Saturday, December 13, 2014

December 13, 2014: Mary & Joseph to seek shelter at CHA's Lathrop Homes

Chicago Tribune photo:
Elian Morris, 14, and Amary Palmer, 16, portraying
Joseph and Mary, stop in front of a Lathrop apartment
Saturday to symbolize the lack of CHA affordable housing
on the North Side. (Abel Uribe / Chicago Tribune)

See more event photos below.
Our event -- LAS POSADAS in support of Public and Affordable Housing at Lathrop Homes -- on December 13 at Lathrop Homes was a huge success!

See the great photo gallery on the Today in Chicago Tumblr page.

Read the press coverage:

Chicago Tribune: "Advocates use biblical tale to cast light on lack of public housing" by Stepanie K. Baer. "'I want to be able to continue living in a place that’s affordable, and I want other people to have that opportunity too,' said longtime Lathrop Homes resident Carol Anderson. 'Everybody needs a place to call home."

Why were we there?

There are more than 750 vacant units here at the Lathrop Homes. Many have been vacant for 10 or 15 years. In 2008, residents pleaded with the Chicago Housing Authority to put 300 units back into service. CHA rejected that proposal, saying it would begin the redevelopment of Lathrop the next year, in 2009. In 2011, 86 families living north of Diversey were “consolidated” with the residents on the south end. Since then, the north end of Lathrop has been a ghost town.

Like Mary and Joseph, families have been turned away from the Lathrop Homes for the last 15 years. In 2000, CHA promised to renovate Lathrop as public housing, starting in 2001. But that rehab never began. And a freeze on all new leasing, imposed in 2000, and was never lifted. The residents who remained here were left in limbo. We were told they could remain here, move to another development or take a Housing Choice Voucher. When we asked what would happen to Lathrop, we were told that plan was “TBD.” Because of that uncertainly, many chose to move out. Today, there are only 150 families here, but we are determined to stay here and plan the future of our community.

The proposed Master Plan for Lathrop calls for 45 percent market-rate development. But the area around this development has experienced plenty of market rate development over the last 25 years, while thousands of low- and moderate income families have been displaced. Because of high rents, very few families are able to use Section 8 or Housing Choice Vouchers in this area. Dedicated public housing units are a precious resource in gentrifying neighborhoods.

The proposed Master Plan for Lathrop would eliminate 525 of Lathrop's 925 public housing units. The CHA has made no written commitment to replace these apartments – anywhere, ever. The Preserve Lathrop campaign demands that CHA include this commitment in the Lathrop Master Plan, and that all of these units be returned on Chicago’s North Side.

The CHA is hoarding hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars that could be housing families. Look at all the vacant units you see here. The CHA receives the same federal funding for each vacant unit that it gets for each occupied unit, year after year. How can this be? In 1998, Mayor Daley negotiated a special de-regulation agreement with the federal government that makes it impossible for HUD to hold the CHA accountable.

The Keeping the Promise Ordinance would create a local accountability mechanism by linking City funding for CHA-related projects to basic performance standards. Three months after the ordinance was introduced, the City Council Housing Committee has yet to schedule a hearing on it. (This despite the fact that the ordinance is already supported by of TWENTY-THREE (23) of the city's fifty alderman!


Participants and supporters are encouraged to call 
Alderman Ray Suarez at the 31st Ward Office:
(773) 276-9100. 

Suarez is Chicago’s Vice Mayor and chairman
of the City Council Housing Committee. 

Urge Alderman Suarez to schedule hearings
on the Keeping the Promise Ordinance immediately!

Full photo album and details of the event follow . . . .

Las Posadas procession at Lathrop Homes
Rev. Erik Christensen, pastor at St. Luke's Logan Square,
leads the singing along Clybourne Avenue.
(Photo courtesy Jeff Lucas)

Mary and Joseph lead the procession door to door
at Lathrop Homes, seeking shelter from the cold.
(Photo courtesy Jeff Lucas)

Numerous community leaders joined Las Posadas at Lathrop.
(front l-r) Leslie Willis, Kimball Avenue Church, Delia Ramirez; Humboldt
Park United Methodist; Alderman Joe Moreno, 32nd Ward; Alderman Scott
Waugespack, 1st Ward. (Photographer at rear unidentified.)
(Photo courtesy Jeff Lucas)

Why have so many been left out in the cold?
Rev. Bruce Ray, pastor at Kimball Avenue Church, explains
how doors remain closed to so many at Lathrop Homes
(Photo courtesy Jeff Lucas)

The crowd swells . . .
The procession continued up Leavitt Street, along the Chicago River.
(Photo courtesy Jeff Lucas)

Making the Bethlehem connection
At another of the closed doors of Lathrop Homes, Ellen Ray, , Executive
Director of Center for Changing Lives, asked participants to consider 
the ways many Chicago residents are at the mercy of the Chicago Housing
Authority (CHA): like being under the thumb of Empire.

