Send tips to Community Media Worskhop
cmw@newstips.org
NEWSTIPS HOME | About | Follow on Twitter @ChicagoNewstips


Coalition questions G8 costs, calls for community investment

Costs for the G8/NATO summit in May could be much higher than current projections from the city, according to a labor-community coalition which is calling for a Chicago G8/NATO Community Fund.

“We think that $65 million is very, very, very low, and based on the experience of other host cities, the actual cost is going to be much higher,” said Elizabeth Parisian, a researcher with Stand Up Chicago.

She said the 2010 G8 summit in Huntsville, Ontario, ended up costing over $1 billion, the bulk of which went to security costs. Costs of housing, transportation and entertainment totaled about $180 million, she said.

Like the upcoming summit, the 2010 G8 was a joint summit (that year it was with the G20), and as expected for the upcoming summit, there were big protests.

Stand Up Chicago is working on developing a more detailed independent cost estimate, Parisian said, but getting information is difficult.

“There’s been no transparency from the city,” she said, adding that “we need to know how much it’s going cost and who’s contributing.”

Last week the Chicago Reader reported that a $55 million federal grant described by officials last year as funding planning for summit security training is actually a routine grant that supports the city’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications. Security cost estimates will not be released before the summit, OECM told the Reader.

Funding for community needs

In a letter to Mayor Emanuel last week, community, labor, and civil rights groups asked him to call on corporations contributing to the summit host committee to provide matching donations to a community fund “which can be used to keep libraries and mental health clinics open, as well as to provide direct investment in Chicago’s many struggling neighborhoods.”

Six mental health clinics are slated for closing in April for a cost savings of $2 million. Library hours were recently cut in order to save $1 million.

Read the rest of this entry »

Mental health cuts called callous, dangerous

For N’Dana Carter, the proposal to transfer patients from the city’s Beverly-Morgan Park Mental Health Center to the center in Roseland is emblematic of the “callousness” of the cutbacks in Mayor Emanuel’s proposed budget.

The Beverly Area Planning Agency and other community groups will rally against the closing of the center on Monday, November 14 from 3 to 6 pm. at 111th and Longwood.

“There’s nowhere else in our community to receive public mental health services,” said Matt Walsh, executive director of BAPA.  Closing the center “would be devastating to the most vulnerable members of our community.”

He adds: “This is people’s lives we’re dealing with here.”

“These are mainly white, mainly middle-aged ladies” going to the clinic, said Carter, an activist (who is African American) with the Mental Health Movement organized by Southside Together Organizing for Power.  They will stand out sharply in the black community of Roseland, on the opposite end of the city’s Far South Side, she said.

“Roseland is very dangerous.  It’s a war zone.  They are putting people in harm’s way.  It’s like putting a sign on their back saying ‘hurt me’.”

‘Too dangerous’

“It’s too dangerous; I would be risking my life to go there,” one Beverly resident and center client told the Beverly Review.

“We’re victims of violence fairly often,” said Fred Friedman, a mental health advocate with Next Steps.  Transferring Beverly patients to Roseland “is a very stupid thing,” he said.

It typifies the lack of concern for patients’ welfare – and for a wide range of costs –involved in closing six of the city’s twelve mental health clinics, advocates say.  The city says the closings will save $3.3 million out of the city’s $6 billion budget.

Read the rest of this entry »

Protest threat of city health clinic privatization

City clinic clients and community supporters will protest Tuesday against the threat of privatization at an event where Mayor Emanuel and Health Commissioner Bechara Choucair are speaking on “Transforming Healthcare in Chicago.”

Southside Together Organizing for Power and others – who stopped city efforts to close mental health clinics two years ago – will rally at 10 a.m., Tuesday, August 16, at the University Clulb, 76 E. Monroe.

Emanuel is said to be set to unveil a plan for the city’s health services next week [correction: it’s being released Tuesday, August 16].  In July he said he’d identified millions of dollars of savings by ordering city health clinics to partner with federally-qualified health centers, private nonprofits that operate clinics under federal grants and guidelines.

No details on how those savings would be accomplished have yet been forthcoming.

But last month, the city’s labor relations director wrote AFSCME Council 31 saying the city is considering contracting out services provided by its community health centers – and that job losses for union members could be expected.

Read the rest of this entry »

Mental health groups oppose cuts, privatization

Mental health activists concerned about potential service cuts and privatization will hold a town hall meeting Friday with Chicago Health Commissioner Bechara Choucair.

Mental health providers and consumers will join Choucair on a panel, Friday, August 5, 5:30 p.m., in the Joyce Auditorium of Mercy Hospital, 2525 S. Michigan, 2nd floor.

The groups are demanding to be included in a task force on city-county collaboration formed by Mayor Emanuel and County President Preckwinkle.

