For some in the crowd at the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) meeting Tuesday morning, standing up and speaking in favor of redeveloping Lathrop Homes was a matter of promoting more development on the riverfront and opening Lathrop to more than just CHA residents. For others, speaking against the CHA’s mixed-income plans and the ratio of market-rate housing and affordable or public housing is a matter of being able to call Lathrop home after the development.
The meeting, held at 60 E. Van Buren St., came after the CHA agreed to loan $3.4 million to Lathrop Homes developer Related Midwest LLC for phase one of the community’s redevelopment.
Residents Fight Back
Residents of Lathrop Homes and community members present at the meeting say that they don’t feel they have been included in the redevelopment process.
Many residents of Lathrop attended the meeting, and after the details of the loan were read, several people stood up singing “We Shall Not Be Moved.” Participants continued singing over the CHA’s discussion and were asked to leave.
Shortly after, community members spoke for a maximum of two minutes about their stand on redevelopment plans. Several expressed their disappointment with CHA in its inability to protect the residents they are supposed to be serving.
“I do not support voting and giving out loans before you have a plan. You’ve got roads going to nowhere, you’ve got a high rise. We all know this is a land grab because it is 35 acres of environmentally clean land on the river,” says Rachel Goodstein, who has been involved in the social service agency at Lathrop since 1992.
Although CHA representatives pointed to the community input they sought from community members, current tenants of Lathrop Homes repeatedly called out CHA for not including them in the process or seeking their input.
“Why is it that 700 units in the Lathrop Homes are empty but when you receive funds from HUD, those funds are diverted to other areas of the city and those properties are decaying?” asks Jose Zayas, a former Lathrop resident and current member of the Lathrop Leadership Team. “If you want to go and see the evidence of how these buildings have been damaged due to your negligence, you should come out to Lathrop and pay the respect to the residents, include them in this process, which has been a closed process.”
Development Has Supporters In the Neighborhood
Not all attendees at the meeting disagreed with CHA’s stance. Several Logan Square residents and developers came forth to give their praise for the Lathrop redevelopment plans.
“Lathrop is a quintessential win-win for CHA residents and the larger community,” says Barry Mullen of Bickerdike Redevelopment Corp.
As one of the first housing projects in Chicago, completed in 1938, the Lathrop homes have been a distinct part of Logan Square’s historical fabric, which some residents embrace.
“We have a historic set of buildings that are an incredibly sensitive and important part of Logan Square bordering the river. It’s laid empty for years and it’s an opportunity to integrate back into our community a diverse set of housing and to open up the access to the river and hopefully to incorporate some green space along with maintaining these historic buildings,” says Logan Square resident Chris Julsrud.
Additionally, some residents see an opportunity to improve market value in the area that would benefit the broader community.
“From the residents’ standpoint, I can appreciate that they would like to see all of the units returned to affordable or public housing. But I think our neighborhood will benefit from a more diverse, inclusive set of housing stock that will include affordable housing units but I think we, the broad community, will benefit from having some market rate housing in that site,” Julsrud adds.
Details including number of units and unit mix of Lathrop’s redevelopment have yet to be determined.