Recently, I ran across a post on Everyblock and it was another post from a group claiming to represent a community that wants to engage in social engineering. The post was made by a group/individual under the name of Woodlawn Home Owners(WHO). The group alledges that they represent the homeowners of the Woodlawn community.
The Woodlawn community is a predominantly African American community on the southside of Chicago. Woodlawn is two communities north of Chatham and borders the Park Manor community. The community was seriously damaged as the result of riots after the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.The community saw signs of gentrification in the 1990's through 2005 until the housing bubble burst. The community saw non-profit developers such as The Woodlawan Organization, St. Edmunds Redevelopment Corp purchase and rehab multifamily buildings and provide affordable housing as well as private developers erect new construction of single family and multiunit condos.
Once the real estate market collapsed the community saw a rise in foreclosures on single family homes, condos and multifamily properties. Many of the properties were owned by investors who walked away because they were unable to secure funds to rehab the properties. Properties owned by individual owners became rental units to the dismay of their neighbors and condo associations. Also, the community saw the Grove Park Apartments go into disrepair. The 500+ unit development that runs along Cottage Grove from 61st to 63rd was once a desirable development but fell upon hard times from management neglect to the point that the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) pulled the property from its approved list and made it ineligible for subsidies that keep rents at below market rates. The building has new management, Preservation Housing Management, who has and is making improvements to the development. Recently, the former president of TWO, Rev. Leon Finney has come under fire from allegations that he has acted as a slumlord and has defrauded housing organizations out of money with inflated invoices for services not rendered.
This summer, Woodlawn has seen more than its fair share of the senseless violence that has plagued all of Chicago. The increase in violence has prompted WHO to propose a plan. They consider it on the same line of the Chicago Housing Authority "Plan for Transformation". The "Plan for Transformation" major component was the demolition of the State Street housing project corridor and give tenants vouchers to find housing throughout the city from private property owners. Many communities complain that the residents who relocated from the State Street corridor as well as those who are in the housing choice voucher program (Section 8) were reeking havoc on their neighborhoods. Many communities have sat down with CHA to discuss the abuses of the program and how to deal with them.
The WHO plan is based on the following assumption:
With HUD/CHA now controlling 52% of all housing in Woodlawn will this community survive? Studies show when you reach 20% your community become de-invested and blighted. How long will homeowners put up with: High Crime, Zero Decent Shops, Abundance of Trash, Rude Residents.
If you take their statement which they state was verbally represented by HUD representatives but I could not verify from any source it would mean that over 10,000 of the approximate 20,000 residents of Woodlawn receive some form of housing subsidy from HUD programs. They feel that if approximately 3,200 families who allegedly receive subsidies be forced to relocate to other communities that the violence in Woodlawn would decrease and property values and private investment would increase.
So I had to ask where would these families go? The answer was:
Chicago has 77 communities they must be evenly balanced between them to prevent re-concentrating the poor together.
This way they can take advantage of a health community and make real strive towards changing their circumstances.
The goal is not to keep them in poverty the goal is to help them lift themselves out of poverty.
The "Black Community" is the only community that hasn't figured this out yet, for all of our so-called education we are clue-less, while others fight and gain advantages over this mess.
Again, I had to ask questions such as "Will other communities have a say?", "Who will decide who has to move?", "What happens to the empty building"? "What if someone doesn't want to move"? There were no answers to these questions. WHO has also started a petition to ask CHA to declare a moratorium on increasing the number of housing units eligible to receive subsidies.
I asked several community organization's representatives what they thought of the plan. They laughed and stated that this was the work of a mad scientist. I spoke to several legal experts who stated this was a clear violation of city, state and federal fair housing laws and no politician in his/her right mind would stand behind such a plan.
I frankly attribute this plan to buyer's remorse. When the developers were building and these buyers saw the prices they jumped.When the real estate agents told them that the neighborhood would change as a result of the properties being built or rehabbed as well as the University of Chicago would be building in the area, they bought it. Now that the real estate market has tanked and the $200,000 property is only worth $100,000 or less and condo owners are seeing rising assessments because of shoddy workmanship and foreclosures, you got to point fingers at someone.
So WHO solution is lets dump a perceived "problem" on other communities and I can get my property value up so I can sell and move on.
So do you like this plan for destruction or do you have another solution?
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Tags: 20th ward, 3rd district, 6th district, 6th ward, alderman, alderman cochran, apartmentments, CHA, chatham, chicago housing authority, chicago police department, city of chicago, fair housing laws, housing, housing cho, HUD, low income, park manor, pOAH, rehabbing, section 8, St. Edmunds redevelopment corp, the woodlawn organization, TWO, u.S. department of housing and urban development, university of chicago, woodlawn