Lathrop Homes Targeted for Redevelopment

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Lathrop Homes is the future site of a new mixed income community along the Chicago River, according to the CHA Board approved FY2008 Moving To Work Annual Plan.

Redevelopment plans of Lathrop Homes calls for a total of 1,200 units, divided equally into public housing units, affordable units, and market-rate units, according to the MTW plan.

The MTW plan also states that the , “CHA intends to negotiate a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Illinois State Historic Preservation Office, convene working group meetings, and finalize a request for proposal for the redevelopment of Lathrop Homes in accordance with the MOA provisions,” sometime in 2008.

Last year, residents of the Lathrop Homes demanded to know what the CHA had planned for their development.

At the March 20, 2007 Chicago Housing Authority Board of Commissioners meeting, Juanita Stevenson, Local Advisory Council president at Lathrop, and other residents asked the Board about redevelopment plans for the public housing complex.

The Julia Lathrop Homes consists of three- and four-story buildings and two-story row houses that serve a racially-mixed community on Chicago’s North Side. Built during the Great Depression, Lathrop was one of the city’s first public housing complexes. Preservation Chicago, a historic preservation group, called Lathrop “the best public housing development Chicago ever built,” and included it on the group’s list of most threatened buildings in the city.

Stevenson and several other residents who spoke at the meeting appeared baffled about what is expected to happen at the public housing site.

Stevenson wanted to know why plans were being made for the public housing complex without resident input.

“I was kind of disturbed about the Working Group still working without their title, Working Group, still working on the plans for Lathrop Homes,” Stevenson told the commissioners, who responded with silence.

“So, I’m saying I need an answer as to why the Working Group can’t continue with resident participation. This is a problem. So I need an answer today. I need to know why the Working Group is not allowed to continue. Here we are in March and the CHA is working without the residents,” Stevenson declared.

Lathrop Homes resident Cassandra Cornwell said that she felt that she and other residents felt betrayed and lied to.

“I have volunteered on the riverfront, and I was told if we planted our trees and violets and took care of the land, that there would be a place for us here. That our community would still be here to stay. That in the future young families could find a place called home. Now we have to tell them differently. Now we have been lied to, abused and cheated out of our community.What will happen to us, and what will happen to Lathrop Homes?” she asked.

Rachel Goodstein, a North Side resident, said the redevelopment of Lathrop was not in the best interest of the residents, and she asked the CHA board officials what would happen to the Boys & Girls Club located at the public housing site.

Lathrop residents Leola Young wanted to know if residents would be able to afford living in a redeveloped Lathrop, and Jeanie Pitman suggested to the Board that they take residents’ concerns about any redevelopment plans into consideration.

Source: CHA FY2008 Moving To Work Annual

CHA’s Delayed Reponse to the Residents Questions
Stevenson and the rest of the Lathrop Homes residents who had questions and concerns about redevelopment of the place they call home had to wait a month to get a reponse from the CHA officials.

In the written statement included in the handout to people attending the April 2007 Board meeting, CHA provided a brief response to the residents questions.

In reponse to Stevenson’s question of when the Lathrop Homes Working Group would meet, as well as a request for residents to be included in the Working Group meeting, CHA stated “The CHA does not have a definite date for future Lathrop Homes Working Group meetings at this time. The Working Group has always included resident participation.”

In response to Goodstein’s question about the fate of the Boys & Girls Club, CHA stated “Currently, there are no plans to remove this community facility.”

Regarding the question of whether there were any redevelopment plans for Lathrop and its residents, the CHA stated “The CHA is planning to redevelop Lathrop Homes as a mixed-income community.”CHA also wrote “Yes, CHA residents will be able to afford to live at the Lathrop Homes site after redevelopment,” and “Yes, Lathrop Homes resident concerns are considered. Generally, the Lathrop Homes LAC President serves as the residents’ representative as part of any planning teams and/or activites.”

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