(Photo courtesy Jeff Lucas)

Walking tall at Lathrop
Exhausted by their search, but still walking tall, Mary and
Joseph lead the final stages of this year's Las Posadas.
(Photo courtesy Jeff Lucas)

All reading from the same music
Las Posadas 2014 at Lathrop Homes began and ended at New
Life Community Church, where participants enjoyed refreshments and
 fellowship, did some focused study and organizing about Chicago's
"Keeping the Promise Ordinance" . . . and had a 
quick refresher on traditional songs for Las Posadas!
(Photo courtesy Jeff Lucas)

MEDIA ADVISORY - For Immediate Release - December 13, 2014

Contact: John McDermott, Logan Square Neighborhood Association, (773) 617-3949

Saturday afternoon procession of church leaders, Lathrop Homes residents will call attention to 'unjust' plan Mary and Joseph to seek shelter at North Side public housing development

Who: Current and former residents of the Lathrop Homes, a low-rise public housing development, along with local religious and community leaders. The Logan Square Ecumenical Alliance is organizing the event in cooperation with Lathrop leaders and the Logan Square Neighborhood Association.

What: Young people dressed as Mary and Joseph will lead a procession through the mostly-vacant development, reenacting the biblical story of Bethlehem, where Mary and Joseph searched for room at an inn before the first Christmas. They will stop at several doors to seek shelter, but at each door they will be turned away, until the final door, where they will be admitted and the community will celebrate.

The procession, called Las Posadas after the Spanish word for "inn," is a pre-Christmas tradition in parts of Latin America. Leaders say Saturday's event will symbolize the plight of Chicago families left in the cold by Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) policies.

When: TODAY - Saturday, December 13 - 2 to 4 pm

Where: Participants will gather at 2 pm at New Life Community Church, 2958 N. Damen (enter on Wellington) The first stop in the procession will occur at about 2:30 pm near 2900 N. Clybourn. (Television crews can meet the procession there.) After a walk of approximately 45 minutes, participants will return to New Life Community Church for a brief program and celebration. (To meet the procession en route, text 773-617-3949.)

Why: As they walk, participants will pass more than 750 vacant units. CHA promised to rehabilitate Lathrop as public housing, beginning in the year 2001. The rehab never started, but a freeze on leasing has remained in place ever since.
Like Mary and Joseph, low- and moderate-income families are being turned away from the Lathrop Homes, organizers said. "For more than a decade, hundreds of units at the Lathrop Homes have been left vacant, instead of being made available to families in need," said Lissette Castaneda, housing co-chair for the Logan Square Neighborhood Association (LSNA). "The proposed plans for Lathrop would compound this injustice by eliminating 525 public housing units with no written commitment to replace them and using 45% of the site for market-rate housing."

Participants will urge Mayor Emanuel and City Council Housing Chair Ald. Ray Suarez (31st) to act this winter to address the issues.

Local Aldermen Joe Moreno (1st) and Scott Waguespack (32nd) will participate in Saturday's event.

En espaƱol: Several leaders will speak in Spanish. Residents and community leaders will also be available for interviews in Spanish.

Photos: Photos will be available upon request after the event.

ON FACEBOOK:  LAS POSADAS in support of Public and Affordable Housing at Lathrop Homes

Photos and details of 2013 event: POSADA 2013: Is there room at the inn at the CHA’s Lathrop Homes? 

Related posts

On the heels of a December 10, 2013, community meeting that brought over 400 people out to demand an immediate opening of unused units to people in need of housing, on Saturday a coalition of churches, community organizations, and residents associations will hold a holiday Posada -- a Latin American traditional re-enactment of the search by the parents of Jesus for hospitality -- that does double-duty dramatizing the plight of people left in the cold by Chicago housing policies.

(See POSADA 2013: Is there room at the inn at the CHA’s Lathrop Homes? on the Remedy for Violence website.)

On September 11, 2014, we held a vigil to honor the memory o Mr. Ernesto Garcia -- to afford him the dignity he deserves and allow us all to grieve his death, and also as an opportunity to advocate for the needs of men and women who daily face exposure to harm because of housing insecurity.

(See Public Vigil for Ernesto Garcia )

Here are links to useful information on recent developments with respect to affordable housing in Logan Square.
(See Resource Page: Recent Developments in Affordable Housing in Logan Square