May 19 2007 Hyde Park/Kenwood Affordable Housing summit

Presented by Hyde park-Kenwood Community Conference and its website hydepark.org.

Return to Affordable Housing home. Report on the April 29, 2006 inaugural forum.
Ending Homelessness and Unaffordability. Condo Conversions and High Rises. Density. Development home. Continue with report page for the new affordability organization.

To Conference friends: Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference, in lieu of having its own housing and affordability committee, has endorsed and is represented in the Hyde Park and Kenwood Housing Task Force and will be represented on the organization board that was mandated by the May 19 summit. We urge full community participation in and endorsement of the Task Force and its goals.

As passed Resolution of the Task Force,
unanimously passed by the May 19 2007 Summit

Resolved: That a new community organization be established whose purpose is to convene residents, congregations, organizations and businesses to plan, guide, support, and monitor housing and community activities that will create a sustainable, healthy community of Hyde Park-Kenwood open to residents at all income levels.

The Task Force, spokesperson and for OWL Joan Staples, presented three recommendations developed during the preceding year of research, outreach and reflection:

  1. That a new community organization be established whose purposes is [per preceding resolution],
  2. That the Task Force convened last year be renewed and expanded to include representatives from community organizations that support this mission who will work to create this new organization,
  3. That a community convention be called later this year [tentatively in October] to inaugurate the new organization.

The recommendations were moved by Jane Staples, received numerous seconds, was amended per Sam Ackerman, and were unanimously approved.

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Distributed Report: Task Force on Housing for Kenwood-Hyde Park, May 19, 2007

Background

On April 29, 2006, the Hyde Park-Kenwood Interfaith Open Communities (IOC/HPO) and the Older Women's League (OWL) convened a community meeting to address the changing housing needs of the Hyde Park and South Kenwood communities. The meeting called for long term solutions to address the rising cost of housing and the displacement of long time residents due to lack of affordable housing.

A task force was created at the April 29 meeting with the charge to research forming a community development organization and to report back on a recommended course of action. This task force explored various options for addressing the community's needs, holding meetings with community leaders and three experienced professionals representing three different types of community organizations: 1) Quad Communities Development Corp., a community organization concerned with planning and promoting economic development, 2) Genesis Development Corp., a community-based nonprofit developer of affordable housing, and 3) Lakeview Action Coalition, a local community organization involved with multiple issues, including housing.

The task force has also consulted with a number of individuals and entities, including, the local aldermen (4th and 5th wards), the University fo Chicago, the South East Chicago Commission, the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference, the HydePark-Kenwood Interfaith Council, and the Kenwood Community Conservation Council. The task force received positive feedback from all these entities.

It was the strong sense of the task force that the time was right to encourage the creation of a Hyde Park and South Kenwood community-based organization in order to address affordable housing and related concerns of the neighborhood. The reason for including "related concerns" was to allow alliances with other community groups and broaden the base of support.

[Distributed as part of this paper: the Task Force Recommendations, the meeting agenda, and the list of sponsors. Note: other organizations were present and, along with the attendees, signed up signed on the green cards for participation in the task force. ]

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Sponsors, as of the convening of the summit:

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Report on the meeting, by Gary Ossewaarde

Ken Oliver, Executive Director, Interfaith Open Communities-Hyde Park Kenwood (IOC) moderated. About 40 attended.

Pat Wilcoxen, Program Director, IOC gave brief background, including that since the previous forum the task force talked with experts in research, advocacy and service organizations and potential sponsors. She said further networking is needed and that diversity is the operative word.

Introductions: spokespersons for the sponsoring organizations:

John McDermott delivered the keynote address on "Neighborhoods Addressing the Housing Issue." McDermott grew up in Hyde Park [son of a respected journalist]. He was the affordable housing organizer for many years in Lakeview Action Council (LAC) and currently occupies a similar position in the Logan Square Neighborhood Association.

