Retail giant Target has its arrow pointed at the former site of the Cabrini Green public housing complex as a place to potentially set up shop -- and the corporation is using job creation as the bait for community support. Target has agreed to set aside 38 percent of the estimated 200 jobs that the proposed 150,000 square-foot, three-floor store would demand for public housing residents.
But what type of jobs would be set aside for the estimated 75 public housing residents? And would these jobs put them on a path that leads away from the poverty level and closer to the middle class?
Not so much, if the Chicago Reporter's analysis of the South Loop Target's impact is any indictator. At that location, 53 percent of the staff makes less than $15,000 per year, according to the analysis. Additionally, only 8 percent of those who work at the South Loop Target make more than $40,000 per year. Positions at that salary level are likely to be those in management. Unfortunately, Target refused to allocate any management positions as part of the deal to set aside a certain number of jobs for public housing residents.
"It was a discussion point as we negotioated the deal," Kellie O'Connell Miller, CHA''s vice-president of strategic planning and public affairs, told the Sun-Times. "One of the biggest successes of CHA's Plan for Transormation is moving residents towards self-sufficency."
But it's hard to see how someone could be self-sufficient on a salary in the mid-teens. Add that to the fact that 1 in 3 Chicago-area renters are "severely burdened" by housing costs and it becomes difficult to see how this plan could be the "potential start of an economic boom for Cabrini Green" as Ald. Walter Burnett (27th Ward) recently suggested.