Central Advisory Council – Chicago Newstips by Community Media Workshop http://www.newstips.org Chicago Community Stories Mon, 14 Jul 2014 17:31:05 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.4.12 Emanuel’s CHA plan challenged http://www.newstips.org/2013/05/emanuels-cha-plan-challenged/ Thu, 16 May 2013 00:13:42 +0000 http://www.newstips.org/?p=7206 UPDATED – While Cabrini Row House residents prepare to challenge CHA plans for mixed-income development, CHA resident leaders and housing advocates are questioning Mayor Emanuel’s update to the agency’s Plan For Transformation.

The Cabrini-Green Local Advisory and supporters will hold a press conference Thursday morning (May 16 at 9:30 a.m., 530 W. Locust) to announce “a new initiative to protect the Carini Row Houses,” according to a release from the Legal Assistance Foundation.

Row House residents have called on CHA to fulfill the promise in the original PFT to rehabilitate the development as 100 percent public housing; that plan was put on hold in 2011.

Meanwhile, resident leaders and community organizations called on the CHA board to reject the mayor’s plan and return to the drawing board — and to heed input from the public, including an emphasis on preservation and rehab of existing units rather than subsidizing private development as the most cost-effective way to meet CHA’s obligations.

The Central Advisory Council, comprised of elected leaders of CHA developments, criticized the mayor’s plan for lacking specifics on how CHA will complete construction of replacement housing and ensure families of their right to return to homes they were displaced from.

Few proposals from CAC’s detailed Strategies and Recommendations Report issued last year were incorporated in the mayor’s plan, the group said.

They called for reforming security programs which “harass law-abiding residents” but fail to make developments safe, and for elected representation for public housing residents living in mixed-income developments.

The Chicago Housing Initiative, consisting of community organizations representing tenants of subsidized housing, challenged Emanuel’s claim that 85 percent of the PFT’s promised 25,000 replacement units have been provided.  With thousands of rehabbed units remaining vacant, “the number [of occupied replacement units] is closer to 18,000,” said Leah Levinger of CHI.

Last year the group revealed that CHA receives millions of dollars in operating funds from HUD for units it has failed to lease out.

Under pressure from HUD, CHA has begun leasing vacant units in scattered-site housing, but in some cases the agency is limiting it to residents making 50 to 80 percent of area median income, Levinger said.  One speaker yesterday was a Wal-Mart worker turned away from public housing for not having a high enough income to live in public housing.

Levinger drew parallels between the Emanuel’s plan to step up investment in private developments and the parking meter privatization deal.  The PFT’s mixed-income developments have been a “massive transfer of assets to private control,” at great benefit to private developers but with little advantage to taxpayers and the public.

Typical “public-private partnerships” involve 95 percent public financing, no developer equity, and millions of dollars in up-front development fees, she said. In return, private developers control the land with a 99-year lease, while affordability agreements only extend for 15 to 30 years.

And according to CHI, public-private mixed-income records have a poor record of meeting housing production goals.  At seven development where over 5,000 units were promised by developers, less than half were ever provided.

The CAC and CHI are calling for preserving and renovating existing public housing stock, including Lathrop Homes, Cabrini Row Houses, Altgeld Gardens and West Haven Homes, and rebuilding housing for displaced families at Ickes Homes, LeClaire Courts, Cabrini-Green, and the State Street corridor.

 

UPDATE – CHA has issued the following statement:

“As part of Chicago Housing Authority’s new strategic initiative, ‘Plan Forward: Communities that Work,’ CHA is committed to building strong, vibrant communities throughout Chicago. Currently, the agency is working with a planner and the Near North Working Group to develop a plan for the future of Cabrini, including the row homes. However, CHA has not announced any decision on the future of the row homes. In the coming months, CHA will invite CHA residents and area neighbors to provide their input on our proposed plan for the revitalization of Cabrini. Our goal is to increase the quality of life and economic opportunities for CHA residents and the entire community.”

A previous version gave an incorrect time for Thursday’s press conference.

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New rules for CHA demolitions http://www.newstips.org/2012/11/new-rules-for-cha-demolitions/ Thu, 29 Nov 2012 00:21:48 +0000 http://www.newstips.org/?p=6787 New HUD regulations could make it much harder for CHA to get approval to demolish housing at Altgeld Gardens, Lathrop Homes, and Cabrini Row Houses, according to a veteran housing attorney who helped negotiate the change.

HUD issued a notice in February (PIH 2012-7) requiring public housing authorities claiming that units are “obsolete” must demonstrate that no reasonable program of repair is feasible, said Bill Wilen of the Shriver National Center on Poverty Law.  It also requires environmental and civil rights reviews, he said.

A HUD regulation governing the matter is expected to be issued early next year.

