Saturday, March 15, 2008

How Much Subsidized Housing Does Uptown Really Have?

You may be wondering. A reader wrote in with some interesting info on just this subject:

"Let me give you some background on this study. It was conducted by Loyola University's CURL department (Center for Urban Research and Learning) in December 2002. You can find the study in .pdf format here (after clicking link, select "save file to your pc" on the bottom right). It's called the Uptown Housing and Land Use Study. It was commissioned by Larry McKeon and O.N.E. We got a hard copy of this study from a community meeting in 2003. The statistics are taken from the 2000 Census.

This study was supposed to substantiate how much subsidized housing had disappeared from Uptown and why more subsidized housing needed to be built. What it actually revealed was the opposite--there was very little impact on the subsidized housing since most of the condo development was built on vacant land or was smaller unit conversion.

So the Loyola folks had to back pedal since they were hired to show exactly the opposite. What they did was bury the facts in a bunch of statistics.
IF you very carefully look through the report, you'll find the key information on Uptown's housing stats are found on:

* Chart 15 (page 32) percent of home ownership versus renters
* Chart 32 (page 45) Government subsidized housing by # of buildings (NOT # of units which is the key) This is the one Shiller uses.
* Map 18 (page 46)--this the KEY to the extreme concentration of subsidized housing in Uptown. You may not be able to read it easily since it's blurry on-line. Census tract 312: 1,236 units of subsidized housing--43% of all housing, Census tract 315: 1,683 units of subsidized housing--37% of all housing, Census tract 316: 352 units of subsidized housing--24% of all housing.

As you can see, the majority of the 46 ward subsidized housing is concentrated between Montrose/Foster/the Lake and Magnolia. Most of the subsidized housing is in very large high rise buildings. For example: Lakeview Towers at 4550 N. Clarendon is a 500 unit building. Uptown is home to almost 6,000 units of government subsidized housing units.

Uptown's concentration of poverty is close to 40%, almost twice the percent recommended by HUD for building new subsidized housing in a community. But that's another story."
(image courtesy "ms2400" on Flickr)


  1. Wow. I am seriously becoming addicted to Uptown Update. Thanks so much. I will review this and check back in with supplemental data.

  2. one form of subsidized housing is housing choice vouchers, formerly known as "Section 8"

    the IHARP website (link below) includes a spreadsheet on the distribution of housing choice vouchers by Chicago community area as of 2004

    CUPPA: UIC College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs

    Nathalie P. Voorhees Center for Neighborhood and Community Improvement

    IHARP: Illinois Assisted Housing Action Research Project

    Housing Choice Voucher holders (Excel format)

    suffice to say

    some communities are doing more than their share

    others, not so much

    a few have none for some reason

    no north side community made the top 10

  3. According to that Spreadsheet of Voucher Holders, 96.77% of voucher holders are either black or latino. Interesting.

  4. What is really needed is an assessment of all the different types of subsidized housing throughout all of Chicago. That would allow for better planning for the placement of future mixed-income developments (and I'm trusting most of us realize that 100% low-income housing is not supported as a best practice model of housing.)

    If you look at Housing Choice Vouchers as a way of measuring all the subsidized housing, you are missing Voice of the People units, CHA units, and then there's also smaller entities that provide subsidized rents such as R.E.S.T., Inspiration Cafe, Heartland Alliance, etc. You also have people with subsidized rents living in many of the SRO buildings, such as Mercy Housing.

    Regardless of how much subsidized housing is in an area, HUD encourages the development of such housing in census tracts where the poverty rate is less than 20%.

  5. Thanks for pointing that out but where do you find those figures?

  6. Here's the HUD link

    It's important that we use our limited housing resources wisely and that's why it's so necessary that we rely on the use of best practices to guide our decisions. It removes the intense emotion about the subject and helps to keep everyone focused on wanting the same outcome.

    I'm convinced many people have trepidations about subsidized housing based on some of the bad practices we've witnessed. Everyone suffers in the process.

    When subsidized housing is done correctly (as in mixed-income developments), it usually gains more support from the community and it ensures that the money for this is used wisely. Everyone wins.

    What is also crucial is distributing mixed-income housing developments more equitably throughout Chicago. Other cities are doing it so there's no reason why we can't do it here.

  7. Let's stop this insane stockpiling of low income housing that simply doesn't work! Segregating poor people in all low income housing is a guarentee they stay poor.

    How is it the rest of Chicago understands this? And the 46 ward thinks it's just dandy.

  8. Well, this is happening because every other community near the Loop is effective in getting their NIMBY concerns heard. The suburbs have also done a great job keeping affordable housing out such that workers now have to travel great distances to get to the jobs in those communities.

    Uptown residents keep getting more low income housing because the mayor, the charity circuit and the alderman have agreed to keep pushing for it here despite encroaching pressures that make large swaths of affordable housing increasingly economically unfeasible. The TIF makes it possible to throw money at a pressing political problem.

    If you look at the figures in this document, you will see that there is a woeful lack of affordable housing for families even though the overall amount of affordable housing units in Uptown is high. This fact is not unrelated to the number of homeless children living in Chicago. As I jut alluded to, this issue is really on the radar in Chicago and it looks to me that WY is being designed to deliver some of that badly needed family housing.

