September 30, 2005

Northpoint Update

It's my understanding that AIMCO is in the process of replacing the current manager. Special thanks to the tenants who had the courage to be honest with those who needed to hear the truth. And a thanks to AIMCO for seeking the truth. We should offer our support to the challenges that lay ahead. I'm going to really try to be optomistic that AIMCO and the new manager will work with the tenants and the community to make this a real neighborhood.

The End Of The Tour

From a neighbor:



“The City of Chicago is hosting a National USGBC (Green Building Conference) and tour of Chicago's Green Building Inventory. My 3 flat on Ashland is one of two private projects that have reached an international/national standing. We were on the tour until NOH had 5 shootings in the last 4 weeks at or around the intersection of Jonquil and Ashland. On Sunday 8/28/05 we had two gentlemen from US EPA and US Energy Star stop by my building to talk about several new projects that I am doing and the current type of building models they are using. It was about 5:30 PM, and my wife was letting them into the building when multiple shots rang out from the Jonquil and Ashland intersection and a black SUV tore up the street past the house. All three of them hit the sidewalk, needless to say the meeting and walk through my building lasted about 10 minutes, the gentlemen invited me to stop by a safer place to have a meeting. “

To abbreviate the total email dialogue, my neighbor called the aldermans office the next day, Monday 8/29/05. The person who answered the phone wasn’t aware of the shooting the day before. So he left a message for the alderman to call about the issue. He followed up again on Tuesday 8/30/05 and spoke with the same person and was told that he would get a call. He called again on Monday 9/26/05 and left a message. He received a call back the same day asking for Dan X, and told the caller that he was George X and asked who was calling. It was the Aldermans office returning a call to Dan X. Both men have the same surnames and somehow the phone numbers and names had gotten confused. Again, my neighbor had to outline the shooting incident, and his subsequent unanswered month old calls. Not understanding the urgency of the matter, the representative from the alderman had been instructed to ‘set up something with the police to cover the visit’ and asked for the date.

My neighbor then informed the aldermanic rep that the tour of his building had been long canceled because no one had returned his calls, and he could not offer the tour any assurances, and that Rogers Park had missed out on the National Exposure of 120 to 150 professionals from across the US. He was told to set it back up; the Alderman wanted the tour. Unfortunately, the tour information packet and schedule was already in print and his building had been excluded. To quote my neighbor: “It is truly unfortunate that RP will miss out on the great positive press coverage because of a few bad buildings. This is a prime example of where the negative press coverage of RP continues to present itself, and we have missed the chance to accent a positive project, and make a positive impact in the press.”

Addendum:

My friend finally received a response from the alderman.
The salutation was "Dear Dan".
Okay, so the name on the message was never corrected. Sadly, the alderman wanted to know why my neighbor was somehow blaming him for the cancellation of the tour. He went on to state that since my neighbor had “…been active in the neighborhood for a long time…”and that he was “…confused as to why…’’ my neighbor...”didn’t make the request directly to the 24th District, either to the Community Policing Office or the Commander himself.”

Do we need all this chaos and confusion? Tomorrow night people will gather at restaurants and bars in other neighborhoods without police escorts. Tomorrow night we will hear the familiar signal whistles, yelling, screaming, the sound of glass shattering on concrete, possible gunshots and subsequent sirens.

What is wrong with this picture? It's North of Howard, and we need attention desperately. We’re tired of our pride and hopes being shattered by decades of blatant abuse. Yes, abuse, neglect and broken promises. This once beautiful neighborhood was traded and cashed in on by the profiteers of the poor.

Please don’t confuse the situation. Only two people were at my neighbors door that day. It took only two people to make the decision that this neighborhood is not safe. That was the end of the opportunity for my neighbors to proudly host a tour of their home on a national level.

The time for ‘democratic’ action is long overdue. We will gather, and we will formulate our action plans because this is our home and we’re not going to leave.