Previously, applications for demolition were routinely approved by HUD’s Special Application Center, located in Chicago, including applications that clearly failed to meet statutory requirements, Wilen said.  Rejections of demolition applications by the center have increased significantly in recent months, he said.

Five years ago Wilen successfully challenged HUD’s approval of demolition of public housing in Rockford, one of several legal battles that he said informed an effort by the national Housing Justice Network to get HUD to tighten up its regulations.

There are other possible legal grounds to challenge CHA demolitions. The agency’s annual contract with HUD requires CHA to maintain units that it plans to demolish eventually.  Instead, like many other public housing authorities, CHA allows housing to become deteriorated and then claims it must be demolished as “obsolete,” according to advocates.

Altgeld and Lathrop

At Altgeld Gardens, residents are gearing up for a CHA town hall meeting Thursday (November 29, 6 p.m., at the Community Building, 951 E. 132nd Place) to get community input on plans for their development.

In October, CHA submitted an annual plan with $7.3 million designated for “planning for demolition” of 648 units at Altgeld.  People For Community Recovery is organizing against demolition.

At Lathrop, six scholars of public housing policy, including Mary Patillo of Northwestern, published an opinion piece in the Skyline noting CHA’s “decade of indecision, occasional promises, conflicting information, organizational amnesia, and changing leadership.”

“It’s time to open up a real and transparent democratic and participatory process at Lathrop,” they write.

A development team selected by CHA recently proposed three scenarios for Lathrop, each including demolition of from half to all of the development’s public housing.  Lathrop Homes was listed on the National Register of Historic Places earlier this year.

CAC recommendations

On Friday morning, the Central Advisory Council of CHA, representing resident leaders from across the city, will present their recommendations for revising CHA’s Plan For Transformation, followed by discussion by a panel of stakeholders (Friday, November 20, 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at UIC Student Center East, 750 S. Halsted, room 302).

Issued this summer, the CAC’s recommendations call on CHA to focus on preservation and rehabilitation of existing CHA units over more expensive new construction; redevelop housing such as Lathrop and Cabrini, located in areas with large inventories of market-rate housing, using a mix of affordable and public housing; and establish a long-term capital improvement plan.

They call for adjusting CHA’s work requirement to account for high unemployment; establishing an independent monitor over federal requirements that CHA contractors hire residents; and instituting a business development strategy to promote resident-owned businesses including worker-owned cooperatives.

The CAC also calls for reassessing of the role of Business and Professional People in the Public Interest in decision-making at Cabrini and Lathrop, where BPI has opposed redevelopment plans that don’t include market housing.  BPI’s involvement goes back to the Gautreaux case, first filed in 1966.

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‘Planning for demolition’ at Altgeld Gardens http://www.newstips.org/2012/10/planning-for-demolition-at-altgeld-gardens/ http://www.newstips.org/2012/10/planning-for-demolition-at-altgeld-gardens/#comments Thu, 18 Oct 2012 01:05:51 +0000 http://www.newstips.org/?p=6698 Over objections from residents – and despite assurances that residents will be consulted – CHA is submitting an annual plan to HUD that includes $7.3 million for “planning for demolition” of one-third of the public housing units at Altgeld Gardens.

The move comes as the citywide CHA resident leaders’ organization has called for a moratorium on demolition and for rehabbing unoccupied units at Altgeld and at other remaining traditional developments.

It comes as the need for low-income housing continues to grow, while CHA public housing production has slowed dramatically, and the city produces a handful of low-income units annually under its affordable housing plan.

And it comes as housing activists who’ve exposed CHA’s receipt of HUD operating funds for unoccupied housing units are revealing a new no-strings funding stream from HUD – capital subsidies which continue for years for units that have been demolished.

Plan first, talk later

On Tuesday, the CHA board approved the annual plan under HUD’s Moving To Work program.  According to the plan: “After reassessing future developments needs at [Altgeld Gardens and Murray Homes], CHA has determined that it will undertake planning for the demolition of the remaining 648 non-rehabilitated unoccupied units.”

CHA has budgeted $7.3 million for “planning for demolition” at Altgeld, according to the document.  Rehab of 1,300 units at the Far South Side development was completed in 2010.

Last week People for Community Recovery, an organization of Altgeld residents, received assurance from CHA chief Charles Woodyard that no demolition would occur prior to a community planning process, scheduled to kick off with a town hall meeting next month.  Woodyard responded after the group handed Mayor Emanuel a letter asking him to intervene to save Altgeld’s housing, said Cheryl Johnson, executive director of PCR.

“It would be more reassuring for us if they took [funding for demolition] out of the plan,” she said.

“It’s backwards,” said Leah Levinger of the Chicago Housing Initiative, a coalition of community organizations working with tenants in federally-backed housing.  “Why not have the conversation first, before you submit a plan to HUD?”

“There’s no evidence these buildings are not structurally sound or that it’s not cost effective to rehab,” she added.  “Until there is, demolition seems senseless and wasteful.”