    Uptown residents are correct to point out, however, that most of the housing is in high rise buildings which concentrates the poor. There is also growing evidence that high levels of inequality in neighborhoods engenders crime as well. What is really needed are the mixed-income communities like HUD recommends. Sticking a bunch of high rise low income housing within a more scattered landscape of middle and upper income residences is just not the same thing. Unfortunately, the demand for affordable housing is so high (and the neighborhoods willing to take their fair share so low) that integrating these units properly throughout the region is politically DOA.

  9. Rather than keeping low income people concentrated in the city, where there is a dearth of jobs, which only perpetuates the cycle of poverty a major concerted effort is needed to move many of them to the suburbs, where the jobs are, opening an improved path to econoomic opportunity for them.

  10. Yes. Affordable housing needs to be dealt with regionally and it hasn't been even talked about until relatively recently. But there is overall job growth in the city. I will say that much for Mayor Daley.

    Unfortunately, we are not replacing the kinds of jobs that people have had in the past. It was not too long ago that someone could live in Uptown for dirt cheap, afford to have a car and then travel to the number of smallish manufacturers in the area. These jobs---that don't require a lot of skills or training or formal education---are largely gone. They have been replaced with service jobs. Women in particular have been taking those jobs and there has been a lot of job growth in that sector. However, many of them don't offer health insurance and they pay poorly. Once you add housing and childcare into the mix, a lot of people can't live off the money that those jobs pay. Thus, even people holding down FT jobs can qualify for subsidized housing. I think the problem for Uptown is a political one: everyone else successfully blocks that subsidized housing. So, there is an overflow and it is encouraged by the Mayor, the alderman and the public charity circuit to come here because there is a "need." There is a need here but none of these groups are willing to acknowledge that they are not simply addressing a preexisting need---they are creating inflow from other areas which are not addressing their need. And, it is not the first time that this has happened in Uptown. When the Congress Expressway was created there was a sizeable "skid row" on the west side. Where did those folks go? Uptown.

  11. I don't understand why so many people are in favor of subsidized housing, when its that same subsidized housing that brings in the crime, the drugs, the gangs, the graffitti and the trash that makes Uptown a difficult place to live in. Maybe I just don't see the magic in those things and need to be re-educated.

  12. Well, it would be nice if the Alderman and some of her supporters would expend some effort in providing the community with some constructive ways to understand these issues. Of course, there is really no need to do that because it is not necessary to build local consensus and understanding on these issues in order to move forward with their low-income housing plans. It is in the bag.

    In addition, thoughtful discussion only reveals some of the exquisitely poor leadership that is occurring on this issue in Uptown. There are informed and well-intentioned players on this issue who are perfectly aware that Uptown is part of a general shifting around in this City. Those people come to terms with it by not looking too closely at the spatial distribution data and by falling back on the "rightness" of their cause.

    So, windycityeagle, please know that there is a true need for subsidized housing in this city. However you are right in that there is no magic in big buildings of it---even if you put those big buildings in stable neighborhoods. We get the big buildings because demand is high and space "available" for them is low.

  13. I agree with saskia. Where is our alderman's guidance? It is not just middle class white men who are opposed to violence and graffiti and gangs. I'm betting that working single mothers in public housing feel the same way. We are not that different. White, black, rich, poor.... I imagine we all want the same things, a safe, clean and resource filled community for our families to grow up in. And if there was some sense in this ward of community... If we had an alderman that drew us all together instead of pointing out the differences that divided us, we might be able to find a way to live together in peace... In a community that bridges those gaps.... In a community with retail and aid in the same blocks. If our alderman would take a little pride in her community. But it appears that all she's worried about is proving a point, being right, and flexing her muscles. She has little interest in unity. I imagine that at some point, before the name calling and the politics took over, our alderman might have had that dream. But her plan or the way she executed it didn't work. And for the good of all in her ward, she should hand the reigns over to someone who genuinely cares about the community.

  14. The majority of subsidized tenants are people from other places, not even citizens of the US. I detect racism in these writtings. If anyone had a clue about section-8 they would know that. What idot wrote that lakeview towers had 6,000 units obviuosly wants to spread negetivity about non whites or is severly mathematicaly challenged, because the building can't house 6,000 people. I guess when you know some people will accept anything, then you have some followers like hitler did. Scare tactics at its worst.

  15. Uptowner, you're mistaken. No one said Lakeview Towers has 6,000 units of subsidized housing. Go back and reread:

    For example: Lakeview Towers at 4550 N. Clarendon is a 500 unit building. Uptown is home to almost 6,000 units of government subsidized housing units.

  16. What are you talking about Uptowner? Where in this thread did anyone talk about 6,000 units in Lakeview tower? I can't find it.

    Also, I am glad that you can detect racism in this thread. I know you are just some poster on a blog but since I work with people of all backgrounds in my work, I try very hard not to be a racist. Given what you have said here and the frequent refrain that this is a racist & fascist blog, I am becoming worried that I may, in fact, be a racist or am at risk of becoming one. This troubles me deeply so I hope that you will check back in often to tell me when I have gone astray. Feel free to say, "saskia, that was a racist comment and it indicates that you are a racist." Other people might get angry at something like that but when it comes to me, I invite you to help me out because the last thing in the world I want to be is a racist or a political lemming. I hope to hear from you soon so that we can begin our work.

  17. Did my previous messg post? I want to know how I can get updates w/o joining facebook.

  18. What is needed is "mixed" housing, where you have low-income with moderate income housing....with low-income the smaller percentage. You cannot grow a strong community with subsidized "low-income" housing. And it's for the low-income, it's not for the moderate income workers.