Friday, August 6, 2010

A Day in Support of Affordable Housing

On April 24 the ¡Humboldt Park NO SE VENDE! campaign, alongside the Bickerdike Redevelopment Corporation (BRC) organizing department, mobilized nearly 70 community residents and activists to collect 451 supportive signatures for the not-for-profit housing corporation’s Zapata Apartments in Logan Square’s Armitage Avenue Corridor. The petition drive included a day of conversation about the project, a door-knocking workshop, and two and a half hours of door-to-door canvassing from North to Central Park Avenues, Armitage to Kimball Avenues.

The massive petition drive was organized around the theme of supporting affordable housing in our community. As one volunteer, Ramón Sánchez, 18, stated: “I do support affordable housing. There are some people, like minorities, who need it because of the [bad] economy.”

Although, the ¡Humboldt Park NO SE VENDE! campaign focuses primarily in the Humboldt Park community through the organizing of residents to support the development of Paseo Boricua, the organization holds onto the idea that an attack on affordable housing anywhere is an attack on affordable housing everywhere. Nowhere is this more true than in the recent onslaught of misinformation surrounding Zapata Apartments, promoted by self-interest groups and individuals, such as the so-called “Armitage Neighbors Together” (ANT).

In 2003, community-led planning sessions through the Logan Square New Communities Program identified a shortage of affordable rental housing near under-enrolled elementary and middle-schools. BRC was asked by the Logan Square Neighborhood Association to be the developer of this much-needed project. As Joy Aruguete, Executive Director of BRC eloquently stated, “All of our projects is at the behest of community residents.” For 42 years, the aforementioned housing organization has just done that, building about 1,000 rental units of affordable housing in communities such as West Town, Hermosa, Logan Square and in Humboldt Park, where it just recently completed its massive three-building La Estancia project on Paseo Boricua.

Zapata Apartments has been in the process for nearly five years and just when it was gaining steam, ANT emerged with a long-awaited attack, even going as far as suing the city of Chicago for supporting the project. Throughout the years BRC has met with thousands of community residents in the area, even those who initially opposed the project. “We have no reason not to meet who are anti-affordable housing [people],” says Mrs. Aruguete. However, it is not dialogue that this opposition is seeking. Many of ANT’s members are real-estate developers angry at the prospect of a community developing on its own terms without the need for the ridiculous profits that have displaced thousands of working Puerto Rican and Latina/o families from Logan Square and Humboldt Park.

In a lawsuit filed just moments after ANT officially applied for a non-profit status, the group claimed that Zapata was an “unconstitutional re-zoning of certain property” and includes “invidious spot zoning,” or in other words, complete disregard of the surrounding nature of the community. In actuality, the project itself will fill lots that have been vacant for two decades with 1-3 bedroom apartments and even play lot for community youth. Furthermore, the possible tax revenue generated from the project could reach up to $72,000 a year, when there was once none. Also, the units will be priced 50% below of the median area income.

In response, BRC addressed the major concerns specified in the lawsuit and is still continuing with the zoning process. The petition that they have put out also seeks to gain some Tax Increment Financing (TIF), which is all too rare for affordable housing in Chicago, for the project in the 35th Ward.

Originally published in La Voz del Paseo Boricua, May 2010 and


Anonymous said...

I wonder why the so-called (note the hypocrisy here) No Se Vende collected signatures in Humboldt Park as a counter to ANT's signatures in Logan Square, where the project is proposed? ANTs claim the project is too big, too dense, too expensive for the area where proposed. Maybe there's an appropriate location at Central Park and North Ave.

Xavier Luis Burgos said...

Hypocrisy? No, a simple look at a map would answer your question. Much of the Humboldt Park Redevelopment Area sits in the 26th Ward, which is also where one of the three building projects of Zapata Apartments will be situated. In other words, the area that ¡Humboldt Park NO SE VENDE! works in has the same Alderman that Zapata will be located in (Which is the 26th Ward, which also incorporates some parts of Logan Square along with Humboldt Park). Thus, ¡Humboldt Park NO SE VENDE! was working in its area.

Also, the organization holds the view that an attack on affordable housing anywhere is an attack on affordable housing everywhere.

Anonymous said...

The hypocrisy is your use of "so-called" when referring to the ANT organization, but not for other organizations mentioned.

To follow your logic, you would support an affordable high rise project next to your home, right? So as not to attack affordable housing everywhere, right?

If a business (white or latino owned) wanted a zoning change on Paseo Boricua and it had a great deal of support from people who lived around Ashland and Erie, but not those around Division St., that would be just fine with you because they're in the 26th ward, right?

What will you do when wards redistrict again next year?

Xavier Luis Burgos said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Xavier Luis Burgos said...

Any affordable housing project should be at the behest of the community that resides in the community. I completely support affordable housing, especially if they are projects that incorporate as much of the longtime community residents and organizations/leadership in the process, which Bickerdike did/does.

To my knowledge, the 26th Ward is not going to be redistricted any time soon. Nonetheless, if that was the case, it would be much difficult to help sway any Alderman, especially that of the ward that HPNSV works in, to support a project that is not in her/his district. Nonetheless, the Alderman of the 26th Ward oversees parts of Humboldt Park and Logan Square, which made it politically logical to conduct a petition drive to motivate him for further support.

Lastly, many residents, especially longtime residents, see Armitage Avenue as part of the Humboldt Park/ Puerto Rican & Latina/o community, which also made it logical to conduct a petition drive in the area, because HPNSV is trained to do work with those populations. HPNSV does work with the Puerto Rican community, which iscentered on Paseo Boricua but not limited to that area. One also has to understand that 1,500 petitions were collected for Zapata in that area before HPNSV collected petitions, so support was strong except for real estate developers (of course) and greedy and racist new residents. If it bothers you that people in (I'm assuming, but I could be incorrect) in your area supported Zapata - well democracy does not work that way. People supported the project and it continues to be underway.

Thank you for your comments. If you have any more questions on the organization HPNSV or Bickerdike's project, please direct them to those organizations: and