LAF holds Chicago Housing Authority
to its promises for Cabrini-Green
With partner Sidley Austin LLP, LAF files a federal lawsuit against CHA to keep public housing
On Thursday, May 16th, the Cabrini-Green Local Advisory Council (LAC) filed a federal lawsuit against the Chicago Housing Authority in an effort to compel CHA to honor its promise to maintain the Francis Cabrini Rowhouses on Chicago’s North Side as 100% public housing. The LAC announced the suit at a press conference at its office at 530 W. Locust.
LAF Attorneys Lizzie Rosenthal and Lea Weems, along with
Cabrini-Green residents, at the May 16th Press Conference
After announcing that it would rehabilitate the Rowhouses as part of its Plan for Transformation, CHA moved existing residents out by relocating some families to developments on Chicago’s South Side and issuing temporary housing vouchers to others. Almost all the displaced families found themselves in racially and economically segregated neighborhoods with limited opportunities, waiting to return to the Rowhouses — as promised — when the rehabilitation work was done.
CHA rehabilitated one-quarter of the 586 units, but has now announced that it will convert the Rowhouses into a mixed-income development with only a small percentage of the units reserved for public housing residents.
“What the CHA has either failed or refused to recognize is that it doesn’t need to exclude even one public housing resident to create a ‘mixed-income’ community at the Rowhouses, which are in a desirable location and economically diverse area,” said Carol Steele, LAC President. “All public housing residents are now subject to a work requirement, and 50% of new admissions must make more than $22,000 a year for a family of four. That same family can make up to $59,000 a year while remaining financially eligible for public housing.”
The negative impact of CHA’s new plan is extensive and includes the following:
• Eliminating hundreds of units of low-income housing on Chicago’s North Side, thereby depriving deserving families of access to good schools, transportation, and jobs.
• Forcing families that formerly lived in the Rowhouses, an area ripe with opportunity, to remain in high-poverty, segregated areas of Chicago because their right to return has evaporated.
“The CHA’s plan violates the most basic sense of fairness on every level, and it is also illegal,” said Elizabeth Rosenthal of LAF, attorney for the LAC. “CHA has a well-established statutory duty to affirmatively further fair housing, but its new plan only perpetuates segregation.”
The Cabrini-Green Local Advisory Council is represented by LAF and Sidley Austin, LLP.