the mismatch between the demand and supply of housing in general, and affordable housing in particular. The project has two general goals: the first is to categorize all households by income group and size and match them with units appropriate to their size and income, and the second is to assess what the demand and supply mismatch may be by 2010 in light of current trends.

Public Use Microdata (PUMS) data was used to do a detailed analysis by household size with households grouped as small (1-3 person households) or large (4-8 person households). A typology categorizing areas of the city with similar characteristics into seven sub markets was also developed to allow for more understanding and insight into conditions and possible strategies for each sub market.

Major findings: this short report summarizes the components of the study (the full report is available on the Voorhees Center website); and the following is a brief synopsis of the major findings contained in the report.

  1. Out of a total of 1,046,729 households in Chicago, 307,185 or nearly 30% are housing cost burdened; the following highlight the magnitude of the housing cost burden borne by low-income households:

    a) Over 72% or 181,030 extremely low-income households earning below 30% of AMI are housing cost burdened.

    [Small households: Less than 1/3 are in units that fit household size and paying no more than 30% of income on housing. The rest] are forced to occupy housing that is beyond their means and end up paying more than 30% of their income. [Why? Shortage of 84,252 appropriate units and] another 47,844 units... are taken up by higher income groups competing for these scarce units.

    [Large households: 45,934 (76%) out of 60,422 households pay more than 30%. There are enough units, but they] are taken up by households in other income/size categories.

    b) ...78,345 or 51% of households earning 31-50% of AMI are also housing cost burdened.
    Over half of all households (both small and large) in this income range are housing cost burdened in spite of the fact that there are more housing units within the range of this income group because many of these housing units are taken up by other household categories.

  2. The reverse is the case for moderate and small) many of whom pay under 30% for housing). Although there is a shortage of units within the strict range of these income groups, all units in lower income categories are accessible to them as a result of which many in these income categories compete with lower income groups.

    a) Out of 229,510 moderate-income households at 81-120% of AMI over 40,000 or 17.4 spend less than 30% of their income for housing. ...(35,000) or 21% of small and 5,400 or 8.4% of la rage moderate-income households compete with lower income categories to secure their housing and end up paying less than 30%

    b) Out of 237,717 higher income households at over 120% of AMI, 139,956 or 59% spend less than 30% of their income on housing. (126,966) or 67% of am all and 12, 9090 or 26% of large higher income households ..compete with lower income households to secure their housing and pay less than 30%.

  3. Unbalanced development and population trends. [city center and north shore] are increasingly becoming home to small upper income households at expense of small and large low income families. Communities surrounding the center are likely to see similar [trends].... Periphery communities, on the other hand, are experiencing increases in low-income households who are forced to move out of gentrifying areas. Communities of the north and far southwest with traditionally high rates of home ownership are increasingly losing higher income households and gaining low-income households, despite having little rental housing stock or affordable single family homes. Additionally, communities of the far south and southwest have lost both moderate and higher income households and experience the second highest increase in low-income households. Because they have relatively higher affordable housing stock, these communities become the natural path of least resistance to households with limited housing options.
  4. Increasing overcrowding. [In all areas of the city--especially homeowning areas with Latinos moving in--up to 121% 1990-2000.]
  5. Outlook- Trends suggest that the housing stress for low-income households is likely to get worse:

    [Small low-income households rose while rental housing declined. Small households making over 80% AMI increased twice as fast as former and housing for them also declined. Units for large low-income went up a bit while numbers went up.]

    Overall, low-income households will continue to grow at a much faster rate than t he development of affordable and suitable housing. The projected shortage in rental options is a serious concern because few low-income households can afford to buy a house in the city. The gap between demand and supply of rental housing is likely to widen further with the potential loss of existing units because of expiring contracts, condo conversion, public housing transformation, etc.

The findings of this report demonstrate the current and projected mismatch between demand and supply of affordable and suitable ho suing for low-income households, particularly those earning below 30% of AMI...
....proactive steps may be taken to avert or mitigate an impending crisis that will affect not only those directly impacted but society as a whole.

[A racial/ethnic as well as income pattern noted is the reshuffling and reconcentration of groups, not a net increase in diverse communities over time.

What is the relationship of income, family size, and percent of Area Median Income? Shown in tables. Example at the low end:
0-30% of AMI is $14,250 for one person, $20,350 for family of 4, $26,900 for family of 8.

The study indicates the supply of affordable housing (as they define it) is declining a=nd the city's plan for affordable housing production has fallen far short of projections (especially for larger families) as well as need and has been skewed to higher income renters and especially buyers. There is insufficient focus on those most stressed.

What is the size of households in Chicago? (all have increased except 7-person) (approximate)

1 person 340,000, 2 person 275,000, 3 person 160,000, 4 person 130,000,
5 person 75,000, 6 person 45,000, 7 person 20,000, 8 person 15,000.

Where is "affordable" housing? Mainly in South and West side that have been long "soft" markets, i.e. poor quality stock. And what does the city look like if community clusters are lumped into 7 sub markets? Hyde Park and west to the Ryan are lumped into a grouping down to about the Stevenson that is called early to mid stage gentrification, Areas to the south including Woodlawn and South Shore are lumped into Gentrifcation Pressured. [Ed. caveat- the variation within each grouping is such as require great care in drawing local conclusions as well as in comparing the large sub markets--as with use of census tracts.]

Gentrifying. Heavily from the Loop to the northern boundary and northwest and west halfway to the border. Less further along in the Uptown-Edgewater strip, a band west of the Chicago River, and from the Stevenson through Hyde Park and west to the Ryan.

Gentrification pressured. Three clusterings- west half of the west side to mid northwest side, a section surrounding the Stevenson down to Garfield [5500 S.] almost to the western edge, and the neighborhoods south, south and southwest-southeast of Hyde Park.

Crowded. A wedge from Pilsen south[west?] to city edge, surrounded by Gentrifying on north and east and on the rest of both sides by Gentrification pressured.

Accessible. Almost all the rest of the far south and southwest side.

Mixed income and mixed tenure. Most of the far northwest side between Gentrification and Stable Homeowning as one nears O'Hare.

Stable homeowning. Southwest and northwest sections, not very deep.]

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Some more facts, from Metropolitan Planning Council December 2006:

Did you know..Illinois minimum wage is going up rom $6.50, but average entry level position in Cook County is 8.79 ($18,293 per year). But to afford a 2-bedroom apartment, a 40 hour household has to earn $17.98 an hour.
A majority of CHA residents still do not have jobs despite thousands of placements, and the average income of those who do is $15,000. 89% of those in moving-to-work still live under the 2002 poverty level.
Ability to afford a home is the basic indicator of self -sufficiency but many residents have to pay much more than 30% on housing. A family earning over $59,000-- isn't even eligible for federal assistance, and only a small percentage of those eligible get assistance; 30 percent of the ineligible are "severely" housing cost burdened (spending over half on housing). To be eligible for new or rehabbed homes in mixed income communities, CHA requires work at least 30 hours a week or be in training. Top

Neighborhood Housing Services/Neighborhood Lending Program gets $100 million commitment over 3 years from city, private lenders for new homes, home repairs for low and moderate income families

This program in 2003 consolidated 6 partnership programs of the city and private financial institutions. Between then and 2006, it a leveraged $90 million in loans from $32 lenders to assist 1,300 homes. One dollar leverages 9 from the private sector.

1800 882-0882.

Commissioner Ellen Sahli on Chicago's Plan to End Homelessness. November 5 2008 Streetwise. [Assuming the statistics are true, is it more than a drop in the bucket-- especially with the fast-rising tide, maybe oncoming tidal wave, from foreclosures and job loss while city revenues and those of nonprofits plummet?]

"Change" is quite the buzzword lately. Chicago's Plan to End Homelessness is no exception. We - the City and its private and public partners - have sought to change Chicago's homeless system from one that is based on temporary fixes to one that is based on long-term solutions. And guess what? We are doing it. And we will continue to move forward, pursuing our aggressive goals to increase resources and improve services despite the economy.

While we have made tremendous strides in directing new resources to prevention and permanent housing, we are not yet at our final goal. Before the Plan began in 2003, less than 3,000 households received homelessness prevention assistance. In each of the past six years we have more than doubled that assistance, to 7,100 households. Before the Plan we had 3,600 units of homeless-dedicated permanent housing. At the end of 2008 we will have over 6,000 units. We also documented a 12% decrease in homelessness between 2007 and 2007 - most notably with a 24% decrease in the number of homeless families.

We have been able to make these consistent strides because of the broad, diverse and committed community of partners working to achieve our goals here in Chicago. Hundreds of nonprofit agencies serving the homeless, multiple government agencies, and people who have accessed homeless services, work together daily to implement the changes required by the Plan to End Homelessness.

But we cannot do it alone. We need your help. Get involved - work with the board of a homeless service or housing agency; donate to organizations that offer services that support long-term solutions; volunteer to beautify a shelter; tutor homeless children to keep them on track; encourage your religious institution to coordinate with others to extend the impact of your effort; or volunteers to participate in the 2009 Homeless Count.

There are many ways to help and we all have a part to play. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to provide leadership on this effort for the City. I am confident that moving forward, we will achieve the change we seek.

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The City-managed Chicago Partnership for Affordable Neighborhoods (CPAN) is expanding programs for affordable condos; Community Land Trust

Formed in 2002, the program is moving ahead on making at least some affordable condos available in more market rate housing developments in more parts of the city. It's properties will mostly be in the Chicago Community Land Trust started in 2006. (Meant to encourage long-term affordability, there are restrictions on what these CLT properties can be resold for.) One to the north of here is Jazz on the Boulevard east of cottage Grove on Bowen. CPAN offers incentives that actually get up to 20 percent affordable units.

But of course there is the question of what's affordable and to whom, especially in light of the sub-prime meltdown.) How do you qualify? Household must earn less than 100% of Chicago median income. for singles that's $52,800, for 2 60,300 and on- if so, you can buy at reduced price. If you earn less than 80% ($41,700, $47,700...) you can receive assistance.

From the Tracking Community Trends II page: The state of and options for diversity and affordability in housing in HPK and surrounding areas.

Diversity, inclusiveness, including re: housing change. (See more in following section, and in Neighborhood Profiles.) Hyde Park is overall and locally more diverse and integrated than nearly every other community in the region and than it has been in at least a long time, if ever, according to the 2000 U.S. Census and widespread observation. There are fewer blocks that are exclusively, or even by large majority, the home of one racial, ethnic or income group. The the number of nationalities and ethic groups present in small or substantial numbers has been large for over a century but is now if anything even higher, with Spanish and Asians having increased to recognizable presence. Non-Spanish whites and blacks are in about equal numbers, neither being a majority but together about 90 percent. See a breakdown further in this section.

Substantial and perhaps increasing numbers of people from surrounding neighborhoods spend time and money in Hyde Park (and Hyde Parkers spend more, maybe increasing, time outside the neighborhood at cultural events (as well as shopping) than most other neighborhoods. Is Hyde Park homogenous? No. By race, ethnicity, and income, people tend to be clustered, but the clusters are more broken up and with lower percentages of whatever group predominates. Despite a considerable turnover (in addition to students), Hyde Park is popular and bursting at the seams--pressures are strong for increasing density and higher prices and rents, residential and commercial.

East Hyde Park and Kenwood are less distinct than they used to be. In some areas this appears to be partially a result of small and larger upscale developments such as Renaissance Place at the old Osteopathic Hospital. In that west Hyde Park sector, where both gentrification and influx from downsized CHA have occurred, the contrasts are especially sharp and increasingly so. (Some would also say that's so along 53rd Street). Sometimes the average-income small-scale changes have strange results: Kozminski School in west Hyde Park in 2003 lost significant funding because the average family income around the school, including the Renaissance project, rose above a low-income funding cutoff point, even though there has been no change in the composition of the student body (nearly all low-income). Kenwood Academy has also lost some funding from similar changes. As for more than fifty years, a wide variety of organizations and places work on these issues and to bring Hyde Parkers into conversation and inclusion (see Ending Homelessness/ open communities). Minority business/retail ownership and thematic offerings, including in arts and stores, have grown enormously in the past few years. See also an article showing how density can be an asset.

Hyde Park is 44% white and 38% African-American while Woodlawn is 94% A-A and 3% white. Only $19 million was spent in the 2003 in the much-vaunted housing "rebuilding" Woodlawn while figures in Hyde Park (boundaries not given in stats. by Dept. of Buildings) are given as $289-fourth highest of any neighborhood.

The Harper Court Chess controversy and the dispute over the continuing validity of the purpose of Harper Court to promote and subsidize small and artsy businesses also highlight other aspects of the diversity and inclusiveness issue. Fights over schools equity (i.e. Kozminski and Reavis vs Murray, Ray and Harte also show fissures in the community, especially between west versus central and east Hyde Park.

 

Affordability. See Ending Homelessness and Protecting Affordability, Neighborhood Development and Policy, Community Resources.

Affordability is an increasing worry, especially as a growing number of properties are being converted to condominiums (although it's hardly a stampede like the '70s and early '80s). Hard measures (that are more than just neighborhood-wide averages) should be sought. Several faith-based organizations including HP cluster of Interfaith Open Communities (HP Transitional Housing Project, Home Sharing), Older Women's League, and church/synagogue social justice committees, are working on the problem: from home and apartment sharing between empty nesters and persons of modest means to cooperative housing. They held a forum April 29, 2006 that is leading to a Task Force and perhaps vehicles to create affordable housing in the neighborhood. Chicago Rehab Network survey shows only 24 affordable rental units in the city--with rents about to shoot up here, realtors say. See analysis and breakout for Hyde Park and Kenwood in Affordable Housing Information. Also surf CRN, Metropolitan Planning Council, and Metropolis 2020.

These problems plague the whole South Side and city--especially as, at least until very recently, CHA has been emptying faster than refilling and a disturbing proportion of its ex-residents are homeless. Affordability also affects more well-off folks, as well as middle class owners on fixed incomes, as tax assessments soar (see Taxes) and fees rise and mandated building masonry, elevator, and other costs rise (see Sprinkler Retrofit), threatening viability of both rental and condo buildings and potentially driving people out of their homes and the neighborhood. Older housing is expensive to keep up, whether substantial mansions, bungalows and cottages, or buildings long since subdivided. Fortunately, transportation and parking and purchasing (with exceptions) costs are reasonable and housing stock generally sound although again aging in this neighborhood. (A coalition on the County Board seeks to put a stop on increases in assessments for owners of 10 years or more standing in areas with rapid growth in assessments.) On the other hand, a drop in housing prices would certainly have a devastating effect on the neighborhood, as it did in the 1930s and before and during Urban Renewal.

Much of the University of Chicago student upper classes (junior and senior) is in the private housing market, usually, but not always--some parents buy/invest in condos for their kids--, seeking affordable housing that creates niches for real estate managing firms (sometimes acting like slum lords) and also for homeowners seeking sharers. Their presence, as well as the University's sometimes taking market units for student and staff housing, does increase the pressure on availability and rents, but the University seems to be sensitive to avoiding imbalance. It will be interesting to see whether the university pulling out of such dorms as the Shoreland in favor of just south of the Midway and near-campus will have significant effects.