Moratorium

The CHA’s Central Advisory Council, comprising elected representatives of public housing developments, calls for a moratorium on demolition in a recent report outlining recommendations for the current “recalibration” of CHA’s Plan for Transformation.

Citing decreases in federal funding and a growing shortage of low-income housing, CAC calls on CHA to prioritize preservation of public housing, “specifically rehabilitation and reconfiguration of existing CHA units.”  Rehab is significantly more cost-effective and involves far fewer development hurdles, CAC notes.

CAC president Myra King was the only CHA commissioner to vote against the MTW plan Tuesday.

Among many other recommendations, CAC calls for completing rehabilitation of Altgeld Gardens, along with the Cabrini Rowhouses and Lathrop Homes.  Given the housing market crash, it calls for developing mixed-income communities consisting of affordable and public housing.

The report notes the growing need for affordable and low-income housing.  In 2009, 54 percent of Chicago tenants were rent-burdened, 19 percent more than in 1999, when CHA launched its Plan for Transformation.  With current trends, the proportion of rent-burdened households could be as high as 63 percent by 2020.

The majority of rent-burdened households, at risk of homelessness, are extremely low-income, making less than $20,000 a year, CAC notes.  These are the families CHA should be serving.

Huge housing shortage

Meanwhile, the shortage of affordable housing is growing. In 2009 it was estimated at 130,000 units, up 10 percent in just four years.  One new factor: between 2009 and 2011, 17,000 apartment buildings with 52,000 units went into foreclosed.

Of course, there’s the 60,000 on CHA waiting lists — and the many more who applied to the limited waiting list slots.

On top of that, as Steve Bogira has reported in the Chicago Reader, poverty rates continue to grow in Chicago.  Child poverty is up to 35.8 percent this year, and more than one in ten Chicagoans living in extreme poverty, with incomes less than half the federal poverty level.

The Tribune reports that low-wage sectors are growing while high-paying industries continue to shed jobs, and a recent report from the Action Now Institute and Women Employed found that nearly a third of Chicagoans work low-wage jobs, not paid enough to cover basic necessities.

Given all that, it’s not surprising that 97,000 Chicagoans, including some 15,000 CPS students, were homeless at some point last year, according to the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless.  And as the Chicago Reporter recently documented, Chicago’s homeless include people who are on CHA’s waiting list.

Still, Chicago can afford to sacrifice 648 units of low-income housing at Altgeld, and possibly hundreds more at Cabrini and Lathrop.  How do those numbers stack up against affordable housing production here – and against the shortfall of 130,000 affordable units?

Housing production has slowed to a trickle at CHA – in part because the agency has stopped rehabbing traditional developments.  Next year CHA projects adding 345 units to its portfolio; last year it planned for 200 new units.

(That doesn’t include project-based vouchers, which HUD has allowed CHA to count toward its housing production since 2010.  Advocates point out that public housing units guarantee decades of low-income housing, while vouchers involve shorter-term contracts with private landlords.)

Net loss

In 2011, the last year for which final numbers are available, CHA produced 432 new public housing units and demolished 909 units.

How about the city’s affordable housing plan?  Last year the city reported producing 2,054 new multifamily affordable housing units, separate from ongoing state rental subsidies.  But according to the Chicago Rehab Network’s analysis, very few of these were for low-income families.

Only 14 of those units were affordable for families with incomes below 30 percent of the area median income.  An additional 43 were affordable for families with incomes between 31 and 50 percent of AMI.

Under its plan to end homelessness, meanwhile, the city averaged about 325 units of permament supportive housing a year over the past decade.

With numbers like these, you’d need a compelling reason to tear down 648 potentially habitable units – especially when community members oppose the demolition, as scores of Altgeld residents made very clear at the CHA’s hearing on its annual plan last month.

CHI has charged that CHA has a deliberate policy of limiting and reducing public housing populations in order to reduce its legal obligation to provide replacement housing in communities slated for redevelopment.  Previously CHI revealed that thousands of habitable units are kept vacant by CHA — and under a special arrangement dating to the start of the Plan for Transformation, HUD operating subsidies continue to flow to units whether they’re occupied or not.

Now CHI has uncovered evidence that HUD continues to provide tens of millions of dollars in capital subsidies for units that have been demolished.  The money is supposed to fund replacement housing, but there are no reporting requirements and no requirements for specific numbers of units delivered in specific time periods, Levinger said.

“It’s yet another ill-defined funding stream,” she said.  “It’s a lot of dollars with no strings.”

According to CHI, in 2011 CHA received $39 million in capital funding for units that had been demolished, some years earlier.

“CHA could demolish 648 units at Altgeld and get [capital] dollars for the next ten years, at the same level they got while [the properties] were standing, and never spend that money – and nobody at HUD would bat an eye,” Levinger said.

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