On June 30th, CapitalNewYork.com published an article titled "Defining Affordability Upward," about Upper West Side Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal and her battle to create “affordable” housing for families earning over $150,000 per year. According to Councilwoman Rosenthal, these “are the families that took a chance on the neighborhood a few decades ago and made it what it is today. They’re not rich, just upper-middle class.”
In April, she negotiated for 20 units in a new housing development for households earning between 175 percent and 230 percent of New York City’s median income, equivalent to $147,000 to $193,000 per year for a family of four. Her rationale is that without “middle-income” housing, the Upper West Side will become a place for just the very rich and very poor.
Rosenthal’s prioritization of housing for people earning significantly above average raises the question: “What benefits are we reaping, as a society, from subsidizing housing for our upper-middle class citizens?”
Researchers tell us that affordable housing for lower-income families has numerous benefits, particularly when that housing is in a mixed-income environment like TF Cornerstone’s Upper West Side development (see image) is. It boosts children’s school achievement, cuts down criminal involvement, improves parent and child health, raises employment rates, ameliorates mental and emotional illness and decreases addictive behavior. In other words, affordable housing is a powerful remedy for the family trauma and social maladies associated with poverty.
But what benefits can we expect from price-restricted housing for upper-income earners?
Given our national economic climate and the growing recognition of collaborative, place-based and culturally-grounded approaches, it is only fitting then that the theme of the National CAPACD 14th Annual Convention was "The Movement for Economic Justice: Changing the Narrative Together," which requires us to live the theme of the Administration for Children & Families (ACF) Native Grantee Meeting—"Honoring Our Commitments to Native Families and Communities: Today and Tomorrow."
The National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development (National CAPACD) is a national intermediary dedicated to addressing housing, community, and economic development needs of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities. ACF's Administration for Native Americans (ANA) works to support all Native Americans, including federally recognized tribes, American Indian and Alaska Native organizations, Native Hawaiian organizations as well as Native populations in the territories of Guam, American Samoa, and the Northern Marianna Islands, to build their self-sufficiency.
Both of the gatherings thus provided a forum for diverse communities across the nation to come together to discuss the challenges their families are facing—often shared due to systemic and structural issues—and the unique ways each community is taking grassroots and community-based approaches to addressing these challenges.
Given our national economic climate and the growing recognition of collaborative, place-based and culturally-grounded approaches, it is only fitting then that the theme of the National CAPACD 14th Annual Convention was "The Movement for Economic Justice: Changing the Narrative Together", which requires us to live the theme of the Administration for Children & Families (ACF) Grantee Meeting—"Honoring Our Commitments to Native Families and Communities: Today and Tomorrow."
The National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development (National CAPACD) is a national intermediary dedicated to addressing housing, community, and economic development needs of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities. The Administration for Native Americans (ANA) falls under the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and ACF and works to support all Native Americans build their self-sufficiency, including federally recognized tribes, American Indian an Alaska Native organizations, Native Hawaiian organizations as well as Native populations in the territories of Guam, American Samoa, and the Northern Marianna Islands.
Both of the gatherings thus provided a forum for diverse communities across the nation to come together to discuss the challenges their families are facing—often shared due to systemic and structural issues—and the unique ways each community is taking grassroots and community-based approaches to addressing these challenges. Many of these approaches are grounded in cultural values, which is also what helps them to resonate across cultures. An exciting ongoing conversation from the National CAPACD convention is how long standing community development organizations could reconnect with their community organizing roots by building relationships with an influx of younger community organizing groups. This sort of intergenerational transfer of knowledge and mentoring are the essence of many of the projects shared at the ACF Native American Grantee Meeting that will help us as we reimagine a regional food system that restores ancestral abundance and knowledge.
Conferences and conventions are always such a bear to put on and those relationships that come out of it are sometimes more important than the workshop sessions themselves. For example, the County of Hawai‘i has begun to learn from the holistic approaches of the Pacific Asian Consortium in Employment (PACE) and the Little Tokyo Service Center, both out of Los Angeles in determining how to provide wrap around financial empowerment services in a way that is place-based and culturally grounded.
An always ongoing question is how do you best create spaces for both structured networking and relationship building? This is a critical question that needs to be addressed with thought and care in the structuring of any convention or conference so that there can be opportunities for support, tough yet honest conversations, inspiration, collaboration for the grassroots organizations that are implementing place-based and cultural-grounded approaches to address family self-sufficiency and resiliency. These are the efforts that will push us towards a truly just system that is relevant as it meets families where they are at to achieve their vision of genuine wealth.