The University, 30 percent of whose staff lives in the area, has been providing, and now has a new program (EAHP) of, subsidies for members of the University and Hospitals, including forgivable loans, for those who buy and stay for a certain length with the institution and in new units in HPK, North Kenwood-Oakland, Washington Park, and Woodlawn. (http://uhrm.uchicago.edu/index.html and http://www.uchospitals.edu and Real Estate Operations, 5100 S. Dorchester.) For such programs to come into being, there must be 1) farsighted individuals such as King Harris, a trustee of the University and a board-program person in the Metropolitan Planning Council, 2) partnerships such as that between MPO and Housing Services of Chicago and the city, 3) a wide experience and perception that those in authority at the institution (such as President Randel and Community and Intergovernmental Affairs) will pick up and follow through on good ideas. It's notable that IIT is collaboratively embarking on the same program for Bronzeville developments. This is a trend to watch: employer-assisted mortgages. The catch is that you often have to sign an agreement not to quit your job or sell the mortgage during the next 5 years--This may be a great deal if you can live with the above, the neighborhood is ok and increasing in value and livability, and the employer agrees not to terminate except for just cause. The University has also partnered with Community Investment Corporation to buy viable rental buildings and keep them affordable under strict agreements in Woodlawn. For Hyde Park, the University so far seems to offer just advice (set up a Community Development Corporation to tap into funds for affordable units) and support for affordable set aside: President Zimmer in fall 2006 said the situation is being monitored by "does not yet warrant intervention". However, this there is information that this may change, re: close to the campus-- if such the University will be involved some way in these possible moves.

Some believe that, once urban renewal and vigorous code enforcement bought the neighborhood internal and temporal space, the abandonment and depopulation of the surrounding areas, providing the chance for rebuilding and repopulation with mixed income now, is what has saved Hyde Park and Kenwood as viable, multiracial communities, albeit returned to a less accessible condition for lower income families (more like th 1920s but without the restrictive covenants).

In the surrounding areas, our aldermen led the fight, with Ald. Tillman, for affordable housing set-asides for new developments. Their bill, with an oscillating but near or plus majority supporting, is near critical level of support- but strong mayoral opposition. A Daley administration bill that mainly codifies present rules and administrative directives and supporters of the alternative bill say has loopholes, was adopted however. Two projects to our north are advancing and receiving City Council funding (Madden-Wells/Lake Crescent and Jazz on the Boulevard.) They have affordable components, although the debate continues over the units' "affordability to whom", and it is evident that the quality of units in such developments is (how much?) lower on the inside. On the other side of the debate, groups of upscale relative newcomers (almost all of whom are African Americans), oppose almost any component of lower income people in "their" space. To the west of Kenwood, a number of larger buildings have been converted to affordable senior housing in an area that is becoming, by pockets, mixed income especially as infill townhouse building proceeds. A non-profit group will be rehabilitating CHA building(s) as mixed income in the Washington Park homes. New fears and varied views of the future have been raised by the proposal for a major Olympic venue in Washington Park in 2016.

Alderman Preckwinkle co-sponsored a resolution passed by City Council in 2003 asking increased federal help--actually a National Trust Fund--aiming at 1.5 million affordable units of housing in Chicago sitting families that spend more than 30 percent of income on housing (a whopping 41 percent in "affluent Illinois). The city has a cooperative housing, renter-to-buyer program. Call the ward offices to learn more. There have been largely attended seminars and rallies. Some state legislation was passed in 2004 through 2006 promoting affordability, assessment growth relief, and time for associations of subsidized housing structures to buy buildings when subsidy is dropped or times out. (Whether something will be done about expiration of large amounts of Project-Based Section 8 subsidies remains to be seen.)

Congressman Danny Davis has amassed an impressive coalition and funding for affordable first-time home ownership in targeted neighborhoods of the south and west sides, including Kenwood and Oakland, along with prospective homeowner training. Congressman Rush has a similar program. The zoning reform ordinance's parking requirements for developments and homeowners will also have a major impact on affordability as well as quality of life. (Requirements apparently stay the same at 1:1 but with area flexibility). See Zoning Reform home.)

Affordability of course requires lending options. There are lots more in the area than even in 1990, after the drought and aftermath from red-lining, restrictive banking laws and worse ended. And being added is a community-owned South Side institution, South Side Credit Union, the dream of Greg Brown, Cecilia Butler, Walter Freeman, and others, at 55th and Wentworth, with the idea spreading. Among the first task is to build its depositor base, including with Individual Development Accounts.

Much "affordable", well-designed, multi-family mixed-income housing is being built near employment and transit,with rent subsidy provided, under the Regional Housing Initiative under the umbrella of the Metropolitan Planning Council and the Illinois Housing Development Authority. Contact Robin Snyderman at 312 863-6007.

On another front, Senior Suites is a new alternative to assisted living and nursing homes. Learn more about efforts at affordability and to combat homelessness in Neighborhood Capital Budget Group website. There is one in west Oakland and another at 67th and Oglesby.

Things to watch: any increase in particular buildings that seem ripe for conversion or are on the slide (including the "0 Deposit" signs?), any upsurge in tear-downs and buildouts instead of rehabs, how the redevelopment goes in Oakland and Woodlawn (in Woodlawn especially there is very little "affordable" component in new housing and huge tracts of empty land are not being built on)--including these neighborhoods' ability to attract retail and services since elimination of retail zones on most of 47th and 63rd, any upsurges in section 8 housing or slum warehousing in the neighborhood and surroundings with any impacts this has.

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UC President Zimmer on whether there is a rental-options crisis in Hyde Park

From Herald interview, October 2006

Herald: What role, if any, will the university take in the Hyde Park housing market to counter the loss of rental units?
Zimmer: It is certainly important to us that there are students living near campus. For t he nature of a university community like this you want to ensure that there are opportunities to live close to campus. I wouldn't say right now that we view this housing situation as something that needs action. But we are constantly watching it.
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Dean of the College John Boyer says the University has to start on finding its own housing for up to 80% of the college students because condo-ization and other threats to affordability will create a squeeze and make it hard for the University to compete for students.

Interfaith vows to pressure developer for affordable housing. By Daniel J. Yovich. Hyde Park Herald, November 1, 2006. [slightly amplified]

The Hyde Park Cluster of Interfaith Open Communities will seeks the support of Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) in trying to force a developer to provide affordable housing units as part of his plan to build a new condominium complex west of Windermere House. At its October 27 meeting, the Interfaith group voted to meet with Hairston as soon as possible to enlist her help in forcing Englewood, N.J. -based Antheus Capital, LLC to provide approximately 20 new units of affordable housing in lieu of its plan to build a 25-story condo tower on the northwest corner of 56th Street and Cornell Avenue.

As alderman, Hairston holds significant clout over zoning matters affecting her ward. In 2001 [sic?] she put the kibosh on a proposal by the Vivekananda Vedanta Society's plans to build a mid-rise on the 5400 block of South Hyde Park Boulevard in th wake of neighbors' concerns that the project would add to the area's housing density.

Hairston said she regularly meets with the Interfaith group and wants to hear their thoughts on why they think Antheus should be forced to provide low-and moderate-income rental units if they are allowed to build the condo complex. "I think this is a conversation that needs to continue," Hairston said. "I understand the concerns here and realize we need to talk about how we can best achieve a solution that works best for the neighborhood."

One of the major housing problems in the Hyde Park section of Hairston's ward is the aging baby-boomer population that is steadily being priced-out of affordable housing, Hairston said. That trend is likely to continue. Despite a slump in condo sales and conversions in many part of the city, Hyde Park condos continue to command top dollar and local property owners converting apartment to condos have so far been undeterred by talk of a bursting housing bubble, said Patricia Wilcoxen, Interfaith's program director.

Through more than a dozen limited liability corporations, Antheus has become a major player in the Hyde Park housing market. Since 2001, Antheus has bought 20 different properties totaling 2,000 rental units, or about 17 percent of the Hyde Park-kenwood area's total rental units. Antheus' long-term investment strategy includes extensive rehabilitation and remodeling of its properties, recouping some of these costs through increased rents.

"Antheus is very responsible property owner," said Lawrence Bloom, a former 5th Ward alderman and real estate broker who has been involved in at least on Antheus property deal. "They invest in their properties. I don't think any alderman has gotten a complaint from an Antheus tenant regarding upkeep or maintenance."

But the increased rents Antheus charges after rehab projects further erodes the area's stock of affordable housing and helps contribute to rent increases across the Hyde Park area, Wilcoxen said. "We realize our limitations and that there is little we can do on our own to force the developer to do the right thing here, to set aside some affordable housing," Wilcoxen said. "But we can encourage him to embrace some possible solutions, and meeting with the alderman will be our first step."

In an interview with Herald reporters before the Oct. 23 public meeting, Antheus President Eli Ungar said he was sympathetic to neighborhood concerns about the dwindling stock of affordable housing. Ungar noted the continued conversions of Hyde Park apartment units into condominiums benefits Antheus, which, through MAC Properties LLC now controls about one in every six apartments in the community. "I also realize that the condo conversion trend is not helpful to the community," Ungar said.

Ungar said he also understands the problems faced by some longtime residents who have seen their housing costs increase over the past several years, and acknowledged that low- and moderate-priced housing in the area is becoming scarce. But penalizing developers for the ongoing gentrification of an area is not a solution to the problem, Ungar said, noting that the problem exists not only in Hyde Park but in many other areas across the country.

"I think this is a national issue and that it is unfair to place the burden of a solution solely on a builder," Ungar said. "If we're really going to get serious about this problem, then it's going to require a solution that involves input at the local, state and national levels."

A Tale of two wards

The Hyde Park Interfaith group is composed of most of the area's churches and synagogues, its mission to help residents become informed and active in addressing the problems and seeking solutions to the area's lack of affordable housing. The group has long

supported 4th Ward Ald. Toni Preckwinkle's proposed affordable housing ordinance which would require developers of new and rehabilitated housing to set aside 15 percent of their units for low- and moderate-income buyers. That bill has languished for two years in the City Council's housing committee.

Preckwinkle said she has been pro-active in trying to retain what affordable housing remains in her district, requiring builders in the ward to adhere to the requirements in her proposed bill. "The truth is, we've tried to implement the ordinance, especially as it applies to public-owned land that is sold to private developers," Preckwinkle said, noting Oakwood Shores, Jazz on the Boulevard an Lake Park Crescent among the new development projects where she has won set-aside concessions from builders.

The lack of affordable housing is much more pronounced in Preckwinkle's ward than in Hairston's, Bloom said. In February, the Chicago Tribune Sunday magazine noted areas of Preckwinkle's ward are among the most rapidly gentrifying in the city, citing a real estate boom not only in Kenwood but also in Oakland. "You can't fairly compare the two wards, it's apples to oranges comparison," Bloom said, noting the relative affluence of the northern part of Hairston's ward when compare to the South Shoe and Woodlawn areas of her district.

Hairston said one of her immediate concerns is the high concentration of low-income housing in the southern section of her ward, and said she is taking a "block-by-block" approach in analyzing what new projects might mesh well with a neighborhood's character.

"You can't concentrate low-income housing in very narrow areas," Hairston said. "We have to take a balanced approach to the issue. I don't think the solution is for all of it (the ward's affordable housing) to fall on one side of our ward." Top

Olympic impacts pondered by DePaul professors, suggest rehabbed housing instead of Village

Professor says Split up Olympic Village for affordable, tells why won't spur growth

[July 2008: News: the draft city call on proposed Olympic Village (dr. Ald. Preckwinkle) calls for 20 percent affordable, with some advocates call insufficient in light of expected impact on housing prices and costs on the South Side.]

Herald, March 5, 2008. By Kate Hawley

If Chicago hosts the 2016 Olympics, the city should reachable old buildings in city neighborhoods to house the athletes, a DePaul University professor told visitors to the University of Chicago last week. That would help ensure that the games leave a legacy of affordable housing and neighborhood development, according to Larry Bennett, a professor of political science at DePaul, who spoke at the University of Chicago (U. of C.) on Feb. 25.

Bennett gave one of a series of talks for U. of C.'s Displacement Week, which examined various ways that economic developments can uproot and dislocate people in its path. ...Bennett is working on a report about how Chicago's Olympic plans square up against other cites that have hosted the games. The report, which he's writing with two DePaul colleagues, will be released by June of this year, Bennett said.

His idea for housing Olympic athletes runs counter to the city's proposal to build an Olympic Village over a truck yard just south of McCormick Place. Mayor Richard M. Daley has said the Olympic Village will go forward whether or not Chicago gets the games. Bennett advocated rehabbing old and abandoned properties for Olympic athletes, then dedicating those buildings to affordable housing when the games are finished. That in turn might spur neighborhood development in some of the city's forgotten outposts, he argued.

Overall, the games aren't likely to spur significant economic growth in the city, he said, pointing to research on the 2000 Sydney Olympics by John R. Madden. an economist at the University of Tasmania.

And Bennett raised questions about the community benefit of the Olympic Stadium proposed for Washington Park. Part of that would be dismantled after the games, leaving an amphitheater for permanent park use. This may spur growth, but it also may prove detrimental to the locals, he said, asking, "What's the long term impact of taking his space out of public commission?" Top


Displacement on center stage during March 2008 week at UC, also likely success of Grove Parc.

Herald, March 5, 12008. By Sam Cholke

About a dozen people congregated in Harper Library, 1116 E. 59th St., last Thursday for one of the last forums of the University of Chicago's Displacement week, a series of lectures examining the effects of development on neighborhoods generally and in HydePark and its neighbors in particular.

Wallace Goode, associate dean of students and director of the University Community Service Center, moderated a discussion of the university's positive and negative roles in economic development in the Hyde Park, Kenwood and Woodlawn communities with panelists Susan Campbell of the University of Chicago Office of Community Affairs, Bryan Echols of Metropolitan Area Group for Uniting Civilizations and Mattie butler of the Woodlawn East community and Neighbors.

The panel found itself drawn repeatedly to the southern boundaries of the campus and what all referred to as an "invisible wall" at 61st street that divided the university from Woodlawn. Campbell said in the 1950s, when the university was pursuing Urban Renewal, administrators agreed not to build past 61st." "I think that is a negative," Campbell said. "The most successful campuses are those where you can't define a seam."

Echols said that seam still exists more than 50 years after Urban Renewal. Echols said he works with students who walk by the new residence hall south of 61st Street and tell him they are not going to go across 61st.

The other"seams" of the university are 57th Street and to some extent 53d Street, the panelists agreed. Echols said those were the main streets of HydePark when he was an undergraduate student. "53rd Street wasn't the greatest," Echols said. "There was a lot of disparity between the two that is beginning to change no, he said. It was like night and day, you would see mostly students and whites on 56th Street and mostly Backs on 3d street, Echols said. "When the TIFs began, it brought business," Echols said walking down the street in the years after the tax increment finance districts started, you bean to see 53rd street change: more landscaping, better maintenance of buildings, facades and more people on the street, he said.