McDermott discussed the trajectory of issues, conflicts and successes in Lakeview, a neighborhood on a gentrification curve and in some ways similar to Hyde Park, and where there was also strong support for diversity and strong developer pressure, and also many service organizations. Lakeview also found they needed a group focusing on the housing issue but reaching out to many existing groups to whom housing was one but not a main concern and who could become allies and bring in many residents to bring presence or pressure to bear on the climate and on particular sites with problems or opportunities. They had to start almost on a one to one basis, listening to people and gaining their confidence and building that of residents. This was also important for finding and educating future leaders. In the process, LAC found it had to take an interest in a whole range of issues in order to make progress on housing and they had to develop ways to keep their noses to the ground and become very agile.

The Lakeview organizers found it took these relationships, sometimes confronting contrary older relationships and interests, as well as a good fight or two to change the mood and assumptions. They also found they could provide some specific spaces where people of low affordability could sustainably live, but that ultimately the gentrification has continued there towards an ultimate consolidation. (Developers keep finding new devices and leverage, such as buildouts. And McDermott noted that many businesses as well as residents have been priced out.) LAC nevertheless continues to be a strong force respected by residents of the varied income levels (people often saying "you were right") and is now present at the table of community decision making. A couple of fights were important, such as the alliance with a church to turn a convent into housing for transitioning women, Deborah's Place. The fight was with what McDermott characterized as an entrenched, interest-connected and closed-minded but ultimately over-confident then-alderman and the self-perpetuating rubber stamp community organization that was in his pocket.

McDermott said Hyde Park seems to be losing its stability and developers gaining a freer hand. This will accelerate, he predicted, with the Olympics sign post and the march of development from the north.

He advised that the Hyde Park organization work for real results if it is to gain strength and involvement and attract leaders so it can be a catalyst for the kind of community we want. The organization will have to gain a size and scale as well as prominence if it is to be taken seriously.

He said we must invite nonprofit development corporations to look at the area, especially for creation of supportive and senior housing--and they will, having found out that geographically-restricted program concentration doesn't work.

Another key is to be vigilant and ready to seize opportunities and to do "issue organizing"--to "move". He cited a "done deal" in Lakeview where a request for proposals was being issued and already had 60 responses. The right call to the right person at HUD created a 3-day window to submit an alternative--which they could do only because they had a battery of experts and help they could tap on the spur of the moment. The RFP was pulled, and successful supportive housing was created and been very successful the past 15 years. Advocacy with civic partnerships can lead to successful action and solutions.

The organization may have to step in to counter or break up established comfortable relationships and closed-leadership decision-making.


Steven Flowers, task force member and for IOC presented the Task Force Report.

The Report consisted of

After extended public comments on housing experiences and needs, and what people would like an organization to do, Joan Staples moved the recommendations, which received numerous seconds. She invited comment on wording, saying the Task Force is concerned that common terms such as "mixed income" and "affordable" are imprecise and mean different things to different people and intends to define precisely what is sought.

Sam Ackerman moved that the phrase "mixed income" be removed from the resolution and that the words "open to residents at all income levels" be appended after "community of Hyde Park-Kenwood" at the end. The amendment was approved without dissent.

The recommendations were moved as amended and unanimously approved. Lead conveners promised concrete proposals for the fall.

Public comments

Alderman Preckwinkle reported on the Set Aside Ordinance passed at a special Monday 8 am meeting that week. She said it will only apply to city-owned land, planned developments, and upzoning. The number of set asides or equivalent is too low (10%) and the income level ($75,000 for family of four) that defines the price at which the affordable units will be offered ($225,000) is way too high and will help few on the South Side.

Rachel Israel comments that people are "steered" into taking public rental subsidy rather than buying for years, and often have to slip landlords extra, then are suddenly told to vacate because the building is going condo. She showed that this is happening in Hyde Park. Other also said they were just given notices to vacate for condo conversion in Hyde Park. Also noted is that millions in rent-subsidy funds are now being investigated for going missing from HUD or paid for rehabilitations that are never done.

