LOGAN SQUARE — Saying the Chicago Housing Authority has a "history of broken promises," local leaders and housing activists are continuing to push for the replacement 525 public housing units as part of the redevelopment of Lathrop Homes.
At a Thursday morning news conference at City Hall, activists who are also members of the newly-formed "525 Task Force" unveiled their detailed vision, which includes building 525 units north of North Avenue that are geared toward families.
Lathrop Homes, a housing project built in the 1930s, was targeted for redevelopment more than 15 years ago but the project has been stalled a number of times.
Activists at the news conference argued that the agency should build the units in a "timely fashion" and voucher holders should not have short-term contracts, among other demands.
"We call for the CHA to replace all of the 525 units as they are legally required to," said Juan Carlos Linares, executive director for the Latin United Community Housing Association. "These are 525 taxpayers, 525 eyes on the street, 525 households with children enrolled in our local schools and 525 visions of hope for our city's future. We call on the CHA to do the right thing."
After 15 years, a final plan to redevelop the historic Lathrop Homes complex surfaced this summer.
The lead developer on the redevelopment project, Related Midwest, has announced a plan that calls for a total of 1,208 residential units, including 400 public housing units, retail storefronts, a revamped riverwalk and landscaping. When Lathrop Homes was built, it offered 925 public housing units.
Though CHA's CEO Eugene Jones Jr., in a letter to Ald. Joe Moreno (1st), committed to replacing 525 units in February, activists and protestors say the promise was vague and lacked any details.
The group's detailed plan was designed to hold public officials and the development team accountable throughout the redevelopment process, organizers said. The task force also delivered a "racial impact" letter to the mayor, which outlines the history of the historic complex.
Leah Levinger, executive director for the Chicago Housing Initiative, said the CHA has "no political or financial excuse" not to build the 525 units, given the agency's reserves, which continue to make headlines. Officials say the CHA is sitting on at least $440 million, even after pumping an extra $55 million into its pension fund and paying down debts early over the prior two years.
"The CHA has meaningful resources to take significant steps to transform the racial segregation of Chicago in ways that no other public agency or institution in the city can," Levinger said.