City of Chicago Department of Housing and Economic Development
121 N. LaSalle St.
Chicago, IL 60602
January 9, 2014
St. Luke’s Lutheran Church of Logan Square
2649 N. Francisco Ave.
Chicago, IL 60647
We are writing on behalf of the congregation of St. Luke’s Lutheran Church of Logan Square as well as our neighbors and friends to express our concerns about affordable housing in the City of Chicago and specifically the Five Year Housing Plan for 2014-2018.
St. Luke’s has a long history of ministering to those who lack shelter and advocating for safe and affordable housing for all Chicagoans. For example, at our weekly Community Dinners program, we provide food and fellowship for more than 50 individuals including those who are homeless or housing-insecure, along with those blessed with stable housing.
Our concerns about housing have led us into partnership with the residents of the Chicago Housing Authority’s (CHA) Lathrop Homes development, just a few miles to our east. Within the past year, for example, we have invited Lathrop residents to St. Luke’s to share their stories about life at Lathrop and express their concern that the CHA’s plans to redevelop Lathrop will prohibit many of them from continuing to live in their homes; held a community screening of the film “Pruitt-Igoe Myth” that stimulated conversations about the systemic injustices associated with public housing; and participated in numerous meetings of the Lathrop Leadership Team as residents, neighbors, and partners including the Logan Square Neighborhood Association discussed their visions for the redevelopment of Lathrop. Most recently, along with other Logan Square congregations participating in an Ecumenical Alliance, we hosted a Posada event at Lathrop to call attention to the need for public and affordable housing in Chicago.
All of these activities are expressions of our shared belief as people of faith, Chicagoans, and concerned citizens that safe and affordable housing is a human right that should be accessible to all. Consequently, we want to ensure that the city’s Five Year Housing Plan for 2014-2018 maximizes the city’s commitment to affordable and public housing. To this end, we ask that the Five Year Housing Plan incorporate the entire Community Housing Plan developed by three citywide housing coalitions—Sweet Home Chicago, Keep Chicago Renting and the Chicago Housing Initiative—and supported by 20 aldermen. The provisions included in the Community Housing Plan will ensure maximum preservation and expansion of affordable housing, including through the preservation of family public housing as the CHA’s Plan for Transformation concludes.
One of the most important aspects of the Community Housing Plan that we believe is essential for inclusion in the Five Year Housing Plan is its mechanism for accountability over funds that flow from the City to the CHA. Currently the City has little accountability over how the CHA uses these funds, and recently the end result has been a reduction rather than an increase in the supply of affordable housing in Chicago. Under the last three five year plans, the City has given the CHA $560 million, and the CHA has demolished thousands of public housing units but has built less than half of the replacement public housing it promised. Therefore, as stated in the Community Housing Plan, we request that the City of Chicago work to ensure that there is no further net loss of public housing units by (1) dedicating resources for the preservation and rehabilitation of remaining low-rise family public housing developments and (2) requiring that developers who receive city funds to redevelop public housing replace any standing public housing unit that is converted or demolished on a one-for-one basis. We also request that any replacement units be located as close as possible to the demolished units, so that families are able to maintain the social, neighborly, and employment connections that they have established in their neighborhoods over many years. These reforms would be particularly beneficial in ensuring that public housing and stable communities are preserved for our neighbors at Lathrop and other developments throughout the City.
In closing, on behalf of all of our neighbors and fellow Chicagoans, we ask that you include all the tenets of the Community Housing Plan in the City’s Five Year Housing Plan for 2014-2018. Doing so will bring us closer to a future in which no individual or family lacks a safe, affordable, and stable place to live.
The Social Justice Committee on Behalf of the Congregation of St. Luke’s Lutheran Church of Logan Square
Cc: Alderman Rey Colon, Alderman Robert Maldonado, Alderman Joe Moreno, Alderman Ariel Reboyras, Alderman Ray Suarez, Alderman Scott Waguespack