Enjoy the charm, beauty and architectural character of the near western suburbs at the 8th Annual Wright Ride on Sunday, August 17, 2014.
The Oak Park Cycle Club, The Oak Park Regional Housing Center, and Visit Oak Park invite you to sponsor the Wright Ride 2014. One of the best ways to discover the delights of Chicago’s near western suburbs is on two wheels. A family-friendly event, the Wright Ride is not a race, but a leisurely jaunt through some of Chicagoland’s most beautiful tree-lined and architecturally rich communities. Cyclists of all abilities are welcome: whether you’re a novice, casual cyclist, or experienced long-distance rider, there’s something here for everyone. A plus is that cycling is an eco-friendly way to tour the wealth of historically significant homes and structures through the area.
With a choice of 10, 30, 50 and 62-mile routes, riders will be able to take in the scenery and charm of as many as 10 communities, including Oak Park, River Forest, Riverside, and Western Springs, with more than 25 intriguing landmarks – including a dozen designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. All routes begin and end on the newly renovated Marion Street in Downtown Oak Park – giving participants the opportunity to take advantage of the wide-range of dining experiences and specialty shops that set Oak Park apart.
Adults – $25 ($30 day of ride)
Children under age 12 – $5
Get your tickets online here!
The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) and Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) will hold a public meeting on the proposed Clybourn Avenue Complete Streets Project on Thursday July 24 at 6 p.m. The meeting will be held at Near North Unity Program, located at 1111 N Wells Street, First Floor.
Active Trans members and supporters will recall first hearing about this project last Fall, when Alderman Walter Burnett announced the first protected bike lane on a state-controlled roadway would be installed on Clybourn Ave. between Disivion and North. The announcement was made during an honorary street naming ceremony in memory of Bobby Cann, who was killed after being struck by a drunken driver while riding his bike on Clybourn Ave in May 2013.
The meeting marks the first opportunity for the general public to learn more about the Clybourn Avenue Complete Streets Project and offer input to help shape the final vision for this important street.
In addition to the potential for including the first protected bike lane on a state controlled roadway, the project is also notable because city planners have publically discussed the possibility of installing a concrete curb to separate people riding bikes from motorized traffic. While concrete curb separated bike lanes have begun to appear in other cities, Chicago has not yet seen this type of infrastructure on our streets.
Beyond improvements for people riding bikes, this is a true complete street project that also promises to enhance the street for people walking, taking transit, or driving.
All are welcome to attend the public meeting. Please don’t miss out on this opportunity to give input on a project that has the potential to set the tone for the future of walking and biking in Chicago.
Here’s the complete announcement from the City of Chicago:
Clybourn Avenue Complete Streets Project
CDOT and IDOT will be holding a public meeting to gather input for the Clybourn Avenue Complete Streets Project which extends from North Avenue to Division Street. Community members are invited to learn about and provide input regarding potential safety improvements to Clybourn Avenue and Division Street that will benefit all users (pedestrians, bicyclists, transit, and motorists). The meeting is scheduled for Thursday, July 24, 2014 at 6 PM at the Near North Unity Program (1111 N Wells Street, First Floor, Chicago, IL 60610). A presentation at 6:15 PM will be followed by opportunities to ask questions and provide input. The meeting is accessible to all persons and materials presented at the meeting will be made available on CDOT’s website (http://chicagocompletestreets.org) after the meeting.
We’re getting more and more excited about the Bloomingdale Trail, especially with the recent announcement that the Trust for Public Land has acquired land for a sixth neighborhood park connected to the trail.
The more than four-acre park will be located at the current site of the Magid Glove factory (1800 N. Ridgeway Ave.), adjacent to the Bloomingdale Trail’s western trailhead.
The past month also brought the news that the trail’s completion date will be June 2015, rather than this fall, thanks to our cold and interminable winter.
Still, the trail is nearly halfway complete, and construction is continuing at full speed.
Speaking of construction, on Saturday, July 19, Damen Ave. from Churchill Ave. to Willow St. will be closed to traffic from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. so that crews can work on the Bloomingdale Trail bridge over Damen.
You can keep up-to-date with trail construction on the 606 website.
And if you’re eager for more information about the trail, check out this hour-long presentation on the history of the rail line from a 606 event on July 8.
The presentation, given by School of the Art Institute historic preservation expert Jim Peters, covers the trail’s relationship with Chicago manufacturing going all the way back to 1851.
