A month or so ago I met with a local affordable housing organizer about the Emmett Street project that is planned for Logan Square.
This was great news to me.
I knew that the project has been in various forms of planning for five years.
The city will sell for a dollar a rarely used and neglected city-owned parking lot to a non-profit agency that has managed affordable housing in Logan Square for years. One hundred units, all rented at below market rates, will be constructed on the lot.
The project has broad community support, particularly from organizations that represent those who are threatened by the neighborhood’s gentrification.
Thousands of working families, mostly Latinx, have been forced out over the past decade or so.
This is not just a Logan Square problem and my concern is not rooted in some romantic nostalgia for a neighborhood I knew 45 years ago when our family first moved here.
The need for affordable housing is a city-wide problem in Chicago. It is more difficult for working class families to live in this city.
So it is good to see that Bernie is addressing it. More candidates should.
Bernie says we can address the lack of affordable housing with city subsidized projects like Emmet Street, below market set-asides required for any new large residential construction and by rent control, which is currently banned in Illinois.
In Chicago the contrast is stark. The out-going mayor and the current aldermen just approved a billion dollars in public TIF money for Lincoln Yards, a walled city-within-a-city for the wealthy on the north side.
Meanwhile what I believe to be a small group of people are upset with a hundred units of affordable apartments in Logan Square. Some are NIMBYs. Some are misinformed.
Under current practices, the 35th ward alderman has the perogative to approve the project, but he is going through a community process that he has established for previous proposals.
When I pointed out the contrast between the approval of a $6 billion development 2 miles east of Logan Square and the debate over a small number of affordable units here, 2nd Ward Alderman Brian Hopkins responded with a tweet directed at me.
Only in the Chicago City Council can a billion dollars in tax subsidies be considered zero.
Alderman Hopkins’ 2nd Ward is home to Lincoln Yards. We can assume he will be well compensated for fronting for Sterling Bay, the developers behind Lincoln Yards.
Hopkins, it should be noted, is a good pal of soon-to-be-indicted Alderman Fast Eddie Burke.
When Steve Niketopoulos moved from Hopkins’ staff to Ed Burke’s Finance Committee Office where he continues to work, in addition to part-time for Hopkins, Jose A. Rivera, Jr. moved from Burke’s staff into Hopkins’ Chief of Staff role. On election night, Feb. 26, Rivera was captured in a photo by a WGN producer in the 14th Ward office as Burke celebrated his re-election victory with his wife Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke.
On April 24th there will be a community meeting in Logan Square where those who have organized the Emmett Street project present their plans.
They will address all questions.
See you on the 24th.