"I look at the success of North Kenwood and Oakwood," CAmpbell said, "which to some people may not be a positive." The neighborhoods north of the campus are in a position now where there is a growing community that will attract new businesses to meet their needs, she said.

It's happening in Woodlawn, too, but at a slower pace, Campbell said. "Woodlawn was in a push and pull internally," Butler said. Butler described the split in the community over how much new housing should be affordable and how much should be upscale. "The market has taken over," Butler said, though she said she is still waiting for benefits to appear. "I'm a little stuck in the mud," Butler said. "The positives haven's shown up yet; for me, all I've seen so far is displacement of the population."

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Food availability matters to- 61st Farmer's Market should help

61st Dorchester Farmers Market open on Saturdays, helps relieve food desert

Open May-October, it brings fresh produce to the neighborhood, in different ways and with all options for payment including LINK. Connie Spreen is director of sponsoring Experimental Station and Aaron Schorsch recruits farmer and produce. They seek producers of midwestern organic and sustainable commodities- including meat, produce , cheese, baked goods, flowers and soaps. Woodlawn is one of 23 Chicago food deserts identified in a Mari Gallagher Research and LaSalle Bank study. Food is in short supply and balanced toward the unhealthy in the deserts (incl. prices disproportionately high for nutritious foods- as everywhere but espec. in the deserts leading to consumption of mainly fast foods). The Market also offers cooing and nutrition clauses. 9-2 on Saturdays.

Chicago Rehab Network outlines how best to intervene at various stages along foreclosure timeline. It says that creating intervention strategies for the late stages will be critical for a strong Chicago.

Before delinquency: (in time order)

During mortgage delinquency

After foreclosure

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A Chicago Metro Community Development Corporation Census is underway in summer 2008. It will provide information for self-assessment and reorientation among other purposes. Contact rachel@chicagorehab.org

U of C book finds "The New Urban Renewal" in Bronzeville, Harlem- changing face of gentrification, displacement

Hyde Park Herald September 17, 2008. By Sam Cholke

A subtle shift in how gentrification operates is taking place in urban neighborhoods like Bronzeville and Harlem, which places the cause of displacement at the feet of economic class differences instead of racial differences, according to Derek Hyra in his new book.

"The political power and preferences of the Black middle class has increased, and these individuals are aligning themselves more and more with the urban growth machine than with lower-income members of their race," he says in the introduction of his new book, "The New Urban Renewal," published by the University of Chicago Press.

Hyra uses Bronzeville and Harlem to illustrate the huge impact local politics play on the redevelopment of neighborhoods close to the central business district of cities that are major players in the global economy. Hyra describes in his book how the centralized, one-party government in Chicago headed by Mayor Richard M. Daley has left community groups and residents with less of a say in how their neighborhood is changing than residents in the decentralized, two-party system in New York.

The lack of a two-party system in Chicago is what is silencing many voices that would speak out against negative growth sponsored by the city, Hyra said. "If there's only one channel, you can't speak up against that one channel," Hyra said in a phone interview Sept. 12. "To bring about reform, you need another political party."

There are not necessarily stronger organizations in New York," Hyra said. "It's that people aren't afraid to speak up under threat of losing their money." Hyra said the the recent downturn in the economy hat has slowed development in Bronzeville is a temporary situation. "There will always be a pro-growth movement. The key is to have lower income residents benefit from that," Hyra said.

Harlem has invested in repairing its public housing stock, which has prevented some displacement -- though it has done little to help low-income residents and business owners in the private market, who are being forced to leave Harlem as rents rise, Hyra says in his book.

"The decision to knock down distressed public housing stock [in Chicago] I think was a good move," Hyra added during the interview. "It didn't make sense to revitalize." Chicago needs to make a major reinvestment in affordable housing because the private market cannot handle the massive numbers of people moving out of buildings that are being demolished, he said. "The public housing demolition in Chicago has relocated neighborhood poverty, not alleviated it," Hyra says in the book.

Depending on how the election turns out, Bronzeville could see an influx of federal dollars to assist in building and maintaining affordable housing, Hyra said in an interview. The important thing is how that federal money is distributed, and in Chicago's political system, Daley decides where that money goes, he said.

The challenges that both Harlem and Bronzeville will continue to face is how to prevent the displacement of low-income residents and business owners being forced out of their neighborhoods by rising rents and property values and who receive little benefit from a reinvestment in public housing.

Phasing in property tax increases and removing centralized power over how federal money is distributed could lessen the pressures that cause displacement, Hyra says in his book. But Chicago won't see effective reform in how federal money is used until has a two-party political system, Hyra said.

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Affordable for whom? Nice projects that could help a few....

L3's Cornell-53rd proposed building has a 15 % affordable component and is rental, but even those will be hard for many to meet even if they can qualify.

The Strand Artists Lofts condos proposed for a historic (including for jazz) but abandoned 5 story hotel at 63rd and Cottage Grove both qualifies for restoration credits (including 8 year no property taxes if gets landmarking and anti-flip rules) and for affordable discounts for all units. But are they really affordable for any but a small niche? Those meeting qualifications as artists and reliable will be selected. These will still have to qualify for bank loan. Members of an audience June 17 pointed out to city officials flaws in the rules and breaks.

July 12 at 10, July 20 at 2, July 26 at noon. The Strand proposed artist live and work condos are explained at Grand Ballroom, 6351 S. Cottage Grove. www.thestrandartistslofts.com.

Here is the deal. All 9 units will sell for $208,000- $195,000 after automatic subsidy. According to income, buyers qualify for additional reductions of 10, 30, 0r 40,000 (thresholded at 52,800 income, 42,200 and 31,680.


From the trenches in Hyde Park: Affordability, historic and returning (?) 'condomania', bad buildings and their landlords

See also the article immediately preceding.

Nitty-gritty facing owners and renters alike, what CECD suggests-

Our community is facing a crisis that is affecting both homeowners and renters. The federal stimulus will help, but the state needs $100 million capital investment in affordable housing to fully leverage these resources.

The Coalition for Equitable Community Development held a community forum on Saturday, Feb. 28 about the impact of the federal stimulus and the state budget on affordable housing in the Hyde Park-Kenwood community. Bob Palmer, policy director for Housing Action Illinois, was the guest speaker. Housing Action Illinois is a statewide public policy and advocacy organization that promotes affordable housing.

The Coalition for Equitable Community Development is composed of residents, civic organizations and religious congregations that are concerned about preserving the economic diversity and affordability of our community. Vice President John Murphy issued a call for all residents who are concerned about these issues to join the coalition.

Bob Palmer discussed how the housing crisis affects Hyde Park and what is being done to address the problem. While much of the media attention has been on homeowners losing their property through foreclosure, Palmer pointed out that renters are also at risk. When a landlord defaults on his or her mortgage, the bank in the foreclosure sale has the power to evict all of the tenants - even if they have leases and are current on their rent payments. His organization finds that this is frequently the case. Bankers often do not have the capacity or willingness to manage the apartments and prefer the building to be vacant for resale. The majority of residents in Hyde Park are renters.

More money is coming from the federal government for affordable housing and homeowners. Unfortunately, the state's financial problems may prevent us from taking full advantage of that help. The two largest sources of state money for affordable housing are the Affordable Housing Trust Fund and the Rental Support Program, and both of these state funds have seen a dramatic drop in revenues. The solution, according to Palmer, is a new state capital program that includes affordable housing along with other infrastructure investments. His organization is calling for the state to invest $100 million dollars per year over a five year period in affordable housing.

To find more information or to find out how to get involved, go to the coalition website at hpkcoalition.org.

In spring 2008 Harper Square Cooperative was again in the news due to dispute with a tenant. In this case a family lost its court appeal against eviction for apparently for inter alia hurling abusive language against the board and involvement in an in house newspaper against the board. They allege discrimination against them as Muslims. Board members allege a long history of problems with this family.

Condomania nothing new to Hyde Park. (It since died, but in a few years could come back.)

Hyde Park Herald August 16, 2006. by Phil Jacobson

Walk around a Hyde Park block or two, and there's a fair chance one will pass a condo converted from an apartment over the last six years. During that time, many in the neighborhood have been converted. The trend is nothing new.

After state legislation passed in 1963 allowing condo construction in Chicago, the market began to take off in the late 1960s, reaching a high in the 1970s.

In a front page article in its May 24, 1978 edition, entitled "Housing Boom in Community," the Herald reported: "The continued scarcity of housing become more apparent as the newest as the newest [condos] are snapped up at frightening speed ...units are being occupied as fast as the developer can put them up or, in some cases, before they are up."

Back then, Chicago was unquestionably a seller's market. The condo market was so lucrative that the phenomenon had been dubbed "condomania."

With housing costs rising almost twice as fast as rent during the 1070s, according to the 1973-77 Consumer Price Index, landlord profits were on the decline. For them, converting to condos or selling to developers became a profitable solution. In Hyde Park, smaller residences and large apartment building with hundreds of units were converted, forcing out residents who could not afford to buy.

In its July 19, 1978 issue, the herald reported that about 17,000 units, over 75 percent of Hyde Park housing, was still rental; at the sam time the Chicago Sun-Times reported that 70 percent had been converted to condos.

For many Hyde Parkers, misinformation fueled panic, and the 1980 census would later prove the Herald correct. It reported then tat 25.5 percent of Hyde Parkers lived in owner-occupied housing units. Although that figure increased from 15.2 percent ten years earlier, it was nowhere near what some perceived it to be.

Whatever the numbers, renters in large buildings at 1400 E. 55th and 4800 S. Lake Shore dr., later renamed "University Gardens" and "the Newport," respectively--the largest Hyde Park conversions yet [the 1700 E. 56th building would later be the largest at least to 2006]--were among those who fought developers' plans. They were unsuccessful.

The condos kept coming until skyrocketing interest rates in the early 1980s, at on e point reaching 18 percent, slowed the market considerably. Units that had paid big dividends were now sold at huge losses, at time nearing 50 percent.

Several hears ago, the nation went through another housing boom and condos once again returned to prominence. In other parts of the city, namely downtown, developers have been mostly constructing new buildings. Hyde Park has still seen mostly conversions.

As was the case during "Condomania," tenants in converted buildings are often priced out, forced to leave their homes and often the community. "They usually try to stay within the community because that's where their support base is, where their friends and relatives are," said Pat Wilcoxen, program director of Interfaith Open Communities. "But it has been very difficult because of the loss of affordable housing. It can be really detrimental to the community."

Preventing their homes from becoming condos was, and still is, very difficult, Wilcoxen said. The best tenants can usually hope for is to buy their buildings and form a co-op, but this is difficult because of cost, time constraints and organization problems.

While they can force people to leave their homes, condos have positive effects as well, according to Winston Kennedy, a [former owner and now] broker associate at Kennedy, Ryan, Monigal& Associates. "It is a much more stable market in Hyde Park," Kennedy said. "There is a downside, but the upside is [favorable?]. Properties get improved and the quality of the housing stock increases measurably by virtue of condo conversions."

"People with marginal income are priced out of the neighborhood," he added. "We don't have many programs in the city to create affordable housing."

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From the Trenches, continued

"This place is not safe:" Allegedly neglected for months, apartment dwellers on Drexel Blvd. demand landlord corrects building's problems [as condo conversion sweeps section dominated by allegedly poor landlords and population turnover occurs.

[Note that this is in the section of west Hyde Park troubled by gangs, muggings, ex-CHA influx.]

Hyde Park Herald, August 16, 2006, By Erin Meyer.

Tenants about to be evicted from 5235-46 S. Drexel Blvd. were scheduled to meet on Aug. 14 with Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th) to address their problems with the apartment building and its owner, Michael Iorga. They are accusing Iorga of violating their rights as tenants and refusing to correct the building's faulty wiring and leaks.

At Herald presstime, the meeting was expected to occur in the alderman's office and Iorga, who has ordered the tenants out of their apartments by the next day, was invited to attend.

The Herald met with a handful of residents last week. Trehn Hazelwood complained that his bathroom ceiling fell into his tub two months ago. "It has been this way since June," he said, pointing to the gaping hole over his head. "The doorbell has shorted out," said his neighbor, Theresia White. "It shocks you when you touch it."She also said a leak has sprung within the light fixture in her hallway. "This place is not safe," she said.

The city's Buildings Department cites various code violations on the 24-unit co molex."We received complaints of insufficient heat in 2005 and 2006," said Peter Scales, Buildings Department spokesman. "It sounds like people were using their ovens to heat their apartments."

Iorga told the Herald last week that he bought the building six months ago and agreed it is in bad shape. "I wont to rehab the building and make it better," he said. "The building is run down. It needs new plumbing among other things." He said he needs the tenants out of the building in order to address it problems. He gave them a 30-day notice last month, which the tenants [section deleted].

David West said he has a right to remain in his apartment until his lease expires. He has lived with his family in the building since 1979. "My lease doesn't expire until October," he said. "The eviction shouldn't be legal, neither should the condition of may apartment." Said White, "We are angry that we have been given so little time to find some place else to live after so many months of negligence."

None of the tenants are being invited to return. Having not been told why they needed to vacate their apartments, tenants assumed Iorga was converting the building into condominiums. "It makes sense because this is condo season," said Malik Wornum of the Metropolitan Tenants Organization (MTO), which has been hearing the tenants' concerns and advising them of their rights. "These developers are in such a hurry to make a buck that they often stop providing services to current lease holders."

Iorga, who owns 14 other rental buildings across the city, insisted that he does not plan to go condo. "I like rentals," he said. "I don't like condo conversions."

But the tenants see what is happening on their own block and remain skeptical. Construction workers and building permits have become a part of the landscape between the 5100 and 5300 blocks of South Drexel Blvd., neighbors said.

Workers are in the process of gutting the building at 5135-37 S. Drexel Blvd., for condos expected to go on the market sometime next year. A little further south, Drexel Properties just put 20 two- and three-bedroom restored vintage condominiums ranging in price from $194,000 to $350,000 at 5219-27 S. Drexel Blvd. on the market this week. A Caldwell Banker development at 5211-15 S. Drexel Blvd. recently underwent conversion. The new condo owners in that development do not appear satisfied with their purchase. Signs posted in the. window reading "Where is the exercise room?" and "The roof leaks!" warn prospective buyers to think twice.

Right across the street from Hazelwood's building, another group of renters at 5222-38 S. Drexel Blvd. have begun to organize. "We know our building, like so many others on this street, is going to go condo. We want to be treated with respect in the meantime," said Elizabeth Todd, who has filed numerous complaints with the city. The 24-year-old University of Chicago graduate student has lived in the South end of the 63-unit complex for almost a year. She too contacted MTO when communication between tenants and landlords broke down.

Wornum has encouraged the two groups to work together. "There is power in numbers. Tenants need to organize and pressure developers and local officials to preserve rental housing," he said. "And the city needs to enforce the building code."

According to Buildings Department records, inspectors visited 5222 S. Drexel Blvd. in July 2005 and found extensive code violations pertaining to to building's dangerously dilapidated porch system. "There was a lot of rotting wood, [and] sections were not properly anchored. They needed to address some tuck pointing issues and a leaking skylight," said Scales.

