Residents to March on Alderman's Office Against His Attacks on the Homeless, Affordable Housing

CIMC Repost

Community angry as Alderman Cappleman wastes City resources on harassing the homeless & subsidies for the wealthy

CHICAGO – A several years' war between a gentrifying alderman and proponents of a mixed income, interracial community is coming to a head in Uptown with a march on his office this Monday night, October 3rd.

The march begins at 5:30 PM at a focal point for the controversy, the homeless tent city by the Wilson Ave / Lake Shore Drive viaduct, with a march on Alderman James Cappleman's 46th Ward office at 4544 N. Broadway.

Activists point to series of City initiatives that constitute a concerted campaign to drive poor and moderate income people out of the ward:

* Rather than put new funds into housing the homeless, the City has responded with illegal police harassment of the homeless, threatening to destroy their possessions, including tents that offer a measure of protection against the oncoming winter.

* Rather than fund several low income housing projects ("SRO's") threatened with closure, Mayor Emanuel and Uptown Alderman James Cappleman approved a $15.8 million TIF giveaway to a politically connected developer to develop luxury housing with one bedroom apartments renting for over $2000 a month.

* For lack of a few hundred thousand dollars – chump change compared to the millions Cappleman has showered on housing for the wealthy – the shelter at the Preston Bradley Center is slated to close just before Christmas.

* The neighborhood has lost over 1000 units of SRO housing since Cappleman was elected, most recently losing 163 units at The Lorelei on Lawrence and 75 units at The Hazleton on Montrose.

* Rather than follow the will of numerous City-organized community meetings to transform the old Stewart School into affordable housing and other community-friendly projects, Emanuel's hand-picked Board of Education sold it to a private developer to do as they will. To add insult to injury, this past Monday with almost no notice, the City shut the pedestrian walkway in front of the school, evicting the homeless staying there.

* Rather than encourage transit-oriented development for those who truly need it – people who can't afford cars – Cappleman is promoting re-zoning of the property at Broadway and Wilson (where City Sports is), to build a 197-unit high rise, presumably at "market-rate" rents.

"As more low income housing is destroyed, whether by the CHA or private developers, the rents of all working class people increase, as more people chase fewer units of affordable housing," said Andy Thayer, one of the protest organizers. "It's simple market economics. Uptown is losing the economic and racial diversity that has made it unique in the city. To have this segregation aggressively promoted by our sitting alderman is an insult to the working class people of all races who have long lived here."

Monday's action has seven specific demands:

1. Stop City harassment of the homeless, much of which is patently illegal and unconstitutional.

2. Extend full funding to preserve all existing, affordable housing, including the North Side Housing and Supportive Services shelter located at 941 W. Lawrence, slated to close down just before Christmas due to the state budget mess. Keeping the shelters open would cost a small fraction of what other area subsidies to the wealthy cost.

3. Implement large-scale, new funding to institute a "housing first" strategy for the homeless. Other cities have shown that such a strategy not only lessens homelessness, but has huge cost savings over the city's present policy of harassment and neglect.

4. End public funding for luxury housing. Any development that requires public assistance (including zoning or easement changes) must require that 33% of the units be affordable to low income residents.

5.The Zoning and Land Use Committee must be inclusive of representatives of all buildings and organizations that make up the 46th ward. The current composition, heavily made up of representatives of high income white property owners must be abolished and be replaced by one that is truly representative of the racial, ethnic and economic diversity of the ward.

6. In any development that requires public assistance (including zoning or easement changes) a requirement of 33% of the units be affordable to low income residents.

7. The JDL buildings on the Maryville site must have at least 20% affordable units.

Monday's action is organized by North Side Action for Justice, Uptown Tent City Organizers, and the Gay Liberation Network.

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