The fourth in the Public Housing in the Public Interest series focuses on the timing, land-availability, decision-making and financing issues affecting redevelopment, spotlighting progress at four sites — Lake Park Crescent, Henry Horner, Jazz on the Boulevard and Madden/Wells/Darrow.
Unprecedented Urban Revitalization
"Strengthening America's neighborhoods while reaching our lowest-income families," said the organizers of a national symposium of 1,000 housing professionals in Chicago this spring, is "mixed-income housing's greatest challenge."
Nowhere is mixed-income theory moving into practice more ambitiously than in the Chicago Housing Authority Plan for Transformation.
In ten short years, in response to federal mandates, this Plan calls for the tearing down of all 53 "gallery-style" high rises, and the redevelopment or renovation of approximately 25,000 public housing units; enough to fulfill the CHA's commitment to provide all leaseholders (as of October 1999) with a new or improved home. By the late 1990s, the CHA owned and operated nearly 39,000 apartments, but nearly 14,000 of them were vacant and uninhabitable. The goal of this transformation is to prevent this level of neglect in the future, not only via improved property management and support services for residents, but also by ending the racial, economic and spatial segregation that has defined public housing in years past. New public housing is being developed within mixed-income, pedestrian-friendly communities.
Success requires systemic changes in all areas of the CHA: property management, asset management and service delivery. It will also require unprecedented coordination between the Chicago mayor's office, aldermen, City departments, City agencies and the CHA.
The challenges the Plan seeks to overcome are great. Overall, 25,000 new or renovated public housing units are intended to provide the following:
- 6,149 new homes for families
- 3,578 renovated homes for families
- 3,017 additional family units that will either be new or renovated
- 9,480 apartments for seniors
- 2,776 scattered site units
25,000 new or renovated homes total
Public Housing in the Public Interest
The scope and magnitude of these changes are as daunting as the conditions that precipitated the Plan. For too long, thousands of families had been
neglected, living in squalor and isolated in poverty within one of the most rapidly prospering cities in the country.
The Plan for Transformation offers an opportunity to draw public housing residents within better reach of that prosperity. "Success in federal housing poli-
cy needs to be evaluated not just according to the number of housing units produced," said the Millennial Housing Commission's recent report to
Congress, "but also in terms of whether the housing produced improves both communities and individual lives."
The latest in the Metropolitan Planning Council's Public Housing in the Public Interest series monitoring the progress of the Plan for Transformation is now available. “Examining the Chicago Housing Authority’s Redevelopment Strategy” focuses on the timing, land-availability, decision-making and financing issues affecting redevelopment, spotlighting progress at four priority sites — Lake Park Crescent, Henry Horner, Jazz on the Boulevard, Madden/Wells/Darrow. It also looks at issues surrounding the Rockwell Gardens and ABLA developments.
Click here to download the complete report.