No time to watch the video? Here are some highlights:
- The Chicago & Pacific Railroad (later, the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad) originally built the Bloomingdale Rail Line in 1872. Its main purpose was as a freight line, transporting goods from the industries along the Chicago River. The line terminated at the great Montgomery Ward warehouse, where goods ordered from the Montgomery Ward catalogue were sent out across the country. The interior of the warehouse had railroad freight docks accommodating 24 trains!
- Goose Islanders protested the building of the Bloomingdale Rail Line tracks by tearing them up, thereby hindering construction. The railroad’s solution? To build all of the tracks on a Saturday night while neighborhood residents were out partying.
- The railroad tracks were originally built at ground level. In 1893, someone did a study of all of Chicago’s ground-level train crossings and found that these crossings caused 1,700 deaths in five years. Busier train lines in the Loop were soon elevated; the Bloomingdale Line only got its turn in 1913.
- At least 10 coal yards and six lumber yards were located along the trail. The available lumber also ensured that there were many furniture makers along the trail (later, these buildings were converted into lofts, which are still standing).
- Another use for all that lumber: musical instrument manufacturing shops. The Harmony Company along the trail was the world’s largest manufacturer of ukuleles.
- Other items manufactured along the rail line: adding machines, toys, yeast, wholesale milk, beer, ice, snuff and motorcycles.
Image courtesy of the Chicago Department of Transportation.
A consequence of huge transit expansions is that nearby rentals and other housing tend to escalate in cost, and lower income residents—who may have lived their entire lives in the same neighborhood—can get priced out. A recent report from the Metropolitan Area Planning Council warns that, for example, rents for apartments near the new Green Line stations in the ever-gentrifying Boston suburb of Somerville could rise as much as 67 percent—even before the new stops open.
Equitable transit oriented development (TOD) aims to prevent this by including housing that’s affordable to local residents in the development plan early on, and assuring that it remains so for decades to come.
“If you allow change to just happen, you run the risk of wholesale displacement of low-income folks,” says Tony Pickett, a key player in efforts to include long-term affordable housing in two of the nation’s largest TOD ventures: Denver’s FasTracks plan and Atlanta’s Beltline project. “We’re working to avoid that."
Conventional wisdom says that artists and gay people are tend to be pioneers in distressed neighborhoods, signs that change is ’a coming. While there have been some funny, and likely apocryphal stories about unlikely conservatives awkwardly wondering in public meetings if “we could get some of those gay people here” to boost a struggling town, that understanding hasn’t exactly been something people have tried to parlay into an economic development strategy.
Artists, on the other hand, are a hot commodity, with special artist housing and art spaces cropping up as part of many places’ revitalization plans.
There are good things about this, and bad things. Certainly recognizing the crucial roles of art in creating community, challenging oppression, and bringing beauty and identity to places that have been short on it, and therefore deciding that cultivating and supporting spaces for artists to affordably live and work is an appropriate public/charitable goal makes a lot of sense.
However, we need to be aware of a couple troubling trends underneath these celebrations of the transformative power of art, and community developers need to make sure they're not perpetuating them.
In the callow youth of the nonprofit sector, you needed two kinds of capital: (1) financial capital, because money does, after all, grease the wheels of change, and (2) social capital, because proving you could fill the courthouse steps or get the Governor to answer your call was a way to make up for not having enough money. But the NPO sector is burgeoning, the capacity for evaluation is still limited, and the power of social media has grown. Now there’s a new kind of resource you need: conceptual capital. It’s the stuff that drives your visibility in a crowded marketplace. So what is it, why do you need it, and where do you get it?
The Chicago region’s public transit system is long overdue for an upgrade. There are too many gaps that prevent people from moving around the region and getting to work, school and other destinations on time.
Many existing lines are outdated and in disrepair, disrupting riders' lives and schedules every day. Meanwhile, too many residents are forced into their cars, where they end up stuck in traffic while damaging the environment.
Everyone who lives or works in Cook County knows it’s a problem, but nobody has the money to solve it.
That’s why we partnered with the Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT) to launch Transit Future, a campaign advocating for the Cook County Board of Commissioners to adopt a robust revenue stream to fund the development of Chicago and Cook County’s transit system.
This new revenue source will allow the city and the county to take advantage of available federal funds and other existing financing tools to fund transit projects.
Such an investment in transit will save all commuters time and money, create jobs, connect residents to job centers, and benefit the entire regional economy.
Our vision will create a more livable, economically competitive and environmentally sustainable region built on a public transportation system that works for everyone.
Now we need your help! Sign up today to volunteer to be a Transit Future supporter in your neighborhood.
In the coming weeks and months, we’ll be working with volunteers in districts throughout Cook County to engage their local Cook County Commissioner and mobilize other transit supporters in their area.