Coalition for Equitable Community Development
Promoting an Economically and Racially Diverse Community in Chicago's Hyde Park-Kenwood Neighborhood

 

 

Return to Coalition for Equitable Community Development homepage. Continue with May 19 2007 HP Housing Summit.

On April 29, 2006, members of the community assembled in forum to confront "The Changing Nature Our Community: Can You Afford to Live Here?"

This page, prepared by Gary Ossewaarde and complements of www.hydepark.org, contains records of the forum, discussions surrounding it, and a set of

The April 29 Forum, consisting of panel presentations and discussion followed by three breakout sessions, was convened by
Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference (www.hydepark.org)
Hyde Park and Illinois Older Women's League (OWL) (
http://www.wnkhome.northstarnet.org/owlill/) (http://www.owlillinois.org)
Hyde Park and Kenwood Interfaith Council (posted information)
Interfaith Open Communities (www.IOCIllinois.org)
First Unitarian Church Racial Justice Committee (
www.firstuchicago.org)
First Unitarian Church Social Justice Committee

Wonderful handouts were distributed, which are shared in the www.hydepark.org Affordable Housing Information page. The forum showed there is a sizeable group determined to go to work to make affordability happen by setting up structures, including financial, to move this forward. In the vanguard are members of the faith-based organizations. (Members of the latter, asked for reasons for their high interest, cited both the practical needs of parishioners that continually come to the fore in the care of souls and also that the faith task and commission is to address the moral higher questions and their consequences--what am I on earth to do?)

Although ongoing help from the faith-based and the general community organizations are needed, particularly HPKCC, including for convening of task forces and meetings, the consensus was that a task force dedicated to the issue could best accomplish the job, which would have to include contacting many resources organizations and perhaps conducting an overarching study leading to a quality of life plan such has been developed for the surrounding neighborhoods, as well as set up the vehicles that can tap into funding.

Contents/Agenda:

Panel

The program began with 8-minute panelist comments on the state and prospects for affordability and economic diversity in Hyde Park and Kenwood, followed by questions submitted by the audience. Panelists were Winston Kennedy, realtor, Century 21; Pat Wilcoxen of Interfaith Open Communities; Hank Webber, University of Chicago Vice President for Community and Government Affairs; Alderman Toni Preckwinkle (4th); and Alderman Leslie Hairston (5th). The questions posed to the panel were:

  1. What is your perception of the state of affordable housing in Hyde Park-Kenwood? How is this situation impacting the nature of our community?
  2. How do issues of racial discrimination and the aging of the population impact the housing situation?
  3. What are the prospects for encouraging the potential that remains for a multi-racial, age-diverse, economically diverse community in Hyde Park-Kenwood?

Win Kennedy and Pat Wilcoxen gave sobering statistics showing that not only seniors' but younger people's chances of buying, entering assisted living, or (this is coming) renting in this neighborhood are increasingly remote and that we are in danger of becoming mostly high income with low income on the fringes and so losing economic diversity. They pointed out that $500,000 is the mean unit cost here, and that is a tremendous burden for a family, if you run the costs, considering that about 28% of family income toward housing is reasonable rule of thumb. Other issues are another uptick in condo conversions (with a tightening of rents to come) and that many families, especially immigrant, have to double up-which can lead to bad results to quality of living, burden on services including schools, and wear on the housing stock if not managed carefully. Wilcoxen pointed out that of five previous houses or units her family has lived in the neighborhood, four no longer exist and were replaced by very different kinds of housing (expensive), so comparable income new generations are not able to experience those former dwelling units.

Hank Webber said the University wants and thrives on diverse housing types for its students and personnel and in the neighborhood. He cited the doubling of dwelling prices (although not rents) as troubling, related to population stagnation as well as shift of many from renting to owning, especially condos, partly because of low interest rates. And we have lots of good, old stock that is expensive to maintain. He cited University programs that help staff buy and that preserve buildings as affordable units. He said the University takes great care with student housing to not crowd or drive up the market. He said that subsidy is necessary if we are to keep and grow the affordable stock--he suggested looking at land trusts. The trade-offs are challenging but have to be addressed.

Alderman Preckwinkle started by citing studies that prove what we observe--lower income people pay disproportionately for housing. And the housing they can afford is disappearing--including Section 8, which is timed to expire. The next higher income level of working poor to middle-income is squeezing out low income and either buying and converting their housing, replacing, or filling in and thus pricing the low income out. New construction does not even match demographic demand: We need 3 and 4 bedroom units but get 1 and 2. She pointed to doubling up, especially in heavily Latino areas. Yet, there is virtually nothing built for singles or single parents. Neighborhoods are increasingly segregated, even isolated by income. She described the set aside ordinance and its lack of prospects. She suggested locally community development corporations.

