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Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd Ward) on homelessness and housing

Wed, Apr 24, 2013

scott waguespack chicagoScott Waguespack, whose ward is located in Bucktown and Roscoe Village (Cornelia to the North, Sheffield/Halsted to the East, Chicago to the South, Western to the West) said that while he supports Plan 2.0, other issues need to be addressed such as the “closing of City mental health centers and the services they provided.”

In addition to the efforts of churches and neighborhood organizations that focus on the needs of families, Waguespack’s ward is working through “major changes at the Salvation Army site on Clybourn, where they are redeveloping an entire complex that serves all of the North Side, providing jobs and services to hundreds of people.”

Would an increase of affordable housing in his ward cut down on the number of homeless people in his ward? “Not necessarily,” he responded in an email.

Did existing programs deter homeless people from independence or were there programs that he felt helped people to improve their situations? “Some of the programs and agencies have been helpful, but some need work in addressing the needs of individuals.”

And would economic and racial desegregation affect housing affordability in Chicago?

“The direction the CHA and City are taking now, at least in terms of the North Side, is turning the clock backwards,” Waguespack responded. “The Julia Lathrop Homes is going from a mixed-housing development that provided homes for about 900 families or individuals and has now been whittled down to less than 200. The redevelopment of the site will cause further upheaval and leave about 400 affordable units on the table with the potential for another 1200 market-rate units. We would prefer to maintain hundreds of units more through a mix of rehabilitation of the site, instead of a complete redesign and redevelopment of the site by CHA appointed developers.”

Waguespack’s stance on the landmark Lathrop Homes is similar to that of neighborhood advocates, who wish to retain public housing and affordable units at Lathrop, which is located along the Chicago River at Diversey between Clybourn and Damen Avenues. The advocates say that there is enough higher-income housing nearby in neighborhoods such as Roscoe Village to provide economic desegregation and opportunity.

However, the CHA historically has said that market-rate units leverage the cost of rehabbing or constructing public and affordable housing. On the other hand, advocates dispute this, saying that the federal funds in fact pay for the market-rate units.

According to the CHA website, its Riverworks concept for Lathrop will reuse a critical mass of the existing homes by concentrating new dwelling units in taller buildings at the north and south ends of the site in order to preserve Lathrop’s Jens Jensen-designed Great Lawn. Other benefits will be a “Main Street” of neighborhood retail on Damen Avenue, a multi-purpose community facility at Diversey and through-streets to Damen and Clybourn.
A final plan is expected later this month.

- Suzanne Hanney and Ellen Garrison contributing

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