On February 5th, this happened:
According to my neighbors in West Woodlawn, their blocks are full of poorly managed properties with neglectful landlords who do little to no tenant screening.
The main reason why I and my neighbors have a decent quality of life in our part of East Woodlawn is that we are lucky enough to have Mt. Carmel across the street. Their campus takes up a city block and many of the buildings that were there previously were demolished to make room for their athletic fields.
The fact that we have four condo buildings on our block along with three others that are held by long time owners has helped keep most of the crime and quality of life issues at bay. Luckily, the problems that plague surrounding blocks, hasn't establishing a too much of a strong hold on our street.
We live in a city and we live on the south side; of course bad apples are going to slip through the cracks. Yes, you still have to watch your back but I can confidently say that we ain't West Woodlawn.
Yet it's a delicate balance. Depending on what landlord did or didn't do their due diligence, things can go spinning out of control at the drop of a hat.
In the thirteen years that I've lived here, I've never seen gang graffiti affiliated with my street until the fall of 2013. Additionally, I had never seen the blatant distribution of weed to high school drug dealers until around that same time.*
Those are the real consequences of what can happen with the wrong tenant choice in a building. Can you imagine if a groups of well meaning affordable housing advocates bring their philosophies over to East Woodlawn?
I predict nothing but disaster.
And let me be clear---poverty or need does not equal crime and lawlessness. I have no problem with properly managed buildings of renters no matter their economic status. What I have a problem with is shitty tenant screening and building owners not being accountable to the community.
I can confidently say that neither I nor my neighbors have any problem bringing problem tenants---and in some cases owners---to the proper authorities attention.
Why would you think that as hard as I've worked to buy my home and to save it, that I would want to live next door to someone without the same work ethic and sense of community responsibility? Why would you think I want to live next door to someone who literally cleans out their car on the parkway of their house and thinks that nothing is wrong with doing that?*
What this post is about is the potential and very real possibility of expanding affordable housing in a neighborhood that has already done it's fair share to ensure that our fellow Chicagoans are housed.
I'll admit it, I don't have a high trust factor when it comes to either public or subsidized housing in our fair city. I don't care if the organization is homegrown or from Boston. The historic lack of accountability, oversight and transparency in Chicago subsidized and affordable housing cannot be ignored or minimized.
I and everyone else in East Woodlawn have cause for concern.
*Those are true stories, by the way.
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