Protesters rally to save Logan Square SRO

“Logan Square for all,” a crowd of 100 protesters chanted. “Logan Square para todos!” The chants were among the demands shouted during a rally and candlelight vigil organized as part of an effort to keep open The Milshire Hotel, a single-room occupancy residence in Logan Square.

Hotel Chateau protest, March 2013

Affordable housing on the North Side? Aldermen hold the keys

With low-income housing in single-room-occupancy hotels around the city threatened by gentrification, the redevelopment of the Diplomat Hotel in Lakeview as supportive housing offers a viable model for the preservation of affordable housing, advocates say. A crucial element for the project’s success — one which seems to be missing in other North Side wards facing SRO loss — was support from the alderman. The Diplomat is now Fred and Pamela Buffet Place. Located at Belmont and Sheffield, it features 51 furnished studio apartments — a little more than half of the original SRO units — and amenities such as a fitness center, computer lab and rooftop and courtyard gardens. It is owned and operated by Thresholds, which provides mental health services for residents and other community members, as well as employment and independent living counseling.

Chicago lags behind in meeting low-income housing needs

With rents rising and incomes shrinking across the country, the Chicago-area has fallen behind other major metropolitan areas in creating new housing for its poorest families during the past decade. But why? It’s a question that jumped out at us while checking out some interesting new research by a Washington D.C.-based think-tank, the Urban Institute. We were using this interactive map to see how Cook County stacks up with other big cities when it comes to matching “extremely low-income” households with rentals they can actually afford. In Cook County, which is anchored by Chicago, the number of households that fit the extreme poverty status (that means a household of four is getting by on $22,750 or less each year, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) hasn’t exactly grown by leaps and bounds since 2000.

Bare-bones affordable housing plan gets the nod from Chicago aldermen

Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s affordable housing plan cleared its first hurdle Tuesday when it was approved 8-2 by the City Council’s Housing and Real Estate Committee. Absent from the measure was a proposed amendment that we wrote about last week that would have given aldermen more authority over how the city’s sister agency, the Chicago Housing Authority, spends down more than $661 million in unrestricted assets the agency is sitting on. The CHA’s swelling account could help offset some steep cuts to affordable housing that are on the horizon, supporters of the amendment say. Under Emanuel’s plan, the city would invest up to $1.3 billion in maintaining or creating housing through 2018. That’s roughly $800 million less than was committed under the city’s last five year-plan, which was rolled out by former Mayor Richard M. Daley in 2009.However, “there wasn’t an opportunity to make changes to the plan,” says Leah Levinger, the director of the Chicago Housing Initiative, a coalition of low-income housing advocates that rallied the aldermanic support. “The chairman wouldn’t take a vote on any amendments.”Now that the plan is moving forward without the change, Levinger says that the Chicago Housing Initiative is “looking to regroup with allies in the City Council who are sympathetic to the goal of preserving the low-income housing that remains in the city.”Nearly half of the council–22 aldermen–signed on to the proposal.