Affordable Housing for Humboldt Park

by  Editorial Assistant

On April 26, the Latino community and several legislators came out to Humboldt Park to hold a press conference in front of Shakespeare Apartments, 2141 N. Humboldt Blvd., a building where 36 families lost their homes three years ago. Many residents were forced to move with only three months notice because the Section 8 building was turned into condominiums. Residents were forced to leave despite the fact that they had lived in the building for years, some for decades. This type of scenario is happening more and more often, as the loss of affordable housing causes Latino families to become homeless.

Local Latino tenants joined state Sen. Iris Martinez (D-20), Ald. Rey Colon (35th), Ald. Manny Flores (1st), the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, Humboldt Park Social Services and other groups to talk about two bills in Springfield currently under consideration.
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RJ Visits Miami/Dade Housing Authority


At the end of June, personnel from RJ and the CHA attended the convention of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists in Miami and took the opportunity to visit the public housing authority for Miami, the Miami/Dade Housing Agency. The attendees were RJ Editor-In-Chief Ethan Michaeli, RJ Intern Brenda Alvarez, the CHA representative to the Latino Community, William Velázquez, and myself.

We were cordially received by the executives of this agency. We had the pleasure of meeting with the executive personnel, who included Miami/Dade Housing Agency Executive Director Rene Rodriguez; William Calderin, resources specialist for the elderly community; Tawana Thompson, in charge of the Family Self Sufficiency program; Sara McLeod, Public Information Official; and Alicia Diaz, President of the Residents Association of Haley Sofge Complex. Read more »

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New Facility for Scattered Sites


Hispanic Housing Development Corporation opened its new offices for the Scattered Sites North Central program, 1402 N. Kedzie, on May 1.

The director of this agency is Hipolito “Paul” Roldan. In an interview with him, I asked if it was difficult to manage this agency:

“In life, nothing is easy,” he responded. “It all depends on how one works to reach their objective; if everything is accomplished positively, you can see the difference accomplished in struggle.”

“Also,” he added, “the problems are not as important as the work that we do to resolve the problems of the community and its needs.

“Here [at HHDC] we don’t distinguish people. Here we interview all types of people without giving importance to race, color or economic situation. Our job is to serve the community and until now, we have accomplished that. We are completely satisfied because we have united to serve the people of our community.

“Ninety-five percent of the families that we serve are decent people of different religions and races who live an exemplary life. But there are always people with different ideologies and then we have to intervene to resolve those cases. Our purpose is for everyone to live like brothers and enjoy their homes.”

I asked Roldan if he knew about the new “One Strike” Policy. He told me that this new law is sending a very important and powerful message to persons who do not want to understand that they have a commitment to the community and that they have to be part of it.

“Our objective is to make residents feel like united families and enjoy their new homes,” said Roldan.

I also spoke with state Sen. Miguel del Valle (D-Chicago), who was also invited and enjoying the company of his compatriotas. He said, “This scattered sites program is very important because it ensures that low-income residents have a decent place to live. But for this program to work well, the residents need to be organized. We have to ensure that the people that are going to reside in these units are responsible people, that they are not going to allow gangs or drug activities in these units or around the community.

“It is very important,” continued del Valle, “that the residents unite like brothers to enjoy their new homes in peace and harmony. We are creating a Latin museum that is being constructed in the park that will be a source of pride in the community, like our library and our vocational center. The streets are being repaired and you can see the positive change in our community and there is still much to do but the progress is within sight of the whole community,” said del Valle.

I asked Mrs. Magdalena Martinez, “Why are you so happy?” and she told me, “We are a group of residents in the community and also members of the Federation of Block Clubs since 1993 or 1994. We fought to have this building constructed for scattered site offices but also so that it could be a community center to serve the community and so it could be constructed for the residents, children and youth to better their economic and social situation. This is the purpose of these activities and we feel very happy for the accomplishment reached today,” said Martinez.

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CHA and Latinos: Interview with Joe Shuldiner


From a recent interview with Joseph Shuldiner, executive director of the Chicago Housing Authority:

Question: Mr. Shuldiner, Why has CHA excluded Latinos from the agency?

