Transforming CHA: Washington Park Wants Answers
Beauty Turner, Assistant Editor
Washington Park Local Advisory Council President Mary Wiggins is facing a dilemma. She is concerned and wondering, searching high and low for an answer to a question that lays heavy on her mind like a wrecking ball against a Chicago Housing Authority wall.
She is confused and a bit puzzled why Saint Edmund’s Church Association, a group contracted by the CHA, will not rehab or open up a stretch of closed public housing row houses that dot the South Side like a bunch of choir lines, all in straight rows. Wiggins would prefer that residents live in the rehabbed row houses instead of the high rise at 62nd and Calumet, which now houses approximately 200 families.
Wiggins said, “I’m wondering why they won’t open up and rehab the smaller units such as the row houses and the 3- to 7-story walk ups? Its over 100 units that have lain dormant and unoccupied for almost 4 years now.
“We need them open so that my the residents that reside in Washington Park can begin to occupy those units instead of keeping the high rise open.
She added that these places have been unoccupied much too long. She feels that it would be in the residents’ best interest if CHA rehabbed the row houses and the walk ups that stretch from 46th Street and Indiana Avenue to 62nd Street and Calumet Avenue.
A resident who asked to remain anonymous said, “They need to put the residents in the row houses and the walk ups. Because with the high rise being the only one on this side, it sticks out like a big red sore thumb. Just look at it from the El - the Green Line. You can see (the building) a mile away.
I telephoned St. Edmund’s Village, located at 63rd Street and Michigan. A spokesperson for St. Edmund’s told me that all the units located on 62nd Street and Calumet Avenue and along Michigan Avenue are in the process of being rehabbed. Right now, the spokesperson said they dont know whos going to occupy those rehabbed units.
I was told to call back at a later date for updates concerning those properties.
I also called CHA St. Edmund’s Redevelopment office Director W.D. Billings, who said that St. Edmund’s is working with CHA on a joint venture concerning the properties that stretch from 62nd Street and Calumet Boulevard to Michigan Avenue.
“We have plans on redeveloping and rehabbing the row houses into town houses with the tax credit increment for families in the community as well as for other families that are not in the community. It will be for 50 percent to 60 percent of the median-income level.