In June 2006 inspectors returned and found only a few of the more minor code violations had been addressed. They returned again Aug. 3 in response to complaints regarding problems with electrical wiring. Some apartment dwellers, including Todd, are paying a reduced rent as a result.

John Dehelean, owner of the building at 5222-38 S. Drexel Blvd., said he has no choice but to go condo. "The amount of rent I am collecting is way less than the money I have to pay for the mortgage and taxes," he said. "If I would not convert I would be out of business." Dehelean met with tenants in early August but negotiations failed. "On other points they were asking was for six months free rent," he said. "That's not reasonable." Dehelean and some of the tenants are scheduled to appear in court in the coming months.

As for Hazelwood and his neighbors, they hope to convince Iorgo to extend their leases and clean up the building in the meantime. Iorgo agreed to have someone meet with them and the alderman on his behalf.

____________

The meeting of the 5335-45 tenants with owner Michael Iorga did not take place, but Alderman Preckwinkle is reported as telling the tenants to call 911 if someone tries to evict them and that she is formally telling the landlord she is unhappy with the way tenants are being treated and asking the Building Department to look into code violations, adding she cannot prevent a building going condo, but can insist tenants be treated with respect.

Mr. Iorga says he can fix nothing with the tenants in place. He says he is no landlord, does not intend to convert to condos, has not mistreated and says he will let them stay free until they find something else.

Tenants (Mr. West) say they cannot find anything they can afford in Hyde Park.

Theresa White wrote in the Herald about the alleged mess being made by the owner of 5222-38 S. Drexel, which is being gutted for condos while many tenants are still there.

Jeffrey Weinberg, owner/developer of 5219-27 S. Drexel, writes Herald that all landlords are not evil. He notes ways he addressed needs of tenants during conversion and treated them with respect. In turn, many of them chose to relocate to one of his other buildings. Also, he tries to create a good condo product for his buyers.

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Grad students struggle for housing, stressing the neighborhood. Many of both caught between conversion/upgrades and poor conditions

Herald, September 20, 2006. By Erin Meyer

University of Chicago graduate student Elizabeth Todd is facing eviction from her apartment, 522-39 S. Drexel Ave.,.... "We have been here only a year but we have to move again. Everything is going condo," said Todd. The 24-year-old Ph.D. student's lease expired at the end of October.

Developers in Hyde Park are turning to condominium conversions to maximize profit. U. of C. students are part of a larger contingent of Hyde Park residents struggling to find affordable housing in a dwindling rental market.

Todd has lived in a two-bedroom apartment in the 63-unit building since last November. "There is not that much available. We looked for a long time," she said. "But we finally found our place through a friend of mine and were so happy with it." Like many students Todd... moved from out-of-state to attend the U. of C. She lived in graduate student housing for one year before moving off campus with her boyfriend.

"I had no choice but to move of campus because the university does not allow non-students to live in student housing," she said. "Almost every building on our street has gone condo." One of Hyde Park's most attractive characteristics, according to Todd, is the socioeconomic and racial diversity. She said many of her neighbors, most of whom are African American, are being priced out of the community. "I love Hyde Park but you can see the way the neighborhood is changing," she said.

Todd cannot afford to buy. She fits into part of the demographic that typically characterizes renter populations in most communities.

Just like all the other students living off campus, Todd is placing additional pressure in an already limited rental market.

The student demand is substantial given the number of units the university sets aside for graduate housing--approximately 1,300 --compared with the number of graduate division and professional school students approximately 9,000. Almost all undergraduates live in student housing.

Todd is calling on local lawmakers to place a cap on the number of condo conversions and preserve affordable rental housing. She will join her neighbors and advocates from across the city in a peaceful demonstration in the coming weeks.

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Tenants to march Sept. 30 against condos, for preserving affordable rental housing, for enforcement of landlord obligations.

Hyde Park Herald, September 27, 2006. By Erin Meyer

Hyde Park renters being displaced from their apartments at 5222-38 s. drexel Blvd. plan to march Sept. 30 to call for a moratorium on he condominium conversations sweeping through their neighborhood.

Some of the tenants also filed a class action lawsuit this month against owner John Dehelean for lease violations. Dehelean purchased the property in March 2006. The tenants are seeking monetary damages and additional time to move.

"The city needs to freeze condo conversions where they are taking all the available rental housing," said housing advocate Malik Wornum from Metropolitan Tenants Organization.

One of the tenants, Brian Lockhart, said he will not be a Hyde Parker for much longer. "It is really sad. I love this neighborhood," he said. Lockhart has until Nov. 12 to vacate his apartment at 5432 S. Drexel Blvd. "I am afraid to move in to another apartment in Hyde Park. I am afraid I will just get caught up in anther conversion," he said. Lockhart event opted out of living in the city. He is looking for an apartment in Hammond, Ind.

Lockhart first proposed the idea of a march during a rent tenant meeting. Wornum and the tenants are calling for a study to determine the [e]ffects of condo conversions on the rental markets. "The question is, are there units available for the people being displaced to move into?" The 63-unit rental building is one of many along Drexel to go condo in recent years.

The tenants will march alongside neighbors from 5135-37 S. Drexel Blvd. who were forced to move out of their building last month and housing organizers from the Metropolitan Tenants Organization. They will be joined by renters from Bronzeville, where condo conversions are eating up subsidized rental housing at a an alarming rate.

Wornum said the tenants' plans for the march started as a small-scale demonstration by a handful of neighbors by has since mushroomed. "When I brought the idea back to my office it snowballed. We are going to have a lot of participation." he said. "This is not an isolated problem. Until something comprehensive is done, people are going to continue to be forced out of their neighborhoods." I know I am not the only one affected," Lockhart said. "The same is happening to people all around here."

In fact, condos have dominated construction in the Loop for the past 20 years. "This condomania started on the North Side, but the South Side is really feeling the pinch now," Wornum said. "When is it enough?"

The group will gather at 11.a.m. at the corner of Drexel Boulevard and 52st street before marching to Harold Washington Park, along 53rd Street and Hyde Park Boulevard. All are welcome.

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From Chicago Maroon, October 3, 2006. By Sarah Hetherington

Led by the Metropolitan Tenants Organization (MTO) and the Concerned Tenants of Hyde Park, about 150 residents from Hyde Park and surrounding neighborhoods marched on Saturday in a rally against gentrification. Many Chicago neighborhoods as Hyde Park, North Kenwood, Bronzeville, and Woodlawn--have tended to offer affordable rental housing, according to MTO officials. Recently, as rents increase, developers have been converting many rental apartment buildings into higher-priced condos, gentrifying the neighborhoods.

Demonstrators met at the Drexel Square Fountain at East 51st Street and South Drexel Boulevard and marched to Harold Washington Park at East 53rd Street and South Hyde Park Boulevard, holding homemade sighs emblazoned with slogans such as "Development Without Displacement" and "I was Evicted Ten Days Ago." Sly and the Family Stone's "Family Affair" played in the background.

Both MTO and the Concerned Tenants of Hyde Park are organizations that advocate affordable and available housing and tenants' rights. "We're gonna do this over and over again until [the city puts] a freeze on the conversion of condos until better policies are set," said John Bartlett, executive director of the MTO. The audience met his words with applause and cheers. He explained that the MTO is not necessarily against development, but rather the organization is concerned with keeping communities intact in the face of disappearing inexpensive housing.

Annette Williams, a resident of Grove Park Apartments in Woodlawn [60th to 63rd along Cottage Grove], explained that because her apartment building failed a city inspection, it risks being vacated and put on the market by Housing [and] Urban Development (HUD), leaving it open to purchase by private developers. Williams expressed hope that one day she might be able to "own the land and the building along with other tenants" to avoid eviction and the burden of finding new low-and middle-income housing.

Mapel Hardy, a resident of Lake Park Apartments, spoke about the problem of obtaining Section 8 certificates--housing vouchers given to residents with sufficiently low incomes in order to partially subsidize housing--that require an evicted tenant to rent another affordable apartment without federal assistance. "In my personal opinion, most of us would not qualify for vouchers," she said.

Liz Lazdins, and MTO volunteer at the rally, University of Chicago Laboratory School alumna, and a life-long Hyde Parker, said she hoped the demonstration "would bring attention from the city, so that they know we're not gonna take this sitting down."


Herald October 4 2006. By Erin Meyer

At least 100 South Side residents marched through Hyde Park Sept. 30 to protest condo conversions and a lack of area rental housing. The march comes in response to a wave of condominium conversions placing pressure on the dwindling area rental market and the loss of affordable housing.

In August the Herald reported that neighbors from the 5200 block of South Drexel Boulevard were working together to force their respective landlords to respect their rights as tenants. Since, many have been displaced from their units and the neighborhood. Others said they feel it is only a matter of time before their apartments, like so many around them, go condo. All were present at the rally.

"These condo conversions are everybody's problem," said tenant Rosemary Wilkerson. What started as a collection of sympathetic neighbors sharing stories has evolved into the beginning of an affordable housing movement, said Malik Wornum, organizer from Metropolitan Tenants Organization.

A group of tenants from 5222-38 S. Drexel contacted Wornum in May after communication with their landlord broke down. Neighbors from 5235-46 learned of the group's efforts and joined. "People were scared and angry. That's a dangerous combination". Wornum said. "They recognized that they would have more success if they worked together."

As it traveled down 53rd Street the procession grew, picking up passersby. Car horns sounded in support as marchers chanted, "Mayor Daley needs to know; We say not to more condos." Marchers were met at Harold Washington Park by loudspeakers blaring, "It's a family affair." After a short celebration, renters, along with the advocates who helped them turn their anger into action, held a rally.

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Update- residents of Mr. Dehelean's building on Drexel have had to evacuate the building, many moving out of the city and neighborhood, after Harris Bank took over the building.

City department, councilmen forming task force to find ways to do something about sweeping condo conversions

Herald, Oct. 18 2006. By Erin Meyer

Hyde Park renters and affordable housing advocates celebrated news Oct. 10 that the city's Housing Committee Chairman Ray Suarez of the 31st Ward had created a task force to examine the impact of condo conversions on rental housing and low-income residents.

"We are looking forward to learning what the task force finds. I hope that the task force will also go forward and act with the best interests of all residents," said Malik Wornum of the Metropolitan Tenants Organization. Wornum organized a march through the middle of Hyde Park Sept. 30 to pressure the city to impose a moratorium on condo conversions. More than 100 South Siders participated. The seniors, students and low-income families among them said they feared the dwindling availability of rental units would soon force them out of Hyde Park and ultimately out of Chicago.

While the task force creation falls far short of a full-scale moratorium, some of those same residents said they feel vindicated. "Our efforts were not in vain," said Paula Harris, a tenant of 5222-38 S. Drexel Blvd. "We are talking about firemen, teachers, hospital staff. These are our neighbors and we all contribute to this city even though we may not be in a position to buy right now."...

The task force will recommend a policy to counter the loss of affordable rental housing and displacement of low-income residents. "Everyone knows there have been a significant number of condo conversions. The city wants to make sure...that there is some way to deal with this in a fair and equitable way by managing conversions and mitigating the loss of rental units," said Molly Sullivan, spokesperson for the Chicago Department of Housing. Representatives of the DOH along with real estate agent, tenant organizations and elected officials will work together on the task force.

 

But how much is the city really doing? The "new" announced fund of $40 million for affordable rental housing is really from the new state fee that becomes available in 2007, much of the rest is from previously announced commitments or already committed developer density bonuses. And the money that came in for homeless prevention was gone in three months.

Update. The "task force" did not meet for a year and has no tenants advocacy groups on the panel (does have disabilities groups and Chicago Rehab Network). After another rally in October 2007 (this time in front of Daley's office) , Ald. Suarez announced a meeting of the task force November 8. Malik Wornum of MTO said of people having to leave their neighborhoods and cities because of condo conversion, "We see this every day with the condominium conversion[s] going on."

Meanwhile, the legislature passed and governor signed in 2007 a revised plan for required mortgage counseling to stop the problems with sub-prime and inappropriate mortgages. The new bill is intended to counteract problems in the 2006 law, namely that it applied to just certain zip codes, leading to redlining and stop to building there. Now some provisions apply statewide and others to all of Cook County.

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Tenants rights congress meets in Hyde Park Feb. 17 2007 at United Church.

The March 7 Streetwise reported on the Metropolitan Tenants Organization's Community Congress of Tenants February 17. The c 2150 sought ways to promote affordable housing and resist gentrification. Many were victims of condo conversion. Others saw landlords take what they considered unjustified actions while failing to repair and keep up their property--indeed, provide safe conditions. They pointed out that the problem is not just individual acts, but that tenants as a set are kept disadvantaged.

Chicago Department of Housing Commissioner Jack Markowski said the city has plans geared to helping tenants. Ald. Suarez was asked by the Mayor to convene a group to look at the condo problem. Markowski said he will meet with the MTO group. Ald. Preckwinkle pledged to work with the group.

The Congress wants to build a movement for housing justice. The Congress priorities set forth:

1. Put slumlords out of business in Chicago. Start with an investigation into why there are so many slumlords who own or manage subsidized and public housing complexes.

2. Establish a moratorium on condo conversions and the demolition of public housing. They demand representation on Ald. Suarez's Condo Committee.

3. Develop a ceiling on rent increases.

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Report on the meeting in Ald. Hairston's 5th Ward Report, spring 2007.

"I'm a victim of condo conversion. It happened so quickly. It was like a thief in the night," said South Side resident, Zakiyyah S. Muhammad. She was one of more than 200 tenants demanding justice at the recent Community Congress of Tenants Campaign, organized by the Metropolitan Tenants Organization. Ald. Leslie Hairston joined with MTO after learning a number of 5th Ward tenants had been pushed out of their apartments by a landlord performing an illegal condo conversion.

Last month, South, North and West Side Chicago tenants teamed up with housing advocacy organizations in a united front to "demand justice" and dialogue about affordable housing. They assembled at the United Church of Hyde Park to insist public officials address the condo-conversion epidemic and escalating rents. Jack Markowski from the Department of Housing heard concerns and complaints about unresponsive landlords and management companies receiving HUD funding.

According to Shirley Johnson, program director of MTO, in condo conversions many owners sell their buildings to purchasers who serve tenants with a 30-day notice to leave. "Sometimes the notices aren't even legal 30-day notices of termination of tenancy," said Johnson. In some cases tenants actually have 120-190 days to move, depending on whether they have a lease, are disabled and/or a senior citizen. "Tenant that don't know the law may move out. It causes a lot of displacement and sometimes leads to homelessness," added Johnson.

The MTO serves renters across the Chicagoland area, education them about their rights according to Chicago's landmark Residential Landlord and Tenants Ordinance. ...To contact the organization, phone 773 292-4980 ext. 224, the MTO hotline at 773-292-4988 or visit www.tenants-rights.org for further information.

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The Vision of the Grove Parc Tenants' Association

(This group says that when HUD took over, they allowed the wrong elements in and neglected the 700 plus unit complex. GP is a housing and service resource the community needs, the say, and about a third of the units should be rehabbed and kept rather than the whole thing torn down. The group is receiving help from the Student-Tenants Organizing Project (STOP) but would like the University and Woodlawn Preservation and Investment Corp. to step up to the plate. Their web presence is http://GroveParc.blogspot.com/.)