Alderman Hairston said plainly, there is no affordable housing in Hyde Park, and the concept has not been defined--it slides with income and the neighborhood. The city pulled the 30%-on-housing federal figure, which means housing costing $190,000 to $210,000--affordable to whom? She clarified that there are public housing units in west Hyde Park, and said that the affordable stock there needs shoring up. But note, she said, we are still concentrating low income in certain neighborhoods and parts of neighborhoods. As an example, the schools are differentiated as poor performing--largely lower income, renting, moving families, up to the high performing that draw from high income, owning families--and are the racially diverse ones.

In addition, there is no new fixed-income housing being built, especially in Hyde Park and Kenwood. Increasingly, the middle class below a certain income can't buy, but rents--and the rental units are endangered. Yet, a dilemma is that renters seem to feel less stake in the community (and stay less long)--they are not "public participants"-- found at public meetings or volunteering--in the same proportion as owners. Could some want to be and be helped to be owners? How can we reverse the slide to segregating, concentrating, and crowding out.

Brought out in the extensive questioning was that there are few options for single, single parent, non-rich seniors, persons with medical problems or disabilities. And no one has considered a senior rent freeze like the homeowner's freezes. Audience members urged the breakout groups to define what is affordable and what is needed by those challenged in that regard.

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Breakout groups

Senior Housing Options. Facilitators Joan Staples and Kennie Jones of Hyde Park OWL, Recorder Ann Mary Klaprat, OWL Illinois.
Concerns and action points:

We must create affordable assisted housing for seniors and the disabled, at under $2,000 a month, in our community, and do it ourselves. Representatives of this group will meet with affordability nonprofits to find out what is available and attainable.

[Addressing] the shrinking supply of Affordable Housing. Facilitator Allen Lindrup of First Unitarian Racial Justice Task Force, Recorder Ellen La Rue of First Unitarian Social Justice Council.
Concerns and action points:

Legislative action including state: shift from property to income tax and local: ordinances,
Community development corporation
Work with the University
Identify those with common interests to create a wide solidarity. Some Actors: Interfaith organizations, University, STOP

[Enlisting] Public and Private Efforts to Develop Housing. Facilitator James Withrow of Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference, Recorder Sam Ackerman, HPKCC.
Concerns and action points:
Set up an organizing and action task force
Develop useful definitions of "affordable" and who needs it.
Contact the resource and facilitating organizations; study zoning, land values, regulations, and how market forces can be impacted; develop a neighborhood plan or quality blueprint, expressing community values and building consensus to put them into action. Identify properties wasting on the sidelines that could be demonstration affordable housing.
Create a community development corporation or similar vehicle.

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Next steps

Prepare reports, send to attendees and put up on websites
Conveners set date for and call first meeting of organizational Affordable Housing Task Force. [See below in meetings.]

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Hyde Park Herald May 3 2006 coverage and quotes from the April 29 forum

By Erin Meyer

Almost 100 residents, fair housing advocates and officials lined the pews of First Unitarian Church Saturday morning in response to the "changing nature" of Hyde Park's housing market.

"We want this forum to start momentum," said organizer Pat Wilcoxen of Interfaith Open Communities. "We should all leave here today with some idea with some idea of what actions we will take to increase the supply of affordable housing."

A panel included the University of Chicago's Vice President of Government and Community Affairs Hank Webber, aldermen Toni Preckwinkle (4th) and Leslie Hairston (5th) and local realtor Winston Kennedy.

"Affordable housing in Hyde Park is a misnomer," stated Hairston. The City of Chicago defines affordable as ranging in price between $190,000 to $210,000 for a two-bedroom unit. According to Hairston, fair-housing advocates first need to consider their own definition for affordable housing before taking action. "If [the city's definition of affordable] is where we are starting, we are not going anywhere," she said in reference to all the middle-income residents in Hyde Park and the surrounding neighborhoods who cannot afford to buy a home. "An individual making $40,000 a year should be able to buy a home. As a government employee, I might qualify for affordable housing."

The Bronzeville area has seen even more sweeping redevelopment and increased property values than Hyde Park in recent years.*Many of the neighborhoods' low-income families and former residents of the Robert Taylor Homes have been displaced to South Shore, which lies in Hairston's ward. "We are concentrating the majority of low-income people in one particular area," she said. "As it is, there will never be a mixed-income community."

