Making mixed income work
05/26/2010 10:00 PM
The Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) Plan for Transformation redevelopment called Roosevelt Square that is taking place in our community presents a unique opportunity. Under Mayor Richard M. Daley’s leadership, the CHA has been transformed from a bureaucracy that once ineptly managed dangerous, oppressive housing that was crime ridden and dilapidated, and which served to isolate people by racially and economically segregating them from the rest of society.
This was very costly and cruel and served everyone in our great city very poorly. Those that suffered the most were, of course, the children who had the misfortune of being born into the circumstances that once dominated Chicago’s public housing. Thankfully, Mayor Daley had the political courage to address this often contentious issue to the benefit of our entire city.
Nowhere in Chicago does a CHA Plan for Transformation redevelopment site enjoy such incredible advantages as it does at Roosevelt Square. The project can be coordinated to truly make a mixed-income community work for all involved. It is my intention as executive director of the University Village Association to coordinate the advantages we enjoy in our community and bring them to bear on this important issue to the benefit of everyone who lives within University Village/Little Italy. If our community, with all of its advantages — our close proximity to downtown Chicago, an active, engaged community of great residents, a large institutional presence, and access to the incredible political leadership in Chicago — cannot make a truly mixed income community work, then I believe it will be almost impossible for other neighborhoods that have CHA Plans for Transformation redevelopments taking place within them to be successful.
The meeting last week at Smyth School was contentious because people are passionate about our community. Passion about community is a good thing. How we all express that passion is another matter. I believe that we all have a responsibility to become informed about the complexities of developing mixed-income communities on public land. Toward that end, the University Village Association has set up a community meeting for Thursday, June 10 at 6:30 p.m. at the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame, located at 1431 W. Taylor, to begin the process of informing our community about the complexities of the CHA Plan for Transformation. I hope you can attend.
O’ Neill is the executive director of the University Village Association.