Answer: Of course when you look at the upper management I think you’re wrong since [the takeover] we had Ana Vargas, who has since left [as Deputy Executive Director of Finance and Administration], Andy Rodriguez, who is the head of Redevelopment, and Raphael Leon, who is president of Chicago Housing Metropolitan Corporation. So when 8 upper management people met, 3 of them were Latinos, which is a much higher percentage than the Hispanic population in public housing in Chicago. So you know I think the issue of service of course is a different one. I think the core of Latinos and combinations of these people have not been reached-out to and not been served by public housing. So this wrong over the years has made them very low users of public housing.

As you know, there is a lawsuit about that by Latinos United. And we basically, as a result of the lawsuit, are working with a variety of Latino groups to do more outreach.

With all the stuff we send to the residents, we now translate it into Spanish for residents. I know there is a lot of things to be done but I think we are trying to reach out.

I can’t speak about the board that was used before the executive advisory committee, which includes a Latino. We also have to work to see more improvement and success in the Section 8 program. And I think that is also more by desire since I think Latinos are more interested in Section 8 than public housing itself.

Question: Does this have something to do with the Latinos United suing the CHA?

Answer: Well, the suit was already here when we got here. So we never had the chance to show what we would have done without the lawsuit.

Question: I know that you have 104,000 applications back. You guys did a wonderful job with so many applications how many have you sent out by now?

Answer: 104,000 applications were submitted [for the re-opening of the Section 8 waiting list] and 82,000 were found to be complete. And the computer randomly selected 35,000. So only 35,000 of those families are on the waiting list. The rest are not and at this time the first 1,000 are being notified to come in.

I don’t know exactly how many can participate later or a couple of months from now. But we now understand that apart from that there is now a separated remedial waiting list for Latinos. So some of the Latino organizations are doing a separate outreach to Latino communities and the Latinos that potentially were excluded from applying in the past. That list is open until the end of the year. That’s a fair window of 6 months that goes until the end of the year. So for Latino families that meet certain criteria, they can continue to apply and be part of a remedial list.

Question: Do you think that scattered sites and Section 8 should have their own board?

Answer: Section 8 do in some sense because generally the C.H.A.C. is their own organization, so we don’t try to tell them how to do it. In the [Northeast scattered sites] their presidents are not just actually presidents of their development, they are presidents of the Lathrop area. So if you are president of Lathrop, that also includes scattered sites of that area, and to me if the C.A.C decided they wanted representation separately, that’s exactly what they can do.

Some changes are a little more difficult [such as Section 8] because the people are nowhere near each other. They don’t necessarily have a lot in common; they have different housing. You know [Section 8] is not owned by us. It will be of much greater difficulty to organize CHA scattered sites or Section 8 residents because they’re all over the place. Sometimes you go to a development and there is a development so you say “Let’s have an election.” There are 17,000 families all over Chicago [in Section 8]. If someone wanted to organize them, they could have their own organization.

There are other organizations that include both. The New Jersey state organization basically exists for public assisted housing but they also actually represent people in Section 8. The issue again is how you outreach to people, because they’re not conveniently located in developments. It’s not like you go to Taylor and you have 3,500 families. You go to this block and you don’t even know who the Section 8 people are and its not clear to me how much of this information we are supposed to make public. What we have to do is we have to send notices to the residents saying here is the person who wants to organize and the tenant has to make contact with them. We will not normally give the name and the addresses within the program because of privacy issues.

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Latinos Gain Access to Public Housing


Carlos DeJesus’s agency, Latinos United, sued the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). This lawsuit came about because these two government agencies were not including the Latino community in their programs. The lawsuit resulted in a consent decree in 1996 after a 13-year effort.

Today, Latino families represent 27 percent of the Chicago population who are eligible for public housing yet they are only 2 percent of the current public housing population.

“In reality, what we want is for these agencies to open their doors to the Latino community as well as their programs and for them to eliminate the language barriers,” said DeJesus. Read more »

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