"Time to hesitate is through
No time to wallow in the mire”
Jim Morrison - Doors

September 29, 2005

Final Formal Proposed Zoning Meeting

Tonight will be the final in the series of proposed zoning meetings. It will be held here:

September 29, 2005
7:00 p.m.
Chicago Public Library Rogers Park Branch
6907 N Clark Street
Subject Area (South of Touhy, West of Paulina to Morse, then West of Clark)
Boundaries: Touhy, Paulina, Morse, Clark, Wallen, Ravenswood, Columbia, Ridge

With permission, I’m linking you to another view of some of the proposed zoning and issues concerning your future neighborhood.

The subject is zoning. Please keep comments to the issue which is zoning.

September 28, 2005

Cline's Press Release

NEWS RELEASE


Chicago Police Department


Philip J. Cline David J. Bayless

Superintendent of Police Director of News Affairs

Superintendent Cline Announces Pilot Program
to Install Cameras in Squad Cars, Expands Entrance
Exam Access to Strengthen Diversity


For Immediate Release
September 28, 2005

Chicago Police Superintendent Philip J. Cline today outlined several steps the Chicago Police Department has implemented to enhance mutual and understanding between police officers and members of the community. Some of those initiatives include making the entrance exam more accessible, bolstering training and introducing a pilot program to install cameras in Chicago Police squad cars.

“This summer, we have engaged the community in an ongoing discussion about traffic
stops, about courtesy and demeanor and about officer and citizen accountability,” said Superintendent Cline. “While we continue our remarkable work to reduce crime, prevent violence and strengthen the quality of life in all of Chicago’s communities, we also must be ever mindful of the work we need to do to build mutual trust between the police and those we serve.”

Today, the Department announced today that it would launch a pilot program to install
cameras in a minimum of 12 squad cars.

The commitment stems from community feedback and from a desire to take every step
necessary to ensure that traffic stops occur safely and professionally.

Superintendent Cline has formed a committee that is visiting other jurisdictions, crafting policy regarding how the cameras will be utilized and is seeking funding sources to expand the pilot program and install cameras on a more permanent basis.

Preliminary estimates indicate that equipping one squad car with digital video capacity could cost up to $5,000. There are currently 3,000 marked and unmarked cars in the Department’s fleet. The Department will aggressively seek state funding for the program and will explore what Federal grants are available.

With an eye toward strengthening diversity within the ranks, Superintendent Cline also announced measures to make the Chicago Police entrance exam more accessible.

Next year, the exam will be administered once a quarter, instead of just once or twice a year.

“I am proud of our efforts to further diversify the Chicago Police Department,” said
Superintendent Cline. “I have asked faith leaders and elected officials to assist us in our ongoing recruiting efforts. I have restored the cadet program to encourage more young people to consider careers in law enforcement. If we can make the application and testing program more accessible and open, then we can strengthen diversity.”

Over the next two years, every Chicago Police officer will receive updated diversity
training. This is part of a broader effort to provide all officers with the latest instruction at the academy on a variety of subjects.

Over the short term, officers will receive updated training on the collection of data on traffic stops via video streaming. The updated videos will reaffirm the Department’s strict prohibition of any form of bias based policing. Superintendent Cline also underscored the important role supervisors play in identifying potential patterns of behavior.

“Our supervisors are sworn to be ever-vigilant in their efforts to identify any kind of pattern of behavior that may indicate whether an officer is engaged in bias-based policing,” said Superintendent Cline. “We know that nearly every Chicago Police officer conducts his or her work well within the law and within our rules and regulations. However, it’s our supervisors’ responsibility to be vigilant and pro-active in this area.”

SAVE OUR PETS AND OUR HOMES

There is something sadly amiss with this threat too. Many NP residents have physicians letters stating their pets are a vital part of their well-being. Many NP residents have physicians letters stating they should NOT be climbing stairs. Is there an end to this harassment? Why don't they tend to screening their tenants better? Why don't they constructively work to be a part of the community?

Tonight's meeting is for Northpoint Residents ONLY
************************************************************************************

PLEASE HELP SAVE OUR PETS AND OUR HOMES!!!!

We the residents of Northpoint Apartments, managed by AIMCO/HUD, are being threatened with the termination of our leases (within 10 days of written notices we have received) if we do not get rid of our pets in the ten-day period.