Since the complex was taken over by POAH and is being rebuilt in phases and to allow displaced tenants to come back, the tenants group has a major say in governance and is quite pleased at progress.

HOMES:

Housing with quality living standards. At least 300 units need to stay subsidized, on-site, and get a full gut rehab. Subsidies not retained should be transferred to other housing developments in the neighborhood. All replacement housing, on-site an off-, should be guaranteed to remain affordable for 30 years, through long-term Section 8 Contracts. Current residents must have the right of return/right of first refusal to all on- and off-site housing opportunities in the redevelopment plan.

Owners who care about tenants and who respect that we can, and should, be full and equal partners in creating a better, and stronger community

Management who do their jobs and have regular accountability meetings with the tenant council

Empowerment of residents through the tenant council and through tenant representation on all major decision-making boards

Security personnel who distinguish between residents and criminals and work collaboratively with residents to create a safer community.


We want to work with the owner to provide:

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New manager selected by HUD in accord with Grove Parc's specifications, but can it beat out a HUD closure?

Chicago Maroon, February 3, 2008. By Tyler Warner

A group of Grove Parc residents gathered last week for their regular wednesday night meeting in the office of Southsiders Together Organizing for Power (STOP). The agenda for the night contained a singular item that seemed almost impossible three years ago when the ...Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced the planned foreclosure of the Woodlawn apartment complex. That item was a victory party.

Those in attendance had cause for celebration. On January 15, the members of STOP and the residents of Grove Parc saw the fulfillment of one of their primary objectives: the transfer of Grove Parc's management from Habitat Company to Preservation of Affordable Housing, Inc. (POAH). The change in management was the result of a ruling by HUD, which determined that the property's owner, the Woodlawn Preservation and Investment Corporation (WPIC), had to provide a plan for the redevelopment of the dilapidated property or face foreclosure. The decision was then made to seek new management and ultimately a transfer of ownership.

The apartment complex, built more than 5o years ago at the intersection of 61st Street and Cottage Grove, is showing more than its age. Boarded-up windows have become a common sight around the complex. Residents complain that the management has increasingly failed to respond to tenant complaints. "When I came here in 1991, Grove Parc had 22 maintenance men," said Faith McGhee, an active member of the Grove Parc leadership team and a long-term resident of the development. "When you put in a work order, it would happen that day. Now almost nothing ever happens."

Residents and HUD both acknowledge that crime, as well as vandalism of the property, has become a major source of concern. Grove Parc resident and leadership team member Lonnie Richardson, who is also a member of a number of community policing organizations, pointed to the architecture of the building as a a major facilitator of of crime in the neighborhood. Blind corners, labyrinthine cement staircases, and deep-set entryways conceal criminal activity form the street, which makes policing the area especially difficult.

The complex, made up of two mid-rises and a number of row houses, has become a notable focus of HUD. according to Ed Hinsberger, the director of HUD, the apartment complex was becoming a risk to its residents. the failure to properly address these concerns led to two consecutive failed housing inspections and, ultimately, foreclosure.

Despite these concerns, the planned foreclosure prompted a strong reaction from residents and community organizers such as STOP. After temporarily halting the foreclosure, HUD proposed a number of prospective redevelopment plans to the residents. When these ideas failed to meet the approval of the tenants, the Grove Parc tenants, the Grove Parc leadership team initiated its own nationwide search for potential developers. Under the tenant organizations's stipulations, the new developers would have to agree to preserve at least 300 of the 500 units on location, with the remainder scattered throughout Woodlawn.

According to POAH, members of the leadership team contacted the Boston-based management company after STOP learned that they had successfully acquired and renovated a similar property in nearby Kankakee, IL. POAH manages over 4800 previously "at-risk" rental housing units across the country.

Several members of the team pointed out POAH's history as a champion for low-cost hou8s8ing. "We're happy to have POAH on our side," said McGhee. "I feel as though they are going to help make manifest the vision we have for Grove Parc."

Five blocks to the north of Grove Parc, officials at the U of C have also been paying close attention to the fate of their neighbor. However, according to Hank Webber, vice president for community and government affairs, the University views its role as primarily advisory. "Our role is mainly to encourage and support the Woodlawn residents," he said. "This is a decision that is not and should not be made by the University, but by the Woodlawn community."

Webber, who currently serves on the board of WPIC, said that the most important aspect of the recent progress made in Grove Parc has been the development of a consensus among key organizations within the Woodlawn community regarding the future redevelopment of Grove Parc. He also added that he was favorably impressed by POOAH's national record. "I think steps are moving in the right direction," he said.

However, HUD stipulations require that POAH provide a plan to assume ownership of the property by this month or it is likely that the foreclosure will move forward. "If there is no plan submitted [by POAH] very shortly, we would have to foreclose," Hinsberger said. "The residents are living in some pretty bad conditions."

While all parties involved in the decision-making process agree that these conditions demand attention, the nature of that change has become a source of much debate. Tensions between the Grove Parc residents and HYD reached a boiling point in JUne when a planned meeting between Hinsberger and members of STOP and the leadership team resulted in the arrest of Richardson and several others after a heated at the HUD office.

Before POAH is able to purchase the property, they must complete a unit-by-unit inspection of the apartment complex. According to Karen Blomquist, manager of communications or POAH, the purpose of the inspection is to determine the financial feasibility of the transaction as well as the burden on the residents that would be incurred through redevelopment.

If, following its inspection, POAH agrees to assume ownership, HUD is wiling to work with the developer, but Hinsberger remains unsure whether retaining Grove Parc is the best option. While he said t hat HUD provided tenants with a proposal including similar numbers of on- and off-site subsidized housing to the tenants' expectations, he also stated that housing vouchers were also a consideration.

Housing vouchers are intended t o provide an amount of subsidization equal to the amount provided by project-based housing, but can be used to move from property to property. Project-based housing, on the other hand, is tied to a specific location. Under both plans, recipients are expected to pay 30 percent of their income toward rent. HUD then covers the difference. Currently, Grove Parc consists of 100-percdnt project-based subsidized housing.

"Some have said that vouchers don't provide the same security as project-based housing," said Hinsberger, "but in HUD's eyes, vouchers are virtually the same thing, except that they allow you to move across the country. "

In response to the presentation of vouchers as a possibility, Richardson said that a survey distributed by t he leadership team found that only a very small percentage of tenants favored a voucher system. This stands in contrast to a previous survey conducted by HUD, which found that well over 50 percent of respondents would accept vouchers. Richardson said that he was aware of HUD's survey results, but that they were misleading because the survey was conducted before the voucher system and other options were sufficiently explained to the residents.

While the Grove Park leadership team and STOP have served as the primary representatives and organizers among the Grove parc tenants, other residents have taken matters into their own hands. Last February, resident Luna Stewart filed suit against the Habitat Company. The case, which is still pending, alleged that Habitat had failed to pay tenants the interest on their loans and had failed to disclose the violations cited during the HUD inspection, both violations of the Chicago housing code. According to Stewart's attorney, Mark Silverman, the infractions on the part of Grove Parc's former management entitle Stewart and her fellow tenants to twice the value of their security deposits and the equivalent on one month's rent, which he is seeking.

For Silverman, however, the case is about more than a few thousand dollars. After being approached by Stewart in order to fight the foreclosure, Silverman determined that foreclosure was nearly inevitable and so turned his attention to fighting Habitat in other ways. "I'm not a real optimist.... If the place is going to get shut down, I'd like [the tenants] to leave with something in their pockets," he said. Habitat representatives did not respond to requests for comment.

Prior to any additional steps by either HUD or the leadership team, the residents of Roe Parc will have to wait for POAH to finish their inspections. Even so, McGhee, a longtime tenant, is not about to relinquish her claim on Grove Parc. "I have a history in this community," McGhee said. "This is where I live. This is where my family attends church. Here we're surrounded by the best of parks and the best of transportation and the best of events. I don't want to leave my community. I don't want to be displaced."

Agreement with POAH seems likely, according to the HUD leader who spoke at a forum on campus February 28 2008, but improvement is necessary in the social services component-- whose funds are tied up in city contracts with WPIC and others.

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Are rental buildings developing new stresses under recession, or are such cases as 727 E. 60th (Midway Gardens, a complex put up c. 1953 and owned by the privatized arm, Chicago Dwellings Association, just business as usual, i.e. wreck-empty-and sell? Tenants say rents are going up 25-30% with only signs as notice and no upkeep.

 

Mary Rose Shaughnessy has raised possible threats to affordability for the middle class in Hyde Park from Antheus/MAC policies.

Note: there will be a forum with Mr. Ungar of MAC and Antheus Capital sponsored by HPKCC at the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club, 5480 S. Kenwood, Tuesday, October 16, 7-9 pm.

Letter of Mary Rose Shaughnessy. Herald, July 25 2007 [For contrary views or more discussion, see letter of Edward Perovic, following. See also the 56th Cornell and Village Center pages and High Rises and Conversions.]

Whoa--is this a Mac Management invasion?

Whoa! What's going on in our Hyde Park? Have you noticed all the Mac Management signs around Hyde Park? Have you heard of Antheus Capital LLC? You should know that this corporation owns over 80 properties in Hyde Park, managed by Mac Management. Take a lock at the website of their holdings in Hyde Park: [http://www.]macapartments.com/mac/a_ch_hp_overview.html.

Be sure to click on the Property List by Address link to see the specific buildings. Chances are you live in or nest door to one of his properties. I do.

Does this look like it's getting to be a monopoly? O, yes, now you remember. Isn't Antheus Capital the one who has big plans for the Village Center? And the Windermere? And isn't it the one planning to put up that tower next to Bret Harte School?

If Antheus Capital continues unchecked--it may end up owning more of Hyde Park than the University of Chicago.

What's wrong with this, you ask? Do we want one man, Eli Ungar of Englewood, New Jersey to have a monopoly in Hyde Park?

We wonder what plans has he got for us? Well, to begin with, he thinks we need more expensive condos. "There are very few options for people interested in a highly amenitized, well-located condo building in Hyde Park," he said about the new tower at 56th Street and Cornell Avenue. "There's been very little new construction of residential buildings in Hyde Park," he claims.

Apparently he missed the highly amenitized new residential developments that have gradually filled every inch of Hyde Park before he arrived in 2002.

Can higher real estate taxes be far behind? And judging from the steel and glass tower he plans for the parking lot next to Bret Harte, he has no idea of what architecture is appropriate to Hyde Park.

Ungar also does not seem to understand the character of the community. Hyde Park has never been a bedroom community of short termers who come for a few years to work and then move on. Yet that is what Hyde Park could become if the middle-income renters have to move out because they can't afford the new rents after he upgrades his rental properties, as he is dong with the Algonquin Apartments. "Stainless steel appliances, including a dishwasher, are surrounded by granite counter, granite backsplashes and white laminate cabinets. Translucent doors that match the hall closet enclose one pair of cabinet. White subway tiles line the kitchen's far wall, and dark beige ceramic tiles cover the floor," according to Janice Rosenberg in a "Special to the Tribune" March 18.

Stainless steel and granite counters will mean middle-class residents and seniors who are already paying almost half of their income to live in the Algonquin will have to leave. Does he plan to "amenitize" all the 80+ buildings Antheus owns in Hyde Park?

Do we want upgraded buildings at the expense of our long term neighbors? Do we want Hyde Park to become Evanston-on-the-Midway? Do we want to drive out the middle class from Hyde Park? Do we want our real-estate taxes going through the roof?

Is Mr. Ungar interested in us, or is he only interested in the profit that can be made from hot properties for his corporation?

__________________

Ed.: Others emphasize how bad a condition many of K & G's buildings were in and have seen nothing but improvements and only modest rent increases of about 6% so far. There is no doubt that MAC has the ability and presence to be a power and trendsetter in the local realty market and building management.

The Algonquin Antheus buildings seem to have more problems. Delays, partly due to more abatement problems than anticipated, cash flow problems, elimination of union and other knowledgeable staff (which is said to be stretched thin), some steep rent increases, lack of information and communication above all have led to serious concern by tenants, some of whom fear the middle class are being given the bums rush. There is also concern that Antheus/MAC may have acquired too much too fast, have too large a proportion of properties (their proportion is unconfirmed), perhaps have an investment and write-off agenda that could leave abandoned or messed up buildings should markets and other conditions turn sour.

Shaughnessy adds in letter to the Herald of October 3, 2007:

..Antheus Capital now owns more than 85 properties in Hyde Park--making it the second largest property owner after the University of Chicago. Eli Ungar is good to give us his time to answer our questions about what he has in mind for Hyde Park in the future. Let us take advantage of his willingness to listen and ask him questions. Let us ask him what he plans for all these properties, aside from making a big profit.

Remember that Antheus is an investment capital organization, that Mr. Ungar is from Englewood, N.J., and that his investors are not local. What's in all this for Hyde Park?

He claims he intends to "upgrade" the buildings. That would be nice, but what if it means "upgrading" the rents to the point where middle-class renters ($30,000 to $50,000 annual income) can't afford to live in Hyde Park any longer? Are we going to like losing all these long-time Hyde Parkers who make the community stable and interesting and becoming more of a bedroom community for short-termers?

Hyde Park has been a unique community since its beginning. Do we want to lose our uniqueness just to be upgraded with granite countertops and stainless steel appliances?

There are many sides to "upgrades," not all of which are pleasant, and we need to confront them now, before they happen, with the man who has control over our future.

Let us put forth our case for maintaining Hyde Park's uniqueness as a community. For those of us who don't rent, let us keep in mind that along with the rents going up, our property taxes will go up.

Please come on Tuesday, Oct. 17, 7 p.m., to the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club.

Maroon Oct. 12 2007 says (many) tenants bemoaned MAC management- by a 2010 campus forum much of this was cleared up.

By Claire Wilcox

When fourth-year Zach Herz started the Facebook group "Why Yes, I Too Have Threatened MAC with Legal Action," it was just intended as an inside joke between some friends. But the group's membership has quickly ballooned to more than 50 students since its inception, with frustrated tenants posting a litany of complaints, including missing mailbox keys, lost rent checks, filthy apartments, unfounded eviction notices, and unreturned phone calls.

The group stemmed from Herz's own experience with MAC Property Management, which became HydePark's largest realtor after buying housing management firm K & G last April. "They lost our security deposit three times. They called by roommate and asked what the check looked like," Herz said. "Then they threatened to show our apartment to other people while we were living there."

He, in turn, then threatened legal action, claiming that MAC would be breaking the housing code by showing their occupied apartment to prospective parties. Both leasing agents and Chicago-based MAC executives declined to comment for this article, citing company policy.

Though not universal, these gripes are commonplace among MAC tenants, and Herz's Facebook group is one indicator that MAC may not be a significant improvement of K & G's notoriously substandard practices. "I've heard from my roommates that while K & G would always find the cheapest way to do repairs, they at least did them promptly," said third-year Hannah Jacoby, another student tenant, in an e-mail interview. "MAC is absolutely non-responsive when we file work orders with them. Usually things don't get done until we threaten some sort of legal action or refuse to pay rent."