Preckwinkle referred repeatedly to her proposed set aside ordinance--which has failed to win Mayor Richard M. Daley's support--now languishing in a committee. If passed by City Council, the ordinance would require all sizable new constructions in the City of Chicago to include 15 percent affordable units. "When we push low-income people out of the city, that's not in our best interests," Preckwinkle said.

Still the alderman advised resident to focus on Hyde Park's existing affordable and low-income housing stock in light of rising land costs and the lack of vacant land. "If we are going to have affordable housing in our neighborhood, we are going to have to subsidize it. We are not going to do it through the market."

But residents pointed to Shiloh Baptist Church, 4840 S. Dorchester Ave.; St. Stephens Church, 5640 s. Blackstone Ave.; and Doctors Hospital, 5800 S. Stony Island Ave.. all vacant and possible sites for conversions o r new construction.

The affordable housing debate is playing out between Preckwinkle and Fernando Leal's L3 Development LLC, which plans to build a 17.5-story residential building [at] 53rd Street and Cornell Avenue. Originally Preckwinkle requested that the developer allocate 15 percent of the proposed building's units as affordable. But in recent months, both parties settled on units at a off-site location.

Residents broke out into focus groups to address various Hyde Park affordable housing issues including the overall shrinking supply, senior access and public and private efforts to develop housing.

Group leader Allan Lindrup of the First Unitarian Church presented a threefold strategy to encourage the preservation and development of affordable housing. He recommended two coalition member groups, the Older Women's League and the League of Women Voters, pressure lawmakers to support legislation including Preckwinkle's set aside ordinance.

Discussion also centered on the creation of a community development corporation (CDC), which would enable local organizations to impact the Hyde Park housing market directly. "Until there is a local entity focused on acquisition and preservation of property, you'll have a tough time," Preckwinkle told residents. Local organizations generate funds through CDC's to develop economic programs and provide financial support for a community.

Another group focused on the housing barriers seniors in Hyde Park face. "When it comes to discrimination by age in Hyde Park, it is based on income rather than race," Hairston said. Senior participants suggested house sharing and contacting condo associations to increase awareness.

"I don't want to be part of that saying, "Black and white together shouldering out the poor," Wilcoxen said.

* At another event, more than one person worried that their neighborhood west of Washington Park is seeing rising property values and they may not be able to afford to stay there.

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Herald editorial May 10 2006: Preserve affordable housing in Hyde Park

Neighborhoods are most healthy when there is diversity in the range of housing options. That was the take-home message of the recent housing forum hosted by the First Unitarian Church.

While Hyde Park is considered one of Chicago's few diverse neighborhoods, the message should become how does the neighborhood maintain its current housing stock while still attracting new development. It is good that people are talking about preserving housing for middle-income families, seniors, the working poor and those on public aid. Making it happen is t he bigger challenge.

Hyde Park's two aldermen, a local realtor and a University of Chicago official were invited to share their views on the state of housing in the neighborhood and answer questions from the audience. Breakout group sessions that followed addressed the issues of senior housing, public and private efforts to develop housing and availability of housing stock.

At 100, the forum was well attended, and the race and age makeup of the audience suggests a good cross section of the neighborhood is interested in these issues. Follow-up forums would be welcomed, because more and more Hyde Parkers are asking the inevitable question" "Can we still afford to live here?"

The concern is justified. The old Harper Theater may very well become a condominium high rise; something as tall as the 14-story Hyde Park Bank building is being suggested for the site. A new high rise is likely to be built at the corner of 53rd Street and Cornell Avenue. The developer there is proposing all high-end condominiums. Though he has agreed to create affordable housing off site, there is no guarantee that housing will be located in Hyde Park.

Other targeted sites for new housing could include the 53rd Street Mobil gas station, the former Vivekananda Vedanta Society home, St. Stephens Church, Doctor's Hospital, and maybe one day Harper Court. Even the loss of rental units is being used as a marketing tool by MAC Properties, which is mailing bright, yellow postcards that exclaim "Warning, Condo Conversion Ahead!" to apartment dwellers in the neighborhood. All the signs point to housing changes.

Fourth Ward Ald. Toni Preckwinkle's claim at the housing forum that there is no land for new housing in Hyde Park is a little misleading. There may be no vacant land, but as listed above there are plenty of old, vacant buildings ripe for redeveloping.

The new development is welcome to the neighborhood. The Herald continues to endorse the proposed 17.5-story high rise at 53rd Street and Cornell Avenue. But it would be great to see the kinds of merchants the developer wants to attract at that boarded-up stretch of 53rd Street.

