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Ald. William Burns (4th Ward) on homelessness and housing

Wed, Apr 24, 2013

aldermanburnsBurns, whose ward is located in Kenwood, Oakland and Douglas neighborhoods (26th Street to the North, Lake Michigan to the East, 55th to the South, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive to the West), explained how his ward fights homelessness by providing many affordable options.
The 4th Ward has a “large number of subsidized housing units,” Burns said, “including traditional public housing, two transformation sites, large apartment buildings that accept housing choice vouchers, and low-income housing tax credit buildings.”

When asked if an increase of affordable housing in his ward would allow more people to leave its streets Burns said, “It doesn’t make sense to build communities exclusively of low- and moderate-income people. The Fourth Ward remains a unique place because of its racial and economic diversity. Therefore, given the large number of subsidized housing units in the Fourth Ward, it is incumbent upon the housing community, the City of Chicago Department of Housing and Economic Development (DHED), and Chicago Housing Authority to build affordable housing—equitably—and throughout the entire region.” Burns seeks a “balance between affordable housing development and market-rate projects.”

How would economic and racial desegregation affect affordability of housing in Chicago? Burns said, “The simple truth is that for decades the established policy of the City of Chicago was to create archipelagoes of concentrated poverty typically on the South and West Sides of the city. Advocates must be mindful of that legacy and must work with the City to develop affordable housing options throughout the region.”

Burns did not specify programs that he feels may deter homeless people from achieving independence. He did say that the State of Illinois fiscal crisis and “political paralysis” in Washington has “hampered efforts to fund substance abuse and mental health services necessary to assist some homeless people in reaching independence.”

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