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Lathrop residents pray for preservation

Residents of Lathrop Homes, joined by religious leaders, are planning to march through the threatened CHA development Thursday night, stopping to pray for the preservation of their historic neighborhood.

They’re concerned that as CHA seals off sections of the development, buildings will deteriorate.  They’re calling on CHA to maintain the condition of vacant units.

CHA recently signed a $1.1 million loan agreement with a development team selected last year over the objections of Lathrop resident leadership.  The contract has not yet been made public, said John McDermott of Logan Square Neighborhood Association, which is working with residents in the Lathrop Leadership Team.

CHA was recently challenged for its high rate of vacant units, at a time when its Plan For Transformation is stalled.  The agency responded that “off-line” units are not to be counted as vacant, though some have been off-line for years, in some cases following rehab.

Insistence on including market-rate housing in Lathrop’s redevelopment would hold up work for years in the current climate, McDermott said.  And it would be “missing the forest for the trees,” he said.

In its approach to developing mixed-income housing, CHA focuses “on a micro scale within their developments” but misses “the real historical barriers to breaking down poverty tied to Chicago’s history of racial segregation,” he said.

“Are we really breaking up concentrations of poverty if we insist on sharply limiting the number of low- and moderate-income families that can access jobs, schools, and shopping in an economically thriving North Side community?” he asked.  “Or are we really reinforcing larger patterns of segregation and patterns of gentrification and displacement?”

He points out that Lathrop is located “in a part of the city that has seen tremendous displacement of African American and Latino families and a dramatic loss of affordable housing.”

In his first press conference last month, new CHA chieef Charles Woodyard said that “given the bare reality of this real estate market” CHA would have to “be outside-the-box thinkers” to turn “our current assets…into real housing opportunities.”

He was asked what “outside the box” meant, but Mayor Emanuel stepped to the microphone in front of him before he could answer, the Sun Times reported.

But the CHA’s biggest “box” – particularly given a housing market that shows no signs of recovery – is the agency’s strict insistence on a formula of one-third market, one-third affordable, and one-third public housing in redevelopments.

Lathrop residents say it isn’t appropriate there.  Their prayers will be heard – but will their plan ever be considered?

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Category: housing, public housing

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