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Residents of Bucktown, Roscoe Village fume as CHA vote on redevelopment plan nears

Chief Housing Officer Ellen Sahli requests $3.4 million for redevelopment plans for Lathrop Homes.

Vanessa Beene/Medill

Residents expressed their outrage as Chicago Housing Authority commissioners prepare to vote  Tuesday on whether to allocate more than $3.4 million of funding for the redevelopment a housing project on the near Northwest Side. 

Chief Housing Officer Ellen Sahli called the action a “preliminary step” as she brought the proposal to redevelop Julia C. Lathrop Homes before the commissioners in a meeting on Wednesday. However, members of the community demanded to remove the agenda item entirely.

“If I’m going to spend $340, I know where every penny of that money is going towards,” said local resident Jennie Fronczak. “I’m unclear as to how $3.4 million can be approved when there’s no clear plan.”

In July 2006, CHA announced plans to demolish the entire project but changed the plan after residents and preservationists protested. Of the 30 buildings that originally stood on the 35 acres of land, only 925 units remain after the CHA cleared residents from the north end of the development in 2011. Since then, redevelopment talks have stalled as residents expressed issues concerning preservation and the number of CHA units allotted.

Sahli said that the CHA development team is now ready to move forward with a proposed 497 mixed-income units of which 180 will be for CHA tenants and 111 would be set aside for affordable housing on the border of Bucktown and Roscoe Village.

“This is just the first step in the process,” Sahli said as she provided a January 2015 date for projected reconstruction of Lathrop Homes, one of the first public housing projects in Chicago.

However, residents expressed anger over the process, citing that even as they met with CHA senior staff two days prior, they were not informed that the proposal would be up for a vote Wednesday.

“There are not enough words or ways to describe how much of an insult this is to the community,” said Lissette Castañeda, co-chair of the housing and land use committee for the Logan Square Neighborhood Association.

“Telling us what you’re doing is not the same as working with us to determine the future of our community,” said Miguel Suarez, who has lived at Lathrop Homes since 1989. 

Sahli says that they are open to talks with the Lathrop Homes’ Local Action Council and that her office is awaiting a memorandum of agreement draft so that negotiations can begin.

Keywords: CHA, Chicago Housing Authority, Ellen Sahli, Jennie Fronczak, Lathrop Homes, Lathrop Leadership Team, Lissette Castaneda, Logan Square Neighborhood Association, lsna, Miguel Suarez, Public housing

Posted in Lathrop, Affordable Housing, LSNA en la Prensa