New housing, however, should not come at the cost of losing the residents who have made Hyde Park home for decades. In the face of rising property values, efforts must be underway to preserve and create housing affordable to everyone.

Understandably, as Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) pointed out at the forum, not everyone is on the same page as to w hat "affordable housing" means. It means something different to every family earning $30,000 to $60,000 to $100,000. And seniors have a different definition of affordable housing than those on public aid.

But in Hyde Park, which prides itself on being a diverse community, quality of life begins in the quality and availability of housing. A set-aside guarantee, like the one Preckwinkle suggests for new condominium developments throughout her ward, is one solution. The availability of rental units must also be preserved, as even young professionals and families may not be ready for home-ownership. There should also be a concentrated effort to establish more affordable, senior assisted-living in Hyde Park.

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Linda Thisted of Interfaith Open Communities spoke on the April 29 Affordable Housing Forum to the May 8 TIF meeting

Thisted said economic diversity in our community is going away. It is helpful to consider separately issues facing owners and renters. For owners, if you don't make $40,000 for a family of 4 you can't buy the "affordable" 2 bedroom for the $155,000 that costs--and there haven't been any here that cost that little in quite a while.

She noted properties in the TIF district that are planned or ripe for redevelopment, that could have at least some affordable. She said that her preference is to have affordable owned units onsite so rental property isn't sacrificed to accommodate offsite affordable buyers. She is aware that affordable units pump up both prices and height/density.

As for rental, the 20-year timeframe for project-based Section 8 is fast running out, putting a squeeze on both renters and landlords. Rental median in HP is $900 a month--far over the recommended 30% spent on housing for most.

Rod Sawyer reiterated trade-off effects of trying to include affordable in a tight, high priced market like Hyde Park and noted that nothing is being built for families or SRO folks.

Thisted said a major goal is to buy a building for senior assisted living for seniors in Hyde Park.

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Coverage in the September 2006 HPKCC Conference Reporter

By Gary Ossewaarde

Affordable Housing Forum Draws Hyde Parkers

April 29, 2006, the Conference joined Interfaith Open Communities, the Older Women’s League, and First Unitarian Church’s Social and Racial Justice Committees in hosting a forum of one hundred residents seeking solutions to the provocative dilemma, “The Changing Nature of Our Community: Can You Afford to Live Here?”

A panel addressed and answered questions on affordability issues, after which the audience separated into three groups by topic to seek solutions and action strategies.
Panelists Winston Kennedy, realtor, Century 21; Pat Wilcoxen, Interfaith Open Communities; Hank Webber, University of Chicago Vice President for Community and Government Affairs; Alderman Toni Preckwinkle (4th); and Alderman Leslie Hairston (5th) were asked to address:

· What is your perception of the state of affordable housing in Hyde Park-Kenwood? How is this situation impacting the nature of our community?
· How do issues of racial discrimination and the aging of the population impact the housing situation?
· What are the prospects for encouraging the potential that remains for a multi-racial, age-diverse, economically diverse community in Hyde Park-Kenwood?

Their answers are given in more detail in hydepark.org (access report from home page or type www.hydepark.org/affordablehousing/April292006forum.htm.) A synopsis of the proposed affordable set aside ordinance, discussed by Ald. Preckwinkle (4th) is in the website’s Affordable Housing Information page.

Here are some of the panelists’ responses:
· We are squeezing out young families and seniors—purchase and ongoing costs are impossible. Prices--and soon rents-- are going up faster than the income of most people: For years, the hypothetical 30% of income for housing has bought progressively less for almost everyone.

· Our prized economic diversity is eroding—in the future mostly higher income people will live by the lake and in the neighborhood’s center and lower income people on the west edge. Income and markets (and to some degree one’s age/life stage) are accelerating these trends rather than race.

· Many of the structures and units best suited to serving as affordable are gone, and now there is a race with condo conversion and pressure to replace with larger upscale structures. There is little new, promising land or structures that can be made into affordable units (disputed by several in the audience). And much of the good stock is old, large and expensive to keep up.

· Lower-income people pay disproportionately for housing and face competition from those with more income, making worse the shortage from failure to replace or increase housing affordable to those with less income.

· Income levels are being segregated and concentrated between and within neighborhoods, with adverse effects everywhere, which spills over into low-performing schools. Imminent expiration of Project Based Section 8 and “transformation” of CHA also play a part.