Still, tenants who have experienced problems are not all quick to blame MAC. Third-year Ilana Tabby, a former K & G tenant, believes that MAC's difficulties are due to a bad inheritance. "I think that MAC didn't see see all the apartments before buying them from K & G," she said, citing missing kitchen drawers and broken screens in her apartment. "But they've been really responsive. I think a lot of it doesn't have to do with the realtor. If there's an issue we can contact them about it."

The poor physical conditions of the newly acquired buildings present a formidable challenge, which MAC is attempting to address through large repairs to buildings across Hyde Park. Still, MAC's problems seem to stem significantly from internal disorganization, said residents whose documents were lost.

"MAC" is well intentioned," said Herz. "If you're able to get a hold of them, they really do want to help, but they're not really professional. I had to start making my own copies, and they don't keep track of papers."

In addition to the merger with K & G, MAC has changed primary apartment management offices numerous times in the past year. "Too often they're pining things on the tenants," said Emilie Shumway, a second-year in the College and a first-time apartment tenant. "I feel like they're trying to take advantage of students who they think don't know anything about their rights. We didn't know we could ask for things like blinds until our maintenance guy told us."

Jacoby echoed the frustration and believes that MAC's singular hold over Hyde Park real estate was to blame. "It really has reinforce the importance of tenant solidarity in my mind," said Jacoby. "If all MAC residents were to have a rent strike until they shaped up, things would likely change. They have no competition in Hyde Park, so there is no motivation for them to improve the quality of their work. I think a coalition of MAC tenants would be hugely helpful in fixing these problems."

Reports on the October 16 HPKCC forum with Eli Ungar

MAC owner defends management. Chicago Maroon, October 19, 2007. By Sarah Hetherington

The Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference held an open forum at the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club Tuesday to allow local residents to converse with Eli Ungar, founder and president of Antheus Capital and its affiliate MAC Property Management, one of the principal real estate management companies in Hyde Park.

George Rumsey, president of the conference, introduced Ungar to an audience of mostly non-student community members and asked that individuals refrain from posing questions or complaints about individual issues in lieu of asking broader questions. Ungar, however, welcomed any and all nitty-gritty concerns, offering to stay for as many hours into the night as necessary and vowing to answer all questions in precise detail.

"If there are things wrong, we need to know about them, and they need to be fixed," he said. "Our investments are only going to make sense if Hyde Park thrives... We learned a lot from buying 43 buildings in one day," he said, referring to MAC's purchase of Hyde Park properties from K& G Management last spring. "We need to do it better."

Mary Rose Shaughnessy, who wrote a letter to the Hyde Park Herald in July posing the question of whether Ungar's purchase of the 43 apartment buildings constituted a monopoly on Hyde Park real estate, began the forum with a comment. "They own so much of HydePark. [Ungar] has a huge stake in our community, but he doesn't work for us," she said. "What if [MAC] raises rents? They could drive out old-time residents."

In response, one man said, "Remember, [Ungar] is stuck here as much as we are stuck with him. We have an advantage in that he has a profit-based interest in our community." Nonetheless, Shaughnessy's comment reflected two of the major concerns voiced during the forum: first, whether MAC's renovation and refurbishment of Hyde Park real estate would actually improve existing properties' and secondly, how MAC's renovation would impact rent increases and the ability of long-time residents to afford living in the neighborhood.

One woman spoke about rumored mismanagement of asbestos abatement to the Algonquin Apartments. Ungar responded that MAC had purchased the Algonquin from a building owner who had failed in trying to convert the building into a condo. Mac was left with a property in very poor condition with renovation constrained by inherited and highly restrictive electricity and plumbing permits, he said. Ungar openly admitted that certain contractors began renovation without regard to asbestos midway through construction. "I take full responsibility for the mistakes," he said. "It was expensive, embarrassing, and it was my fault." Ungar hired a contractor that specialized in asbestos abatement to fix the mistakes and subsequently allowed the city to run tests on the building to make sure it was up to code.

Another woman also said that the rent increase due to the Algonquin's renovation threatened her ability to remain there as a senior citizen. She now has to spend half her income on rent, she said.

It was a concern Ungar responded to repeatedly through the evening. "I don't want to pretend higher rents are not an issue," he said. Ungar said he was interested in preserving Hyde Park real estate, emphasizing that condominium conversion has drastically depleted rental stock. Ungar claimed that no new apartment construction has taken place in the neighborhood in almost 20 years, citing one statistic stating that 22,000 rental units available in the neighborhood in 2002 had decreased to 27,000 due to condo conversion.

In addition to discussing MAC Property's resistance to condo conversion as a future prospect in Hyde Park, Ungar said that "just not raising rents is not ultimately going to succeed," but suggested that discussion and cooperation between "an admittedly for-profit organization such as MAC and the community allows for the potential for a productive collaboration for both parties."

Ungar contrasted the pragmatic view of MAC Property's real estate investment with a more altruistic explanation of how his company has attempted to invest in the community's future. Ungar spoke of sponsoring scholarships at Kenwood Academy named after teachers at the school and described how he was motivated by a conversation with the Academy's principal about fundraising setbacks to donate $80,000 in order to replace seats in the school's auditorium.

"So far, we have been biased towards giving to education," Ungar said. "In order for a neighborhood to be great, its schools have to be great." Ungar concluded by stressing that MAC Property was interested in staying in Hyde Park for the long haul. "My goal is to be here 20 years from now, slightly thinner," he grinned.

 

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Ald. Hairston again seeking to advance an ordinance on "slumlords" getting city funds, in conjunction with Metropolitan Tenants Organization

Hyde Park Herald, August 29 2007. By Georgia Geis.

A measure introduced last year by Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) and blocked by a city agency is working its way back through the Chicago City Council with the help of a city-wide tenant advocacy group.

In May [2007], Hairston reintroduced the Safe Home Ordinance to the Chicago City Council in the hopes that slumlords would not receive any city funds until their properties are brought up to code. The Metropolitan Tenants Organization (MTO) is backing the rewritten ordinance, which it had a hand in penning. MTO is raising awareness regarding the bill, which MDTO Executive Director John Bartlett said largely targets the worst landlords.

"This legislation is aimed at the really bad landlords, who are not maintaining their buildings, Bartlett said.. Hairston said the measure seeks to stop landlords who put profits above basic maintenance. "No one should have to live in squalor," said Hairston. "These owners and managers should not be allowed to prosper."

Hairston said she has spoken with many tenants in her ward living in property with obvious housing violations. She describes extreme situations, such as raw sewage flooding a basement, flea infestations and plumbing problems resulting in human waste running down walls.

Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th) said she pledged her support for the measure when it was first introduced last year and would do the same this term. "Unfortunately we don't have a magic wand to make property owners behave the way they should," said Preckwinkle.

After the ordinance failed to pass last year, Hairston teamed up with MTO to fine-tune the definition of a slumlord used in the measure, which proved to be a stumbling block for passage. Opposition to this bill came from the city's Department of Procurements Services' staff, who felt it would mean a lot of extra bureaucratic work to certify all the property owners.

Bartlett said that the city should not be doing business with slumlords on any level. Funding for these business owners takes the form of tax breaks and other subsidies, he said.

Hairston said this should not just be a city law, but a state and federal law as well. "It is a basic right to have safe and clean housing no matter what your income," said Hairston.

MTO is connecting tenants with their alderman to lobby for passage of the bill, according to MTO member Shirley Johnson. "They are trying to preserve affordable housing by getting slumlords to comply."

Tenants who believe they are living in substandard conditions can contact MTO through their hotline. The MTO hotline is available to any tenants in need Monday through Friday form 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at [773] 292-4988.

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Some residents have expressed dismay at Hyde Park Club's closure of its senior day care program. The program had been mostly funded, but was losing that funding and was the most expensive--certainly per user--for the facility. The club said it has made arrangements for most at other (distant) facilities. Some writers to the Herald have expressed great disappointment for a loss of service to both the families and the neighborhood, where over-60 is the fastest growing sector (as it is in the country). These writers point out that the program was in large part funded and that families would be willing to pay more. They suggest the Club is in danger or losing its motto "A place for everyone" and the neighborhood slipping into unaffordability for seniors. The board is looking into revival of a program in better form in the future. The situation was complicated by loss of state license.


Seminary Action students rally to provide affordable housing.

Hyde Park Herald, September 5, 2007. By Nykeya Woods

Last Friday, a six-bedroom apartment in the 5400 block of South Lake Pak Avenue became a communal cooperative founded by a group of seminary students dedicated to reaching across denominational lines and into the community.

"Our goal is to work in partnership with the different organizations and churches and institutions in Hyde Park and in the surrounding neighborhoods," Chicago Theological Seminary student Le Anne Clausen said. "We are also trying to create a community of welcome for students of all different backgrounds." Clausen, along with several other seminary students, launched Seminary Action earlier in the year with the goal of creating an interdenominational community and a means for students to work as a group in Hyde Park and beyond. "It's really great," said Chinese exchange student Qianru Qi. Qi, a Ph.D. exchange student at the University of Chicago, said the coop provided special benefits to her both s an international student and a Ph.D. candidate.

"It's good for Ph.D. students because you ...only talk to your supervisor about your dissertation," Qi said. "I's important [for] international [students] because you are isolated and [at the co-op] you can become accustomed to Chicago," she said. Isolation among students, especially seminary students, is a primary reason why Clausen is developing suitable housing for those who need it. She said that seminary students are finding it difficult to find rental apartments in the neighborhood because prices are skyrocketing. "Housing for seminary students is a an all-time low," Clausen said, "and that means that students are becoming more isolated."

As a result, Clausen and Seminary Action are not stopping at opening the co-op at 1515 E. 54th St. They are also raising $1.5 million for a Hyde Park monastery. The order that owns the monastery wishes to remain anonymous, Clausen said. "We don't want to see it turn into condos," Clausen said. "The monastery is well-suited for how close it is to schools. It's the ideal location."

Last Friday, two students from the University of Chicago, two international students and three seminary students moved into the coop, owned by New Jersey-based Antheus Capital. Clausen said that Global Serve- the co-op's name-- crates a dorm-like atmosphere for students who are not from the city. Clausen said that the coop would also demonstrate how volunteer service could be an important part of a person's studies. In addition to the $425 each student pays each month, they commit five hours of community service a month.

Clausen said that Seminary Action is hoping to have acquired the monastery by the end of September and that it would house students who are currently commuting weekly from South Bend, Ind., Milwaukee, Grand Rapids, Mich., and Davenport, Iowa. The students are venturing to Catholic Theological Union, Chicago Theological Seminary, McCormick Theological Seminary, The University of Chicago Divinity School, and Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago.

"If this [neighborhood] has this many schools to study at..let's make this [a] place [that] religion comes out of," Clausen said.

Interfaith Youth Core Executive Director Eboo Patel agreed with Clausen. he said the idea of bringing young seminary students to serve is the animating idea of Seminary Action and his nine-year-old organization. "As we... become a place where people from different religious backgrounds interact with greater frequency and intensity, we have to make the choice of finding common ground between religious traditions," Patel sid. "And the most important common ground that we can find is the shared value of serving others."

Patel also said that those students who take advantage of Global Serve co-op are making an important statement because they are forming a community, which is based in "faith and faith value in serving others."

For more information, visit seminaryaction.org.

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Qumbya Cooperative living. Three locations in the heart of Hyde Park. For information contact www.qumbya.com, Lisa Junkin, ljunkin@gmail.com. This option has been going since the 1960s.


Foreclosures up in Hyde Park, city

Herald, March 5, 2008. by Kate Hawley

The number of foreclosures rose 35 percent in Hyde Park last year, according to data released Monday by the chicago-based National Training and Information Center.

Hyde Park had 54 foreclosures in 2007, up from 40 a year earlier, the data show.The Center's report tracks foreclosures from 2000 to 2007 in all 77 of Chicago's community areas. Citywide, foreclosures are up all but one community area. Austin led the pack ,with 803 foreclosures last year. In general, the highest concentrations occurred on the South and west sides. These areas historically have the highest rates of foreclosure, a problem made much worse by the recent surge in subprime lending, said David Rose, the NTIC researcher who compiled the report.

"With rising home values and a general hot market, brokers could really get away with fraud and abuse," Rose said. "It was a ride that was bound to crash. This is hat the crash looks like." Rose said the foreclosure crisis isn't likely to recede any time soon. "We've got another rough year at least coming," he said, adding, "I think a lot depends on what the industry does."

Prices dropped steeply with few houses selling in North Kenwood-Oakland and Woodlawn-- some developers selling last houses at fire sale auctions. Yet in the Kenwood area in the election quarter of late 2008, housing prices in north and south Kenwood went back up 25% due to an Obama effect or blip.

Parts of Woodlawn seem to turn around without displacement and with some affordability.

One such according to the January 22 2009 Chicago Weekly, is the 6600 block east of Cottage Grove. While housing prices have soared, they have come down some and developers such as Greenline, which develops only on empty land and or already empty buildings, plus city subsidy, still allows some to really be able to afford and move into-- and keep--houses in the $150-$185 range.

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Chicago Rehab Network says Foreclosures not a surprise

[We all know the facts that have come out about how the flood of money from abroad seeking investment in "American real estate" combined with relaxation of regulation to "encourage homeowning" going back at least through the Clinton Administration opened the door for greed and fraud to take over, abetted by the middle of the decade by Freddie, Fannie, regulators, and top auditing, investment, and banking firms.] Then....

Based on the Spring/Summer 2008 Network News

The publication says that a laissez-fair approach to development- that growth is always a benefit without consequences- is responsible jointly for the payday loan/predatory lending and mortgage feeding frenzy. For a long time income has not kept up with home prices and rents and Chicagoans are spending in general too much on shelter. Alarms were not sounded as "affordability" was marginalized. 73% of Chicagoans earn less than $75,000. Only community development corporations kept a level head, were inclusionary and accountable. CRN says they should be turned to by the city now to add value to communities.

The income levels are under $10,000 12%, 10-25,000 10%, 25-35,000 10%, 35-50,000 14%, 50-75 18%.

Studies by Harvard and the Woodstock Institute show that home ownership is not a cure and renters are in crisis also while one third of foreclosures in 2007 were in two to six unit buildings. http://www.jchs.harvard.edu.

Foreclosures in Chicago are running at 1000 to over 1,700 a month.

Squeeze increased on students by bedbug scare, then eviction of students from UC-owned residences at 57th and Drexel for extensive wall repairs.

At least 44 college students and 1 grad have to vacate because steel wall structure of 5654-5458 S. Drexel (bought from McGarry or Antheus in 2007 summer) are greatly rusted and deteriorated, but not in danger of collapse on the building. Start of Hospitals construction across the street by winter quarter also was a cause for concern and decision to vacate at the end of fall quarter. Students will be given $500 in relocation costs and a set of meetings will be held on options; any apartments that open up (likely few or none in dorms) will be held in reserve. The dean of students in the College reportedly said there is a 25% vacancy rate in Hyde Park, which this site thinks unlikely by this time in the fall. The buildings were indeed closed at least for duration of new hospital pavilion in spring, 2009

The University is waiving Nov. and Dec. rent and giving $500 moving costs in advance to the students. There will be a lottery for student housing spaces. MAC properties is giving move-in incentives. UC VP Rosenberg said he thought students will not pay more.

