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Lathrop Homes Redevelopment Takes 'Major Step Forward' With CHA Deal

By Mina Bloom | December 16, 2016 3:21pm | Updated on December 21, 2016 10:45am
 A rendering of the redevelopment project.
A rendering of the redevelopment project.
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LOGAN SQUARE — The CHA and a group of attorneys behind a decadeslong fight to desegregate public housing have reached an agreement on the Lathrop Homes redevelopment plan.

The deal, reached late Thursday in federal court, means 525 replacement public housing units will be built on the Northwest Side, including 420 family units and 105 senior housing units, plus an additional 105 public housing units, bringing the total to 630. No other details were released.

It's welcome news for local leaders and housing activists who have been fighting for months for the redevelopment project to include more public housing.

"We are pleased that, given the long-standing partnership between BPI and CHA, new, quality affordable housing will be made available to low-income residents on the North Side of Chicago," a joint statement reads.

The deal was between the CHA and the Business and Professional People in the Public Interest, a group of attorneys who represent plaintiffs in the federal Gautreaux case, a 50-year-old desegregation lawsuit.

For years, housing activists and local leaders have been calling on CHA and public officials to include more public housing units in the redevelopment project and agree to keep them public for 20 years. A group of activists called the "525 Task Force" held a news conference as recently as Thursday.

In February, CHA's CEO Eugene Jones Jr., wrote a letter to 1st Ward Ald. Joe Moreno committing to replace 525 units, but activists and protesters say the promise was vague and lacked details.

On Friday, after the agreement was reached, the task force released the following statement:

"Our understanding is that CHA's commitment will be part of an enforceable court order. If so, this is a major step forward in a long struggle that Lathrop residents have led to confront taxpayer-funded segregation on the North Side of Chicago. This victory is rooted in their vision and persistence."

However, activists remained skeptical, adding, "We still have many questions."

When Lathrop Homes was built in the 1930s, it offered more than 900 public housing units spread across 32 acres of land bordered by the Chicago River, Diversey Parkway, and Clybourn and Damen avenues. Today, only 15 percent of those units are occupied.

After 15 years, a final plan to redevelop the historic complex surfaced this summer. The plans call for more than 1,200 residential units, retail storefronts, a revamped riverwalk and new landscaping.

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