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PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
6:26pm
Wed Feb 5, 2014

Chicago City Council Roundup: Aldermen OK $1.9 Billion In Borrowing; Ervin Wants A State Rep. To Resign

Progress Illinois provides a recap of Wednesday's Chicago City Council meeting.

Quick Hit
by Ashlee Rezin
10:48pm
Tue Jan 28, 2014

Housing Activists Call For Increased Oversight Of CHA, More Affordable Units (VIDEO)

The Chicago City Council’s Committee on Housing and Real Estate approved the 2014-2018 Five-Year Housing Plan on Tuesday, despite activists’ criticisms that the plan fails to ramp up oversight of the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) and therefore does not guarantee increased affordable housing units across the city. 

Implemented by the Department of Planning and Development (DPD), the housing plan outlines the city’s $1.3 billion investment in the construction, rehabilitation and preservation of more than 41,000 affordable housing units. It was passed by a 8 - 2 vote, with Alds. Scott Waguespack (32nd) and Nick Sposato (36th) voting against it. The plan will be considered by the full Chicago City Council on February 5.

But, according to members of the Chicago Housing Initiative (CHI), the city's plan should apply more pressure on the CHA to ensure the agency fills vacant public housing units, shrinks the housing wait list, which currently sits at more than 42,000 people, and replaces demolished public housing units.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
5:16pm
Thu Oct 31, 2013

Astor House Tenants Protest Building Conditions, Management As Original Renters Continue To Be Pushed Out

One the last remaining affordable housing tenants at the Astor House in Rogers Park saw support from a small group of activists who gathered outside the Daley Center Thursday morning prior to his eviction trial.

The tenant, Melvin Jennings, 58, lives in the 147-unit Astor House, which some say is one of the last affordable housing developments in the Rogers Park nighborhood on Chicago's far North Side.

Jennings moved into the Astor House, located at 1246 W. Pratt Blvd., in October 2012, shortly before BJB Properties stepped in to whip the troubled property into shape. The housing organizers argue, however, that BJB took over the property with the intent of quickly rehabbing the units and then marketing them to higher-paying renters, specifically students from nearby Loyola University. The company manages three other buildings in the Rogers Park area and more than 30 others on the North Side, according to its website.

Jennings said he pays $700 a month for a one-bedroom apartment, and BJB Properties has already hiked the rent for similar units.

"Now they're asking for the same one bedroom [for] $850 [to] $900, and you got an elevator problem, you got rodent problems," he said.

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
5:14pm
Mon Sep 30, 2013

Chicago's Federal Workers To Congress: Stop Political Games, Avoid Government Shutdown (VIDEO)

With the threat of a government shutdown getting closer by the hour, more than 60 federal civilian employees protested at Chicago’s Federal Plaza Monday, calling on Congress to “stop the lockout.” Progress Illinois attended the rally.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
2:12pm
Thu Sep 26, 2013

Former Ickes Residents Urge CHA To Provide Replacement Housing: 'We Just Want To Come Home'

Chicago Public Housing activists say it is unacceptable that the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) has once again broken its promise to deliver replacement housing units for former residents of the now demolished Harold Ickes Homes, which saw its last families move out in 2010.

The Ickes public housing buildings on the near South Side had more than 1,000 units before they were torn down between 2009 to 2010. CHA has yet to bring back 312 replacement units that it promised to construct, and it appears there are no concrete plans to build any of them in 2014, according to CHA's proposed 2014 Moving to Work (MTW) Annual Plan.

On Thursday, more than a dozen former Ickes residents and their supporters gathered at a vacant lot at State Street and Cermak Road, one of the former Ickes sites.

"It is unfortuante that every time that housing numbers were supposed to be promised, those numbers were reduced," said the Rev. Robert Jones of Mt. Carmel Missionary Baptist Church. "The city talks about the economics, but yet money is found to put a tremendously large DePaul center not very far from here, and yet we still have this vacant field."

Quick Hit
by Ashlee Rezin
4:44pm
Fri Sep 13, 2013

Protesters Call On First Merit Bank To Support Low-Income Tenants, Be A 'Responsible Lender' (VIDEO)

By providing BJB Properties, and other building owners, with financial support for the purchase and renovation of housing developments in Chicago, First Merit Bank is an accomplice to the decimation of the city’s affordable housing, according to a group of protesters who took their message to a downtown branch on Friday.

“They’re not investing money to develop communities, they’re investing money based on real estate speculation. That’s not in the best interest of the tenants,” said Marc Kaplan, one of roughly 10 participants in Friday’s rally and a member of Northside Action for Justice. “There’s no affordable housing left on the North Side.”

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
12:43pm
Thu Sep 12, 2013

Public Housing Activists: CHA's Plan To Purge 47,000 People From Wait List 'Unacceptable'

Housing activists are outraged that Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) officials are looking to remove more than 47,000 people from its public housing and voucher wait list as proposed in its Moving to Work (MTW) Annual Plan for fiscal year 2014.

“I am stunned by CHA’s decision to strip so many people permanently off the list and to deprive them of a chance for affordable housing,” Mary Nelson, who is homeless and currently on the wait list, said before CHA’s public hearing Wednesday evening regarding the draft plan.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
12:39pm
Thu Aug 22, 2013

Rogers Park Residents Set To Be Evicted Call On Ald. Moore For Help (VIDEO)

Affordable housing activists and tenants of the Astor House on Pratt Boulevard held a prayer vigil and protest outside Ald. Joe Moore’s (49th) office in Rogers Park Wednesday evening.

The approximately 30 protestors called on Moore to “stand for affordable housing” and help convene a meeting between the Astor House’s low-income tenants and the building’s new owner, BJB Properties, which took over the property in October.

The activists say the Astor House, 1246 W. Pratt Blvd., is one of the only remaining affordable housing buildings left in Rogers Park, and BJB is attempting to evict some of the lower-income residents so the property can be rehabbed and marketed to Loyola University students at higher rents. A handful of the building’s tenants are set to be evicted in the next two weeks, the protestors said.

“Many of these families have nowhere to go but the street,” said the Rev. Kenneth Wesbrooks of a Work of Faith Ministries in Rogers Park. “They wont be in shelters. They wont be in SROs. They will be on the street.” 

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