Read the rest of this entry »

Preserving Affordable Housing – South Side, West Side

As private and nonprofit developers on Chicago’s West Side undertake the largest rescue of troubled subsidized housing in the nation’s history, other community organizers are meeting to develop proactive strategies for low-income housing with subsidies nearing expiration.

[About 300 community activists – half of them tenants in buildings facing loss of their subsidies – attended the Chicago Rehab Network’s South Side Affordable Housing Summit on June 3 at King High School.]

Nearly three fourths of the 12,400 low-income units covered by rental subsidy contracts and mortgate assistance on the South Side could be lost in the next three years, said Leah Levinger of CRN.

The summit will focus on preservation tools including new state legislation which requires tenant notification when owners decide to end subsidies and gives tenant associations first option to purchase the property.

Logan Square Neighborhood Association organizers will discuss their recent victory using the law to save 54 units of project-based Section 8 housing.

In Woodlawn, the Student Tenant Organizing Project has blocked owners who sought to scare tenants into moving — counting on their ignorance of possible legal recourses — so they could convert subsidized buildings to condos “illegally,” said Della Moran. Tenants in several buildings there are now organizing so they can act to save affordability when contracts do expire.

Meanwhile the West Side’s Lawndale Restoration, the largest project-based Section 8 complex in the city, is being salvaged by a diverse group of developers, ranging from major nonprofits to local mom-and-pop landlords.

In late 2004 city inspectors found 1800 code violations in 100 buildings (with over a thousand Section 8 units) operated by Lawndale Restoration, after a car crash caused a partial cave-in at one building. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development began foreclosure proceedings against Lawndale Restoration, planning to “voucher out” tenants by shifting subsidies from the housing units themselves to vouchers carried by tenants.

Housing advocates consider project-based subsidies to be more stable and note that many voucher holders end up in poor housing in segregated neighborhoods.

Lawndale tenants organized by ACORN and represented by the Shriver Center on Poverty Law sued HUD, demanding that project-based subsidies be maintained. ACORN also brought tenants to meet with top HUD officials in Washington.

“Tenants fought tooth and nail for long-term subsidies,” said Marty Shaloo of ACORN Housing.

They were helped when Congress passed the Shumer Amendment to last year’s HUD appropriation, requiring the agency to show that housing would be available for tenants vouchered out of Section 8 buildings.

Then the city stepped in, working with the Community Investment Corp., a nonprofit that helps independent landlords provide affordable housing, to assemble 23 developers and transfer title to them.

Developers agreed to keep housing affordable and are eligible for up to $40,000 per unit in HUD rehab grants. All the units will keep their project-based subsidies for two years, and 400 units will get 20-year Section 8 contracts. ACORN is co-developing about 250 of those units.

Tenants wanted more units covered by long-term contracts, but getting as many as they did was “a huge victory” given HUD’s policy of shifting subsidies from projects to vouchers, said Shaloo.

At this point many Lawndale tenants are taking a wait-and-see attitude, said Kaitlyn Johnson of ACORN, which has organized tenants throughout the developments.

“They’ve been screwed around so long they don’t know what to believe,” said developer Sel Dunlop. Dunlap is redeveloping an 8-unit building and is one of a number of Lawndale developers meeting together to coordinate efforts.

“The conditions are very bleak and they’ve been that way for years,” said Richard Townsell of Lawndale Christian Development Corp. LCDC is taking on 79 units in 13 buildings with plans to help some tenants purchase their homes.

Developers have been meeting with tenants, and one has organized a bus tour of her current properties. “We put a face on the company they’re dealing with and let them know how the buildings we own are maintained,” said Johnnie Heron, who is acquiring 69 units in three buildings.

“The idea is to provide a quality of housing residents have never enjoyed before,” said Dunlop, who hopes for a “spillover effect” improving the “culture of our community.”

They’ll also bring stability to a neighborhood increasingly beset by real estate speculation by providing a place for longtime low-income residents to remain — the goal of housing advocates across the city.



Get Newstips in Your Inbox!

Enter your email address:


Subscribe in a reader

Newstips Archives

Categories

Add to Technorati Favorites

RSS Nonprofit Communicator

  • An error has occurred, which probably means the feed is down. Try again later.

RSS Chicago is the World

  • Telling people’s stories, an ethnic media success September 2, 2015
        By Stephen Franklin Community Media Workshop   A 3-year-old child died on a plane from Chicago to Poland. This, Magdalena Pantelis instantly knew, was a story her readers would care about. But she needed more detail to write about it for the Polish Daily News, the nation’s oldest daily newspaper in Polish, founded Jan. […]
*

*

*



*










CAN TV is a network that belongs to the people of Chicago.  For updates on local programs, and live, timely coverage of community events, sign up at http://www.cantv.org