Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Failed Public Housing Transformation

The Chicago Tribune ran a great story on Sunday about the failure of Chicago's plan to transform public housing in ten years. Here are some of the interesting and relevent Uptown quotes:

"The sputtering effort also has translated into higher costs—with some public housing units totaling more than $300,000 to build, more than the price of a home in many Chicago neighborhoods." (The cost of build a new "affordable"home at Wilson Yard is $460,000 per unit.)

This is reminiscent of another ward we can think of: "Shortly after the firm was created in 2001, Allison Davis, UPA and other companies connected to Davis began donating to the Democratic organization in the 17th Ward. That is the political base of Terry Peterson, then the CHA's chief executive"

Overall, Wilson Yard promises to be nothing more than an extension of the City's "Plan for Transformation" which has, of yet, been an nothing less than an abject failure (unless you're a developer or an alderman, of course, in which case, you're gonna' be rolling in dough, regardless the outcome).


  1. Hard to believe it cost 450K a unit to build. Wonder how much of that is corruption cost.

    Think about it they could buy everyone one of those tenants a single family house in the far west burbs cheaper.

  2. If you read this Chicago Tribune article then you need to read this Boston Globe piece as well. Our own Uptown Update covered it.

    Allison Davis forged the spurs on Barack Obama's political boots.

    Could you imagine a system where a resident requires public assistance to pay for their housing, applies for it, is approved, and is given a monthly rent stipend that THEY control in terms of where they choose to live?

    If you want a government that works for you, instead of you working for it, rearrange the pieces of finance.

    Current flow of capital...
    You -> City/State/Fed -> Public Works -> Connected developers -> You

    Better flow of capital...
    You -> City/State/Fed -> public works -> You -> Housing interests

    We're running out of time though. This November our very own Machine is preparing to install a President. If the Chicago Way is the least bit alarming in terms of public assisted housing in your neighborhood, wait until the machine gets their hands on the purse strings of the FHA, Medicare, Social Security.

  3. Actually, the point of the Chicago Tribune article was that public housing doesn't work in any form tried so far. You either get ghettos or horribly overpriced townhomes that never get built because suprise surprise, people don't want to live next the hangout for the Latin Kings. Radical concept I know. Helen Shiller is example number in this case. Did she want to live near the wonderful integrated community that she's always championing, noooo way. She got as far away as possible.

  4. These numbers are stagering. Funny thing is I was just looking in to private companies who build green houses for under 100,000. Key word being private.

    Everytime government over steps it's bounds the programs fail.

    Puplic Housing- Fail
    Education- Fail
    Social Security- Failing
    Welfare- Fail
    Transportation- Fail

    If I failed in my job to that degree I would have been fired. Yet Daley, Shiller, and the rest of the crooks keep getting re-elected?

  5. Great article, I just hope the VP's and leadership at the Target Corp, in Minneapolis are keeping up with these and other articles.

    Hoping they get a sense of who and what this b*tch is all about.

    Thanks for sharing UU.


  6. "Actually, the point of the Chicago Tribune article was that public housing doesn't work in any form tried so far."

    Tried so far. Bingo.

    What's the problem with the way government provides services all across the country? The problems all seem to transcend cultural boundaries, geographical boundaries, linguistic boundaries, even political boundaries.

    These problems can be fixed and you don't have to part the Red Sea to do it. You merely have to change the finance model to something that hasn't been "tried so far".

    If you are in need, apply for a voucher. The voucher will not be constrained by such forces as restricted locations where one may use the voucher. Use it anywhere where anybody else uses capital to obtain what they want. A voucher is as good as cash, but cannot be converted into cash.

    With a voucher and no geographical limitation other than the state you use it, one can choose where they live. Want to live near family? Do it. Want to live near your place of work? Do it. Want to move your family away from the criminal underworld of checkpoints and gang assimilation? Do it.

    Vouchers will set you free. Don't sleep on them. My cronies and I will create a finance model that will try to keep as much of this capital in our domain, but with the proper constructs we won't be able to win. We won't be able to control human lives.

    We will still try.

  7. "market-based corporations' fiduciary obligation to maximize profits that is inherently incompatible with a stable economy whose goal is to provide people with a decent quality of life."

    You give me your egg. I'm going to serve you your cooked egg. You like it over medium(yummy), but I'm going to scramble it(fast, easy, easily expandable to many eggs). But I'm going to make some creative changes. You see, if I cook your egg over medium you will know you are getting back an entire egg. But if I scramble your egg, I can combine it with 6 other eggs and then serve 7 eggs to 10 people.

    Did I steal a portion of your egg? Yes.
    Do you mind if I steal a portion of your egg? You might want me to do that.
    Could you portion your egg the same way without me involved? Of course.

    Why do I have to be involved in the process? What do I do that you cannot do without me? Do I borrow some of that "magic" from the markets?

    I am your government. I am a casino. I cannot win unless you allow me to win.

  8. As for our precious Wilson Yard, where the per-unit cost seems to take the grand prize, I truly can’t wait to see these units. What kind of appliance package will there be? Stainless I hope. And the countertops, what about the COUNTERTOPS? I’m silly to ask, granite of course. Will there be a choice on the kitchen cabinets, Oak or Maple? As for the floors, we can expect hardwood, right? Please tell us there will be designer fixtures in the bathrooms? Don’t forget about the fully wired business lounge. Wilson Yard certainly will have all these things because Parkside of Old Town does and the condos there are in the $300’s and Peter Holsten is building that development. Here’s the link:


    In fact, dear neighbors I’ve found a couple of units there I really like. Unit 417, MLS # 06865241 is a great one bedroom for $249,000. The remarks say: “ParkSide, the new look of Old Town. First Mid-Rise Bldg located parallel to Seward Park. Nine Stories, Kitchens equipped with Granite Countertops with SS Appl. Modern Bths and Hardwood Flrs in Kitchen and Living Areas. ParkSide offers the lifestyle and convenience of city living your clients have been looking.”


