While the controversial topic of gentrification typically spurs heated debates on Chicago’s south and west sides, it also remains central to the contentious redevelopment of the Chicago Housing Authority’s riverfront Lathrop Homes on the city’s north side. Yesterday, following Palm Sunday church services, a number of local religious leaders and congregation members joined with community activists to protest the plan which would see the site’s current 925 CHA housing units replaced with 494 market rate units, 222 affordable rate units, and 400 public housing units. While 1st Ward Alderman Joe Moreno remains committed to see the CHA honor its original pledge to replace the net loss of 525 public housing units at the Lathrop site at alternate north side locations, opponents of the plan contend that the CHA and city leadership — including Moreno — have failed to outline exactly how, where, and when the new units will be made available to displaced residents.
Frustrations have been further compounded by the fact that only about 150 of the Lathrop Home’s current subsidized apartments are occupied despite the CHA’s long list of applicants awaiting housing. Protesters questioned why so many local residents receiving public assistance are often forced to relocate when so many units at the Lathrop Homes remain boarded up and unused. On Sunday, protesters occupied one such empty Lathrop apartment and symbolically handed it over to a woman who claimed to still be on the list after 20 years of waiting, according to a report by the Chicago Tribune. The planned 24-hour sit-in eventually came to a halt when Chicago Police officers arrived on the scene yesterday evening and reportedly made multiple arrests.
In February, despite objections from a divided audience, the initial phase of the Lathrop masterplan earned the approval of Chicago’s Plan Commission. It was then ratified by the full 50-member Chicago City Council on Wednesday with only Aldermen Scott Waguespack (32nd) and John Arena (45th) voting against the rezoning necessary to move the planned project forward. Seen by many as an important step towards revitalizing the entire area, the Lathrop Homes redevelopment is headed by a partnership between Related Midwest, Bikerdike Development, and Heartland Housing. The first phase of 1028-unit project could begin construction later this year with completion targeted in 2018.
·Group protests number of low-income units in planned Lathrop redevelopment [Chicago Tribune]
·Lathrop Homes Redevelopment Gets Plan Commission Nod [Curbed Chicago]
·A First Look at the Lathrop Homes Redevelopment Plan [Curbed Chicago]