University Real Estate insists this is not a conspiracy to just tear down and landbank the buildings. Jo Reizner said they really intend to upgrade and repopulate as housing, but Rosenberg told the Herald the university has no plans to repopulate the buildings, making the housing loss potentially permanent. He told the Herald, "The structural repairs would be so difficult and expensive that we're going to re-evaluate our options."

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While Midway Gardens, 700 block of east 60th, has a rent strike over big rent increases without repairs, MAC spokesman says rental market is stable in Hyde Park and students weigh campus vs neighborhood as certain UC housing plans go up.

Managers, Chicago Dwelling Association are trying to "Catch up" all at once and won't negotiate more gradual increases (even with the alderman) while not promising any repairs to the allegedly deteriorated building. Fears were expressed that the UC will take over the building.

The UC is keeping the room an board prices the same, but certain plans will apparently become more expensive just as the center of gravity moves south with new dorm on 60th opening and Shoreland closing. People continue to ponder whether the UC's large presence holds rents in HP high.

While there is a rise in foreclosures starting early in 2008, it is much less that in some surrounding and other Chicago neighborhoods and is strongest in foreclosures. The rental market is so far quite stable.

Students weigh prices and hassle when deciding to move off-campus. Maroon, April 14, 2009. By Constance Zhang

...the makeup of the Hyde Park real estate market remains relatively unchanged. Hyde Park saw an increase in housing prices prior to the economic crisis, but not one as significant as other Chicago residential neighborhoods. Because Hyde Park was not affected by the housing bubble, the economic downturn and plummeting home prices nationwide have had little effect on local real estate prices, according to Peter Cassel, a spokesman for MAC Property Management, one of the leading providers of residential apartments in the Hyde Park neighborhood. Cassel said that since demand didn't increase in the past few years, Hyde Park didn't fall victim to the same burst bubble as the rest of the market. Cassel said there have not been significant shifts in the prices or makeup of the rental market. "So far, the activity is comparable to that of last years," he said.

With on-campus housing prices ranging from $667 to $889 per month, off-campus housing can be an appealing option, with rates dipping below $500 per month. Combined with the elimination of the moderate meal plan for current first-years, which was aba out $2,000 cheaper than next year's required plan, the decision to live off campus can be primarily a financial one of rm any students. [And some say the new apartment in the new dorm are a lot smaller than in the Shoreland. But some value location, convenience, alone vs with others and campus experience. And there's the hassle.] According to MAC figures, the number of U of C undergraduates who moved out of dorms over the past few years has remained constant, reflecting the minor role of the economy plays in the decision to rent. "There will always be students drawn to university housing, and others that want to live off campus. So it is impossible to predict any long-term impact on the market," Cassel said.

 

 

Washington Park nexus (Development Detail and Community News have more incl. University explanation)

Maroon report, November 11. By Ella Christoph

At a Washington Park community meeting on Saturday, moderator Leon Finney evoked local residents' enthusiasm about Barack Obama's victory to introduce local challenges that face the neighborhood. "This is the time for us to stand together with people of like mind in order to get something done," said Finney, the chairman of The Woodlawn Organization.

At the meeting, University of Chicago Vice President of Civic Engagement Sonya Malunda attempted to alleviate neighborhood concerns about the University's expansion west of South Cottage Grove avenue into the Washington Park area, where the U of C has purchased 10 parcels of land this year and is in the midst of negotiating the purchase of five more parcels, totaling slightly less than four acres along West Garfield Boulevard between South King Drive adn south Prairie Avenue. Until recently, the University had not developed west into Washington Park, expanding both north and south instead.

The University has yet to create plans for the use of these properties but hopes to provide economic growth and jobs in the neighborhood. Development possibilities include outreach and career initiatives, increased involvement in local schools, after-school programs, and youth development. "We don't have a plan. We felt that if we came in with a plan, the community wouldn't be happy with that," Malunda said.

Malunda underscored the University's hopes to facilitate a process that is engaged, transparent, and participatory to determine the best uses for the land.. We realize we cannot simply invest on the community, acquire property in the community, without offering community benefits," she said.

Community members' concerns harkened back to the University's history of urban renewal in the 1950s and '60s, when it earned criticism as insular and racist, particularly for the way it pushed out many of the poor black residents of Woodlawn. Malunda attempted to assuage fears that University development would make the neighborhood less affordable and force poor residents out of the area.

"It is not our intent to push anyone out of their homes," she said. "It is not our intent to purchase the entire Washington Park area," She added that the University does not have eminent domain status, which meant it does not share the powers of the government to take private property for public use.

However, some property owners welcomed University involvement, expressing hopes that development of vacant and dilapidated building would raise property values. Others said they hoped that the University would keep its promises and provide more resources to the community. "This is our opportunity to work with you, to seek your help in prioritizing, in seeing how you would like to be involved," Malunda said, adding that the University plans to work with 20th-Ward Alderman Willie Cochran and Third-Ward Alderman Pat Dowell.

The possibility of Chicago hosting the 2016 Olympics, which wil in part take place in Washington Park if Chicago wins the bid, has influenced plans for the future of the neighborhood, which currently has about 1,000 abandoned properties and has lost over three-quarters of its population in the last 50 years. The increased development and economic success in Hyde Park and Woodlawn has not spread to the Washington Park area, Malunda said. "The Olympics can be and impetus. It can be a catalyst for the community to come together," Malunda said, adding that regardless of the impact of the Olympics, the focus will be on resources for the community.

"Really, the question is, 'What will the community be in 2017?'" she said. Malunda publicized some of the University's recent community development efforts, which have aimed to create safe, mixed-use communities, attract high quality retail, expand mixed-income housing opportunities, and create permanent jobs.

Some people attended the meeting to express a hope that the new development would provide construction jobs for residents of the area. They said that high crime rates in Washington Park were mainly due to a lack of job opportunities. "The only reason criminals are doing what they did is because they're not employed,: Washington Park resident Juan Montgomery said.

Malunda advertised the recently launched Career Pathways Initiative, which aims to help residents of Woodlawn, Washington Park, and the mid-South neighborhoods find quality employment at the University, the Medical Center, and with other employers. So far, the program has assisted 100 residents in finding positions.

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The Sutherland

Sutherland bought- to resuscitate with 30% affordable units (through 2018). A South Side Landmark, its nearly-complete historic ballroom hosted blues and jazz greats. Will add well over 100 occupied affordable units while trimming units from 156 to 109. KOCO insists on better deal for tenants from exiting Heartland. Sutherland presents many of the perplexities, barriers, challenges of both older neglected buildings and of affordable housing.

Antheus gave considerable concessions to the tenants and by the tail end of August a Heartland was working with all the 43 tenants, who were moving, and paying out thousands of dollars in assistance. MAC will pay up to a year in assistance for rents higher than last at Sutherland and provide letters of explanation of circumstances. When the rehab is done, applications from former residents will be given priority, but units will not be reserved.

But, when MAC issued eviction notices saying almost all tenants had not paid August rent, and that the relationship was tenants pay and MAC provides money for moving, KOCO (Kenwood-Oakland Community Organization) held a demonstration (called raucous by the Herald and that only had a couple of tenants in it) at MAC hq on 53rd St. MAC then refused to meet any further with KOCO but only with tenants.

________________

By early summer of 2010 Antheus had entered a contract to buy from Heartland Alliance the 1917 Sutherland Hotel at 47th and Drexel. Its ballroom had once been venues for Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and Dizzy Gillespie and a major restoration project of jazzman Malachi Thompson after his return from years as an emigre in Paris. Sutherland was Heartland's first major affordable residential project-- the tax credits require 25% set aside regardless of owner. When Heartlands' request for renewal was denied in 2007, the building was put up for sale and occupancy is now under one third. An assessment and final approval of ballroom renovations by the city is now underway, after which the city will release a $500,000 Empowerment grant for arts programming at the Sutherland ballroom (renovated from a $412,645 grant.) In order for the affordable tax write offs to continue, Heartland must continue as tenant of the ballroom and other things have to be arranged such as temporary set aside of the affordable credits during renovation. Antheus and Heartland expect to have all worked out within a year so renovation can begin.

Hyde Park Herald, August 11, 2010. Antheus Capital Buys Sutherland. By Sam Cholke

["We are not animals," says Sutherland resident Sherri Langhamas she and fellow tenants Shirley Perry and Troy wynn speak with the media about conditions at the Sutherland Apartments and the notice they would have to move in 30 days.]

The Sutherland building has lost the battle against decay, and the few residents sticking out the fight were informed Aug. 2 that their leases would not be renewed as teh building is cleared prior to renovation by new owner, Antheus Capital.

"Seems to me like it's preordained," said William Burns, who has lived in his 4th floor apartment in the Sutherland, 4659 S. Drexel Ave., for 14 years. "There comes a time for all of us to move on, but we shouldn't be forced to move on." Standing in his one-bedroom apartment on Aug. 5 a he got ready for his baking job at Jewel, Burns said he thought he could manage the 30-day notice to move, but he wasn't sure some of his neighbors would fare as well. "This is not only a building--to a lot of us it's a home," Burns said.

Burns and the 42 other remaining residents invested their faith in the building and its former owner, Heartland Housing - faith that the owner would come through on promises to renovate the building. A rehab of he historic ballroom on the building's first floor was completed last month, and many residents assumed their apartments would be next. While residents waited, they suffered as their home crumbled around them.

"I've got a big hole here where the rodents come in," Burns said, leaning over his radiator. Crouching down he pointe to two long brown discolorations in the carpet on either side of his bed where pipes leaked and flooded his apartment last month. "I stepped out of bed into a puddle," he said.

The apartment building's decay has accelerated since 2007, when Heartland Housing lost out on federal funding for a rehab of the building. "We thought they were going to fix the building," said Raymond Cunningham, who has lived in his seventh-floor "penthouse suite" for the past eight years. Heartland has offered to help in finding a new place, but Cunningham said he would like to come back. "You want to come back? I don't want to see this building again," said Pat Harper, as she and Cunningham compared bedbug bites in front of the building.

Cunningham said the problems around the Sutherland, which sits at the intersection for the Hyde Park, Kenwood and Grand Boulevard neighborhoods, were problems he knew and could manage. He said he was hesitant to move to a neighborhood where he didn't know the people and the dangers. "You've got to figure out if the neighborhood is safe; you don't want to move into a neighborhood with gangs," Cunningham said.

For many longtime residents, the notice to move brings back memories of 1989 when Heartland Housing bought the building, which was then firmly in control of the El Rookens gang. "We feel like we got it to one level," said Andy Geer, executive director of Heartland Housing. "We weren't able to get the financing to get it to the next level." The Sutherland was then teh first building Heartland Housing purchased in Chicago. "It's definitely very bittersweet fo us," Geer said.

Heartland Housing has set aside $150,000 of the $2,725,000 sale of the building to help residents transition to a new apartment. Heartland will pay for residents to move, pay the first month's rent and provide financial assistance to any resident who move into a higher priced apartment.

Too Far Gone to Fix

The new owner, Antheus Capital, looked at renovating the building with the residents in lace, but found the building to be in such poor physical shape that it couldn't be done. "We can't figure out how to do it with folks still in the building," said Eli Ungar, president of Antheus Capital. "The only thing we could think to do was empty the building and renovate." Ungar said the building's electrical, plumbing and mechanical systems are too far deteriorated to fix with the building occupied.

The renovations will trim the number of units down to 109 from 156. Tax subsidies awarded to Heartland in 2008 will transfer to the new owner and 30 percent of teh units will bed set aside as affordable through 2018. The remaining units will be set at market rate.

Antheus owns more than 70 buildings in Hyde Park and the surrounding communities, many purchased as under-occupied buildings that haven't seen any major investment in 90 years. "We're really rebuilding these buildings," Ungar said. Antheus Capital has been criticized for removing affordable housing units in the neighborhood when it purchases old buildings, rehabs them and reoccupies them at at a higher rent.

"There is an affordable housing problem in Hyde Park we are aware we are not solving, but that's a question we're not shirking from," Ungar said. Ungar said...many of the buildings Antheus has purchased had such low rents because the previous landlords were not investing any of the rent money from tenants in keeping up the building, thus keeping the rents low at the expense of the life of the building.

Both Heartland and Antheus pointed tot eh Sutherland as an example of the current difficulty of financing affordable housing. "There just isn't enough capital flowing to save these properties, and when it does flow, it doesn't flow that quickly," Geer said of the financing options available to nonprofits like Heartland.

The for-profit Antheus is still struggling to find a financing model that would allow it to offer more affordable units at the Sutherland. Ungar said he is looking at ways to provide more affordable units in its buildings, but is coming up against city zoning rules that make it difficult. "If we can make the numbers work, they can come back," Ungar said.

[KOCO organizer Jitu Brown discusses the demand of Sutherland residents with Heartland Alliance Executive Director of Strategic Services Liz Sode during a march out front of the organization's downtown headquarters last Friday. (more in next)]


Antheus and the Sutherland. A Herald editorial, August 11, 2010

One thing you have to admit about Antheus Capital head Eli Ungar is that he does not shrink from a challenge. His latest purchase of th Sutherland Hotel, 4659 S. Drexel Blvd., is matched perhaps only by his vision for high-rise Solstice-on-the-Park, on 56th Street at Cornell avenue, in its boldness and complexity.

The Sutherland is a storied hotel constructed int eh late-1910s, early 1920s. It was a jazz mecca that drew audience members of all ethnicities to its "Black and Tan" performances. Over the years, it was converted into an apartment building and eventually owners acquired subsidies from various agencies to assist tenants in paying rent.

By the time Antheus bought the property last month, it had devolved into a vermin-infested, moldy, code-violating, largely vacant property. Nevertheless, the remaining tenants are agitating loudly for their rights, even as the head fo the organization that was the previous owner, Heartland Housing, a subsidiary of Heartland Alliance, announce that the tenant will have just 30 days to vacate. This has drawn the Kenwood-Oakland Community Organization into the fray, and they and the tenants are making three demands:

- Ninety days for relocation;
-A year of subsidy for renters to compensate for the move;
-The right to return to the property after redevelopment.

It's quite a mess that Ungar is walking into.

Despite the controversy surrounding the building's maintenance history -- and, in a sense, because of it-- we think Antheus is the right company for teh building. It is in desperate need of the kind of thoughtful rehabilitation antheus has demonstrated in several other properties. Both its history and the quality of its construction deserve careful attention.

While we have confidence in Antheus' capacity in that respect, we are more concerned about the disposition of the current tenants. Antheus has an agreement with Heartland that makes the former owner responsible for relocation. While Heartland has a fine track record in general, the organization has failed these tenants as building managers. Antheus should persuade Heartland to agree to the tenants' and KOCO's demands and to do what it can to support those tenants. The troubled history of the building was perpetuated by Heartland and it sold a building occupied by tenants and owes them respect.