· Almost no housing is being built for those on fixed income or for singles or low-income large families. More of these become and stay renters—said by a speaker to participate less in community life and decision-making and move around more. And rents are starting to rise.

· Government commitment to affordability and to economically diverse communities, and perhaps to some parts of town, is insufficient.

· The gap will only be closed through subsidy, mainly through local initiatives such as development corporations or land trusts that can tap into funds to preserve, convert or construct affordable structures or units.

Breakout groups say what they want addressed and give options

Senior Housing Options
We must create affordable assisted housing for seniors and the disabled, at under $2,000 a month, in our community, and do it ourselves. Representatives of this group will meet with affordability nonprofits to find out what is available and attainable.

[Addressing] the shrinking supply of Affordable Housing
Legislative action including state (shift from property to income tax) and local action: (such as set-aside ordinances) were recommended.
Set up a community development corporation.
Work with the University.
Identify those with common interests to create a wide solidarity. Some Actors: Interfaith organizations, University, STOP

[Enlisting] Public and Private Efforts to Develop Housing
Set up an organizing and action task force.
Develop useful definitions of "affordable" and who needs it.
Contact the resource and facilitating organizations; study zoning, land values, regulations, and how market forces can be impacted.
Develop a neighborhood quality blueprint; communicate how affordability promotes community values and build consensus to put such values into action.
Identify properties wasting on the sidelines that could become demonstration affordable housing.
Create a community development corporation or similar vehicle.

Next steps and getting to work

A large number of attendees were determined to secure affordable housing and economic diversity in the neighborhood. Task forces are being assembled to start work by the fall. To become involved, contact Julius Yacker at 773 363-0328.

Leaders have already been making inquiries, with reported success, to properties that could be induced to remain or come on the market as affordable refugia to various income or age categories. HPKCC will continue to assist and work with the Hyde Park Affordable Housing Task Force.

Some other programs: The Interfaith Open Community Hyde Park group continues to help families become housing- and life-sustainable. Contact Anne Holcomb 773 643-8161, http://iocillinois.org/hydepark/transitionalhousing/.
Another program is Homesharing: homesharing@lcbh.org, 773 627-8201.

 

Meetings

Information central: Interfaith Open Communities website: www.IOC.org.

If you are interested in serving on a task force on affordable housing to follow up on the April 29 forum, contact Julius Yacker, 773 363-0326.

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About the new Affordability Index.

From Center for Neighborhood Technology May 2006

The index quantifies the trade-offs between housing and transportation costs and the savings that derive from living in communities near transit, job centers and local services
and amenities.

Affordability is about the neighborhood, not just the housing -- and then act on that new thinking. If such thinking was broadly adopted, we believe that over time, the public sector would invest in infrastructure where housing and transportation costs were low; jurisdictions would plan more inclusively; lenders and developers would finance and build more mixed-income, mixed-use projects; and consumers would demand different housing products and locations.

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Montgomery Place "sets the record straight" re its affordability, "offers more"

Hyde Park Herald letter, May 17, 2006

On behalf of Montgomery Place Retirement Community, I am deeply concerned about the April 26 article "Affordable housing crunch looms in Hyde Park."

First, the article names Montgomery Place as the neighborhood's "only assisted living residence" and claims that rent costs approximately $4,000 per month. Unfortunately, since our community was not contacted by your newspaper, we were not given an opportunity to provide accurate details about our services.

Montgomery Place is a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) --not simply an "assister living residence" as reported. We offer every level of independence, from independent living apartments, to Catered Living to skilled nursing, rehabilitation and memory support.

The "rent" that was quoted in the article more closely resembles the fees for our Catered Living services, which include assistance with daily activities like bathing, dressing, medication management and meals. In other words, much more than just housing.

Anyone who inquires about our services will find that our range of financial plans, apartment options and health services are designed to offer pricing flexibility for a variety of budgets while helping more seniors maintain their independence for as long as possible.

Second, regarding the issue of affordable housing, I attended the recent breakout group at First Unitarian Church on behalf of Montgomery Place and was pleased to see people taking an interest and working together on this issue.

As a mission-driven, not-for-profit community, I have relayed the group's concerns to our leadership. We remain committed to serving the needs of our Hyde Park neighbors and will continue to address these issues in our long-range strategic plans.

Michael Apa, Exec. Dir., James L. Janikci, APR SB&A Think Creative

 

But not so fast, says Alice Walker. You really do have to have big bucks to stay there, adding "Neighborhood residents and especially seniors on a limited fixed income are very concerned and anxious about affordable housing. Indeed this is such and important issue."

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CECD