    I also like Unit 303, MLS # 06517774. Originally listed for $339,900, it’s a two bedroom, two bath and over 1230 square feet!


    If you would like the contact info for the sales center:

    Parkside of Old Town
    465 West Division Street
    Chicago, IL 60610
    Mon - Fri •
    10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
    Sat • 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
    Sun • 12:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.

  9. This was posted by billyjoe at 9:23 a.m. The insults to other posters have been purged.

    "A sane government doesn't leave essential goods and services--food, fuel, housing, healthcare, transportation, education--to the vicissitudes of "magic" markets. Non-discretionary economic sectors should be strictly controlled by--indeed, owned by--the government.

    Consider, on the one hand, snail mail and public education. The Postal Service and public schools both have their flaws. But what if they were privatized? It would cost a lot more than 42 cents to mail a letter from Tampa to Maui. And poor children wouldn't get an education.

    Privatization, particularly of essential services, has always proven disastrous. From California's Enron-driven rotating blackouts to for-profit healthcare that has left 47 million Americans uninsured to predatory lenders pimping the housing bubble to Blackwater's atrocities in Iraq, market-based corporations' fiduciary obligation to maximize profits that is inherently incompatible with a stable economy whose goal is to provide people with a decent quality of life."

  10. It doesn't cost 42 cents. They only had to raise the postal rates because of the way the Postal Services does their accounting and any money left over they take and use elsewhere due to stupid laws our government has enacted to steal from us.

    And that is from a guy that is high up in the post office that told me that.

  11. "The development team, including Allison Davis, leased that land from the CHA for 99 years in exchange for a one-time payment of about $200,000. It then built the storefronts that were later sold to a firm controlled by Davis and Vanecko, the mayor's nephew, WHICH USED MONEY FROM THE CITY EMPLOYEE PENSION FUNDS to purchase the space for $4.2 million."

    Could I own the city if I just convinced the people to give it to me?

  12. "Non-discretionary economic sectors should be strictly controlled by--indeed, owned by--the government. "

    Not necessarily.

    Replace "owned by" with "overseen by" and you have a point.

    Allow the government to be the only provider of products or services within the market and you remove the competition (see: reason for anti-trust laws.

    Competition is what makes it good.

    Lack of competition equates to lack of incentive, lack of accountability and , most often, a product of lessor quality (see: Microsoft).

    If the government were to control the product of public housing, where is the incentive to produce a quality product (see: Cabrini-Green, Robert Taylor Homes).

    Altruistic intention? phpt.

    Where are the examples of a quality, government generated product (outside of the military - which, Constitutionally, IS the government's responsibility and can only attain success by controlling the rights and freedoms of it's volunteer employees)?

    In a lah-di-dah world where the government is actually held accountable by the constituency, the possibility of quality is there, as well (competition of candidates).

    But in the real world, we've seen the what the city, county, state and feds have been able to produce and it's all been a horrible mess (see: CTA, Walter Reed Hospital, Stroger Hospital).

    Elections should be the time of accountability, however, a person would be hard pressed to convince me that the election process within the state is not perverted (see: picture of Joe Moore assisting a voter at the voting booth '07).

    If an employee of a private company is deficient in their duties, that person is fired.

    In the state of Illinois, there is no such path of recourse (thank you, certain people in the state legislature who belong to a certain party who decided to deny the voters a voice in whether or not to allow for recalls).

    Enron is a perfect example.

    Perverted market players ran amok, the government stepped in and stopped it (eventually).

    But what if the market players are the government?

    Where's the oversight (see: above)?

    The example of private v. public schools was used.

    I challenge anyone to produce consistent examples which prove private school to be deficient in comparison to public schooling.

    Actually, I'd challenge anyone to produce a list of products or services rendered by the City, County, State or Federal governments which are superior, in any way, to those products/serves rendered by the public sector (other than the space program).

    Fact of the matter remains that unless and/or until any government can control the freedoms/rights and free will of the people, that government is destined to fail in their endeavors within ANY market sector, not simply non-discretionary ones.

    The dream of communism died beneath the rubble of the Berlin wall and socialism is being played out in Venezuala and Cuba - and that, too, is failing to realize the dreams associated with governmental control over market forces since, as it turns out, the people aren't big fans.

    In short: the market always wins (see: China).

  13. Nice post Yo.

    Don't forget that it is almost impossible to fire a bad teachers in public schools.

    As far as the Postal System?? They were 1.5 billion dollars in the hole before 9/11. Anybody want to guess what it is now? So that 42 cent stamp is costing the American public a lot more.

    460,000 per Unit at WY, and people are still defending people.

    Does anyone else think that the reason Hellen Shiller lets the crime carry on in her ward is so that it will distract from this kind of vulgar spending?

    It's like a pick pocket stealing your money as you watch the hot chick walk by with her dog.

  14. Just a quick thought, if the Postal Service is so wonderfully run by the government, why must they insist, that by law, they are the only group allowed to deliver mail?

    When one organization legally bans competition, you can bet they aren't exactly efficient at what they're doing.

    "In short: the market always wins (see: China)." - yo

    Here here brother.