Chicago Tribune. Wednesday August 11 2010. By Alejandra Cancino
Given 30 days to move, tenants sound blue note. Sale of Sutherland Hotel, a former jazz hot spot, means renovation but th loss of dozens of low-cost housing units.
Pictures- sign says "MAC Properties and Heartland Dump Tenants!" Jay Travis of the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization rallies with residents of the Sutherland Hotel at the Heartland Alliances's Loop headquarters. The tenants are protesting the 30-day notice they received to vacate their homes. Another says "A popular jazz venue in its heyday, the Sutherland Hotel became a run-down apartment complex in recent decades."

As a child, Leroy Bowers remembers seeing John Coltrane, Louis Armstrong an Dizzy Gillespie outside the Sutherland Hotel at 47th Street and Drexel Boulevard on his way to Kenwood Park. "I would come by and see people lined up to see the show," said Bowers, 62. In the 1960s, it was common to see famous jazz musicians hanging around the seven-story, 154-room hotel famous for its Sutherland Show Lounge. The hotel's New York Room frequently hosted private parties, and celebrities would gather in the Ebony Club.

As it has for other storied entertainment venues of the time, the glory of those years fade, and by the early 1990s the hotel was turned into low-and moderate-income rental housing by its owner, Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights. The building, which declined over the years--mold on the walls, infested with mice and cockroaches--was recently sold for l$2.7 million to developers who plan to renovate teh building and turn it into low-income and market-rate apartments.

That's good news to people who say the building and its history deserve to be preserved. But longtime residents, such as Bowers, are losing their homes. On July 29, the day the building was sold, Bowers and teh 42 other tenants received a letter informing them they have 30 days to vacate. Residents say that's not enough time and are demanding that Heartland Alliance gave them 90 days. They also are asking for 12 months of rental assistance and the priority right to return once the building has been rehabilitated.

But Andrew Geer, vice president and executive director of Heartland Alliance, said it's up to the developer, Antheus Capital, to make such concessions, adding that Heartland is merely acting as the relocating agent. "The goal is overall to move people forward as quickly as possible and make sure that they have options as they are looking for them," Geer said, adding that Heartland has made case managers available to help tenants find new homes and monetary assistance to residents in good standing on a case-by-case basis. Residents will be able to apply to rent the new units, but will not be given any preferential treatment, he said.

Peter Cassel, Antheus Capital director [sic] said he wasn't aware of any demands by tenants, but added that the company believes that "the agreement has the right amount of time: 30 days." Cassel said the firm plans to renovate the interior of the building into 109 rental units. Of those, 30 percent would be for low-income housing. The exterior of the building and the ballroom, which was renovated in recent years, will remain intact to preserve their historical value, he said. The project is expected to be completed by the spring of 2012.

it is another new beginning for the 93-year-old building Louis Armstrong once called home. Originally a military hospital, the building became a destination for many jazz celebrities as one of the city's few integrated hotels. it had a barber and beauty shop, a tailor, a travel agency, a delicatessen and medical offices. The Show Lounge was one of the few places where African-Americans could go and "see their heroes," said Jitu Brown, education organizer for the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization.

In the 1960s and '70s, the hotel suffered as Kenwood businesses and residents left the area. Thousands of housing units in the areal immediately north of the hotel were lost to abandonment and demolition. By 1982 the Sutherland had become a decrepit transient hotel. It sat nearly empty until it was bought in 1989 and turned into low- and moderate-rent apartments by Heartland (then called Travelers and Immigrants Aid) and Oakwood Development Co. in a deal that received a city tax credit.

in the 1990s, Bowers and trumpeter Malachi Thompson tried to bring back some of the Sutherland's musical glory. They formed the Sutherland Community Arts Initiative and, with the help of federal empowerment zone funds, hosted jazz concerts at the Sutherland. "If we succeed at the Sutherland--which we will--maybe we'll be able to help turn this neighborhood back into a middle-class, working-class place," Thompson told Tribune critic Howard Reich in a 1997 interview.

In the 2000s, when the city's tax credit for the Sutherland expired, Heartland submitted an application to the city to refinance the property. Geer said the application was denied and informed the residents that Heartland intended to sell the building. Bowers, secretary of the Sutherland Tenants Council Association, said residents tried to partner with different organizations to buy the building, but no deal came through. Two years ago, Heartland entered negotiations with Antheus Capital, the current owner.

Jay Travis, executive director of Kenwood-Oakland Community Organization , said that in the past decade, the community has lost thousands of affordable apartments, displacing residents with long ties to the community. The building's sale means the loss of another 150-plus affordable units* [she] said. "The importance of the Sutherland is both its reach of history but also its affordability," Travis said.

Bowers still hasn't made a decision about new housing. Having worked hard to bring the music back to the Sutherland, it's hard to give up a dream. "I feel like I am at an extra inning in a baseball game and I'm down 1-0."

*The number depends in part on definition of affordable-- it assumes even the 30 percent will not be really affordable. If one assumes they will meet the city definition, then it's a loss of loss of 49 (154-109) + 76 market rate = a loss of 125 with 33 remaining affordable and larger than present units.

Apparently, one-third will be available to persons earning less than half the Chicagoland median income, although it is unclear to this page whether this is only through 2018.

Antheus granted the tenant requests, although it will proceed with eviction of those exceeding the new 90 days deadline.

In a letter to residents, Antheus announced moving, rental and relocation assistance; extension of the closing date to 90 days; and priority application for occupancy fees and move-in fee will be waived. KOCO remains unclear or unsatisfied over filing for possession being undertaken during the 90 days.

Peter Cassel is quoted in the Herald: "We have significant respect for the building's history, the residents' experiences of the building and the dignity associated with teh efforts to preserve and develop the Sutherland a a neighborhood asset."

Sutherland lawsuit seeks cash. Herald, May 18, 2011. By Sam Cholke. The portion against Antheus was dismissed May 16.

Former residents of the Sutherland Apartments filed a class-action lawsuit against previous and current owner for problems with security deposits. A notice was sent out last week to other former residents that may have experienced similar problems with the building owners.

Three former residents in September of 2010 claimed the pervious owner, the nonprofit Heartland Housing, did not pay interest on security deposits. The city requires landlords to hold security deposits in an interest-bearing account and pay out a set rate to residents each year. The tenants also claim they were not notified when their security deposits were transferred from the old owner to the new owner, Antheus Capital. Both claims are punishable by a fine of twice the amount of the original deposit to be paid to the tenant, plus any legal expenses.

The residents also claim that they were not given a copy of the Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance, which outlines the legal responsibilities of the landlord and renter. The claim is punishable by a $100 fine paid to the tenant.

The case remains in court and on May 4, Judge Sophia Hall agreed to delay the next court date until May 16.

The Sutherland was the site of repeated clashes over that last year between former tenants and the new and old owners. The tenants felt they were not treated fairly when the building was purchased and the new owner decided to clear the building before beginning a rehab. Michael Spinak of Spinak & Babcock is representing the former tenants.


5000 East End conversion

Hyde Park residents sue over conversion of co-op
By: Frank Kalman May 10, 2011. Chicago Real Estate Daily (.com)

A group of residents in a prominent Hyde Park residential cooperative have gone to court over a plan to convert the building into condominiums, alleging that the switch costs too much and will force them out of their apartments.


Because they can't pay their share of a “massive and unnecessary” $8.5-million special assessment, the residents face eviction from the 98-unit building at 5000 East End Ave., according to a lawsuit filed late last month. Built in the late 1920s, the 28-story tower was once the tallest building on Chicago's South Side, and former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun used to live there.


As a co-op, the building is also a rare species in the Chicago real estate world, where most high-rise dwellers either rent their units from a landlord or own them as condominiums. Popular during the pre-war high-rise boom in New York City, a co-op is a building in which residents own shares in a corporation, or cooperative, that owns the building and the shareholders lease their units from the corporation. The number of shares owned by each resident is typically based on the size of the person's unit.


But it can be tougher to sell and finance units in a co-op, depressing prices, one reason the residents in the Hyde Park building voted in March 2010 to convert to condos. The problem, according to the lawsuit, is what happened seven months later: The co-op's board approved the $8.5-million assessment, exceeding even the $7.9-million appraised value of the building.


To cover their share of the cost, the 10 residents who have sued the board would have to pay $63,867 to $176,017 each, the complaint says. The co-op won't transfer ownership of the units to the residents unless they pay and will pursue eviction if they don't, according to the complaint.


“Many of these residents are retired and living on fixed incomes and they were left with only one choice: pay these large amounts in a single lump sum that they could not afford or turn in their keys and walk away from their homes,” Dan Bronson, the residents' lawyer, says in a statement.


Some residents have already turned in their keys and moved out, he says.


The assessment is invalid because building's residents were not given a chance to vote on it, says the complaint, filed in Cook County Circuit Court. Instead of demanding a lump-sum payment from residents, the co-op board could have collected the money gradually through additional rental payments or monthly assessments, says Mr. Bronson, managing member at Bronson & Kahn LLC.


But the board's lawyer says the lawsuit is merely a feeble attempt by 10 residents to avoid their obligations. Howard Dakoff, partner at Chicago-based law firm Levenfeld Pearlstein LLC, says at least one of the residents suing has already converted, another is on the record voting in favor of the conversion and three others are delinquent on their rent payments.


“They want the benefit of living in a condo without paying for it,” Mr. Dakoff says.


More than 58% of the building's residents have already converted their units to a condo, he says.


Co-ops never really caught on in Chicago the way they did on the East Coast — Mr. Dakoff's firm estimates that only about 30 to 50 high-rise co-ops exist in the area today — and they are a relatively antiquated real estate model, says Tricia Fox, a residential broker with Tricia Fox Group.


“The least liquid part of real estate is a co-op,” says Ms. Fox, who isn't involved in the lawsuit.



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Ann S. wrote:
Interesting, Jack. For some life will move on to the soup pantry or the homeless shelter while others affiliated will get rich. I find it interesting also, Jack, that when you have the option to turn in your keys, there's a developer waiting to take the unit off your hands and flip it for a cool $200K profit (profiteer) PER UNIT. What the article failed to mention was the fact that this developer who's under contract with the coop's Board of Directors just so happens to be the nephew of one of the Board members. I ask who gets the profit in the end when some will go homeless? Rahm Emanuel is sworn in next week. Perhaps this should be on his agenda for his first month in office or better yet, let him turn it over to his new State's Attorney department, or his new buildings department director. I'm sure many departments would find avenues of interest with this twist.
5/11/2011 7:06 PM CDT on Chicago Real Estate Daily
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Mary Ellen W. wrote:
As a Hyde Parker, I know a bit about this building. They recently posted a larger than life score board in their lobby naming each unit and its conversion status. In addition to being an affront to personal privacy and a deter ant to prospective buyers, it clearly demonstrates that Mr. Dakoff is a bit over zealous in his assessment. 57 units are either converted or "in process." One wonders what would happen if all or many of the remaining 41 were to default? It is also a shame that Mr. Dakoff is commenting on the status of individual situations. As an attorney, one would think that he would honor their privacy.
5/11/2011 4:32 PM CDT on Chicago Real Estate Daily
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Jim P. wrote:
Jack K, I can assure you that I am no liberal, but I cannot imagine what one's political views have to do with this matter.
5/11/2011 10:50 AM CDT on Chicago Real Estate Daily
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Karen M. wrote:
Dear Jack K.
Karma's a hard mistress. It's so easy for any of us - no matter how secure you think you are - to have it all fall apart. (think Madoff investors.) Hopefully you will find that out some day, soon.
5/11/2011 10:05 AM CDT on Chicago Real Estate Daily
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Daniel P. wrote:
$8.5MM for what? Did the building have outstanding loans that needed to be paid off? The paperwork for this kind of conversion would probably be $20-$24k. That number makes no sense.
5/10/2011 10:28 PM CDT on Chicago Real Estate Daily
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Britta W. wrote:
This is a very sad way to lose your home. It is unfortunate that the market has caused so many to have to deal with situations like this, after investing so much into a home. The elderly on a fixed income, should not be expected to pay such high assessments. Anyone who thinks otherwise, may want to think again...because it can also happen to you.
5/10/2011 8:51 PM CDT on Chicago Real Estate Daily
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Jack K. wrote:
Life moves on folks, your liberal views aren't worth the powder to blow them to hell! Pay up or hit the bricks.

_____________________________

Retirement of Conino is end of an era in making owners shape up

SECC's Mickey Conino retires. Did much to preserve, rescue HP housing, businesses

Herald, June 15, 2011

After 36 years, housing advocate Mickey conino is retiring from the South East Chicago Commission. "It was a wonderful job from the day I walked inhere," Conino said in a interview June 10. "It's wonderful to walk away from a job after 36 years and be able to say that."

Conino started as executive assistant to Julian Levy in 1975 at the commission, and in 1985 took over for Helaine billings as assistant director for housing. In teh new position, it was Conino's job to chase down problem property owners in the neighborhood and convince them to shape up.

"There were lots of buildings that had all kinds of code adn building violations, drugs, gang activity," said SECC President shirley Newsome of the neighborhood when Conino took over for Billings. Without Conino, "we would probably have a bunch of rundown buildings, with who knows what kind of criminal activity in these buildings," she said. Conino said the university created a "captive audience" for rental units and landlords would take advantage of the renters and the buildings. It was her job to do something about it.

"We had just determined that the city was having a difficult time with their program to take action against owners that were not taking care of their property," Conino said. Her job at the SECC was to goad building inspectors to take a look at troubled properties and them follow up in court to make sure the owners fixed the problem. One problem building Conino remembers was on the 5400 block of South Blackstone Avenue. The owner decided to put an addition on his house and instead of going through the city to get permits, he just built it himself. "Persevering in court, we actually got the owner to remove the addition," Conino said. "We were stunned we were able to accomplish that."

Conino was also instrumental in cleaning up West Hyde Park, which was plagued with rundown buildings in the mid-80s. With the city backing them up with targeted prosecutions, Conino and the SECC dragged problem owners into court in droves. Faced with the raft of owners at once, the judge could not deny the pattern of disinvestment, ruling against the owners. It was a big victory for Conino.

She admitted those victories came at a different time in th city, back when residents had more time to help her chase down the problems of Hyde Park. "When I came to work here, society was just different. Now, everyone's working. We used to be able to have community meetings. Now it's hard to get a community meeting going because people don't have the time they used to," Conino said. "I can still communicate with people about buildings when they're at work and I can go to court and represent their concerns and report back to them."

"I don't think anyone cand o [Conino] justice going forward," Newsome said. "She's just an all around ideal employee -- we're going to miss her terribly." Conino wil be moving to Springfield, Mo., to spend more time with her family. "We owe her a debt of gratitude," Newsome said.

TLC (Higgenbotham) buys Flamingo and Versailles from the Irmco portfolio. Tenants in Flamingo riled.

TLC paid 29M for Flamingo. Tenants formed an organization (though with modest participation, after door security was replaced with a buzzer system. After complaints, some physical presence was restored. Tenants say it's still unsafe and they moved in expecting a higher level. Also, downstairs hospitality spaces are now used with storage. There is also reduced in-house management and less (on call) maintenance staff. Management is said to not communicate with tenants and threaten eviction when they complain. They have sought legal advice.