Another asked about how the former LIPRA program can be restored. That enabled renters of HUD-subsidized buildings to buy out and go cooperative at the end of a term of years. Many at the meeting indicated they are renters. They said all must stand together and work the phones to office holders and agencies.

Another said she grew up in Hyde Park but fear she cannot continue to raise her family here or the children cannot. She said we need an ongoing organization.

Joe Kelly said that people with mental health issues especially have problems finding and keeping housing. He touted community housing.

Sam Ackerman called attention to various kinds of formal and informal house sharing. He said there are two major needs: To advocate and influence direction, and to provide tangible support for people caught up in the disappearance of affordable housing.
He commented that Hyde Park is organized to death--what will be special about this organization that can't be done by existing organizations and will justify investment of people's time? Pat Wilcoxen said this will be the only one giving full and sole focus to housing and so grow and become a community wide force. It's about broadening the base. She said the task force and public meeting will have to decide whether the group is going to provide services.

L. Rosenbloom of OWL and First Unitarian focused on the aging of congregations and how this problem of supporting the buildings and work of congregations will get worse if seniors can't stay here. We have to band together.

Mr. Richardson of the Grove Parc residents association (east side of Cottage Grove south of 61st) gave background and said the residents will likely be kicked out if they don't get help to save about half the units without the problem tenants. Organizing is hard and there has not been the help from local organizations and the University. He expressed gratitude for UC students' help, such as through STOP.

Lara Luah (?) asked for updates on the real impacts of the set aside ordinances. McDermott gave details on what it does and flaws he identified.

Someone living near 54th and Ellis described resources available from the University Community Service Center (773 753-4483) , the documentary they did on the impacts of the University on surrounding neighborhoods, and a blog on Grove Parc project (GroveParc.blogspot.com).

__________

After passage of the Task Force resolutions, and encouragement to fill in the green contact cards, the meeting was adjourned.

Contacts to join the task force: John Murphy at 459-4082 or Pat Wilcoxen at 643-7495.

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Herald report on the May 19 summit- Groups vote unanimously to create housing committee

May 23, 2007. By Yvette Bresberry

Several community groups and residents of Hyde Park and Kenwood voted May 19 to create a committee to support affordable housing in the area.

Members of the Interfaith Open Communities (IOC), an organization known for addressing local concerts, met with other community organizers and local residents to discuss ways to create and sustain affordable housing for current long-term residents. They then approved unanimously to create a housing committee that supports affordable housing to residents of all income levels.

Although Mayor Richard M. Daley recently passed a housing ordinance that required 10 percent of planned housing developments be set aside for affordable housing for a household of four earning $75,000 annual income, IOC members said more would need to be done to keep affordable housing in a consistently changing area like Hyde Park and Kenwood.

Hyde Park resident John McDermott said that Hyde Park might face housing problems if the Olympics are placed in Washington Park in 2016 and the South Loop continues to stretch into Douglas, with new business and housing developments.

McDermott brought up that while city officials are hoping the Olympics will produce revenue for the city as a whole, businesses and residents who may be affected by the Games' arrival, mainly in Kenwood and Hyde Park, are concerned about losing land to gentrification. He wondered what benefits Hyde Park will reap by the Olympics' popularity, particularly in housing.

"Hyde Park might be facing a whole new set of problems," McDermott said.

While considering creating a committee to supervise options for affordable housing, some attendees asked why this new committee could not be an extension of the Interfaith Open Communities. "We want to broaden the base as much as possible," said organizer Pat Wilcoxen, adding that the new committee is intended to be an organization of organizations and not just linked to one group.

Ken Oliver, the meeting moderator and IOC's executive director, said the next step is to add people to the housing committed and inaugurate the group by the fall. "We'll be looking to [add] a convention this fall, maybe October," Oliver said.

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