Don’t let CHA sidestep its pledge to use land to build public housing

The City Council approved the Chicago Fire soccer team’s plan to build a practice facility on CHA-owned land on the West Side.

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Ald. Jeanette Taylor (20th) likely said it best as she watched her colleagues approve a multi-million dollar training center for the Chicago Fire soccer team on West Side land originally set aside for public housing:

“The [Chicago Housing Authority’s] Plan for Transformation has failed,” she said.

Is there any other way to look at it?

The City Council voted 36 to 11 Wednesday to allow the privately-owned soccer team to build an $80 million training center on 26 acres of CHA-owned land bounded by Roosevelt Road, Ashland Avenue, 14th Street and Loomis Street.

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The vote adds insult to a very old injury. The CHA’s Plan for Transformation, launched in 2000, has fallen years — if not decades — behind on its promise to build new mixed-income communities that would include public housing residents.

As a result of this backlog, the CHA sits on acres of undeveloped land where new housing is supposed to be built. At least 30,000 people are on its waitlist for a place to live.

The Chicago Fire soccer facility will be good for the community, its aldermanic supporters said during the City Council meeting.

Perhaps. The potential is there. But honoring the promise to build housing there would have been far better.

CHA giving up on providing housing for ‘most vulnerable’?

The bright spot here is that the land, part of the old ABLA Homes site that was demolished in 2007, won’t be just given away to build the soccer facility.

The Chicago Fire will pay the CHA $8 million up front, then nearly $800,000 a year in rent under a 40-year lease that has two 10-year renewal options.

The site’s alderperson, Jason Ervin (28th), said the plan has the support of those living nearby.

And although the facility is just a portion of the former ABLA’s undeveloped acreage, it can’t be lost that the land was set aside for housing and already should have been used for that.

According to the Chicago Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights, the CHA and developer Related Midwest have built only 245 of the 775 housing units pledged for the ABLA site, which has been rebranded Roosevelt Square.

“We have an agency, the Chicago Housing Authority, that is supposed to provide housing for the most vulnerable, and instead of building housing they want to give that land to a soccer team,” Rod Wilson, executive director of the Lugenia Burns Hope Center, an affordable housing advocate, told WTTW and ProPublica last June.

“It seems that the CHA wants to get out of the business of providing quality …read more

Source:: Chicago Sun Times


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