Woodlawn Is Finally Getting Help, But Is It Too Little Too Late?

Two separate initiatives are slated to address the blight of foreclosures and address the issue of affordable housing in “sub-sections” of Woodlawn.

Locally, Mayor Emanuel has announced that the city will pilot the Micro Market Recovery program that will ” bring new ownership to 2,500 foreclosed homes over the next few years using up to $20 million in loans provided by the John T. and Catherine D. MacArthur Foundation.”

That makes me nervous.

The following statement didn’t help the unsettled feeling in my stomach:

” The city hopes to use the money to “foster the reoccupation” — either by assisting homeowners under water, rehabilitating foreclosed homes and providing “multiple incentive programs” to potential buyers or by providing financing to “approved developers” who will market the units themselves.”

Foster the reoccupation?  Multiple incentive programs?  Approved developers?

As many questions as I have swimming in my head, ultimately the question that needs to be answered is how will this program not dissolve into the old status quo?  That is to say, what built in safeguards are there to insure that the properties won’t fall into the hands of “investors” that will turn around and then go for the quick Section 8 buck?

‘Cause we all know how well that’s worked out in the past.

Then there’s the case of the Grove Parc redevelopment with the non-profit group Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH) as the lead developer.

Grove Parc Plaza is a 504 unit 12 acre Section 8 housing development that’s located on Cottage Grove between 61st and 63rd Streets.  A few of the buildings have already been torn down and new ones stand in their place but the wholesale redevelopment is slowly progressing.

The redevelopment has been a hot topic of conversation at the 63rd Street Metra electric line station.  What seems to be on everyone’s mind is how this new community of “mixed income” housing is going to be any different (aside from new buildings) than what’s there now?

In short, are the powers that be rebuilding a new ghetto?

Because, make no mistake, it is a ghetto.

When the post office down the street (which also happens to be my local post office), has to have bullet proof glass between the clerks and the customer, that has all of the earmarks of a ghetto.

I don’t see middle class people plunking down hard earned money every month to willingly live next door to people who don’t have to commit the same level of investment.

Moreover a component of the redevelopment mentions “retail shops.”

Really?   I’m extremely interested what business is going to invest in a location on the new site of a former Section 8 housing development.

I can almost predict the litany of potential retailers:

Currency Exchange



A Beauty Supply

A Dollar Store (which I’m a big fan of)

Cricket or some cell phone store

Chinese Kitchen

Foot Locker

Game Stop

I guess I just don’t see how this new infusion of money to Woodlawn is going to dramatically change around the fortunes of the neighborhood.  Frankly speaking, I see the money going to line the pockets of everyone but the people it’s supposed to help.

Then there’s the issue that some people have with the folks at the Preservation of Affordable Housing.

Some would say that the concerns of all of the community isn’t being taken into consideration.  That more of the same is being pushed down Woodlawn’s throat.

But there is seemingly a small but vocal minority that isn’t taking these changes lying down or at face value.


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  • If nothing else the pictures show a big aesthetic improvement over the current buildings. Maybe the project will attract a UofC crowd priced out of sections of Hyde Park. The location is very convenient to the medical campus.

  • West looper is right this area won't change until u get more middle class people. People have to get priced ot of hyde park, which will happen with the new development of 53rd street which will includea whole foods . They will either move here or kenwood. The section 8 program is a huge problem. Luckily congress is planning to reduce its funding.

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