This is an outrage!!!!
North point tenants have had pets reside in their units for many years. The previous and current Management of Northpoint were fully aware of this, impliedly agreed to our having pets and we believe they have therefore “waived” the right to insist on strict compliance with our written leases. However, recently, Northpoint/AIMCO/HUD Management issued letters to individual tenants to get rid of their pets within 10 days or else face court eviction. There are sound legal theories that we believe protect tcnants from this type of threats and harassment. This has prompted tenants to action by stating:


“HECK NO WE WON’T GO!”

We ask that you, the residents and surrounding neighbors. stand in unity with the pet owners of Northpoint Apts to petition Northpoint/AIMCO/HUD to continue to allow residents to have a pet reside in their units to allow a comfortable living environment for the Northpoint families. We hope that Northpoint/AIMCO/HUD will meet with tenants and come to a mutual agreement. This meeting could be a start in building a good working relationship between management, residents and the Northpoint Tenant Working Group, to ensure the availability of safe and decent housing in our community.

The results of this action if not favorable for the tenants could cause:

1. Families to become homeless,
2. Animals that are placed in shelters could be put to sleep (killed) if not quickly adopted due to overcrowded shelters,
3. Extreme stress and discomfort to children and adults.

Even in New Orleans, Katrina Victims were rescued with their pets because they would not leave without them.

We especially ask that tenants with pets and all others help us with this cause.

We urge Residents to Come Join and Support Us!!!
Northpoint Tenants Rights Working Group
Metropolitan Tenants Organization
All Tenants/Buildings Meeting
The Abundance of Mission Church of God & Christ
7620 N. Rogers
Wednesday, September 28, 6:00PM

Willie

“Willie was born March 14, 1945. He was the 6th of nine children born to Johnny and Bessie whom both preceded him in death.

He graduated from high school in 1966 and shortly thereafter moved to Chicago, Illinois where he made this a permanent home.

On Wednesday, September 7, 2005 he departed this world.”

My knowledge of Willie is limited to phone conversations with him and reminiscences from friends and neighbors. My knowledge is limited to the words quoted above that were printed on his funeral card. Willie was a long-time Northpoint resident.

My understanding of his life circumstances is limited to bits and pieces of paper I saw...Medicare documents, a medical history of arthritis, emphysema, high blood pressure and diabetes. One document was a discharge summary from a hospital outlining the amputation of his “great toe” due to complications of diabetes. The date was February 1994. There was a booklet with entries from a home health care worker and a list of medications and schedules.

Friends say Willie struggled down the three flights of stairs less frequently to see them. When he did venture out, he was tired and weak from the effort. His respiratory and circulatory systems were under duress.

An upset neighbor called on September 6 to tell of paramedics going to Willie’s apartment. I later learned that another neighbor who often looked in on him had found him.

Willie, was placed on a high third floor in the rehab move. It’s beyond comprehension how this decision could have been made. Was it another of those judgment calls I’ve heard where someone declares ‘you don’t look sick’?

Against the living room wall was his oxygen tank. Propped near the the front door was Willie’s crutch and orthopedic shoe.

Willie W 001 Willie W 002

From what I saw, and from what I’ve heard, Willie was isolated on that high third floor. Sadly enough, there are other tenants like Willie who have been moved and left to their own devices on upper floors.

None of us have control of our fate. But those who are bound to provide care, shelter and welfare for disabled and elders are accountable to the method in which these provisions are carried out.

Willie's story is not unlike many of the pathetic living conditions of low-income residents I've written about. Even though Willie lived in a newly rehabbed apartment, he too was robbed of his dignity and his freedom by ignorance and negligence. Willie took a risk every time he tackled those stairs. Did he have a choice? Something is sadly amiss here.

Rest in peace Willie.

September 27, 2005

There is Here

I think it should be obvious to anyone who has read my two recent postings on Toni’s blogsite, that I am not a writer and I am trying not to pretend to be one. So I will apologize in advance for all the grammatical errors that will continue to show up in the pieces that Toni has so graciously allowed me to post on her site. My commas won’t always be in the right place, but I hope my heart will continue to be.

I watch people. I study them in fact. It’s an old habit of mine having spent 31 years in N.Y., where in most neighborhoods, there were outdoor cafes that encouraged you to people watch. In N.Y., during the 70’s and 80’s when the city was a dangerous place, this was a sport, practically an art form, but it was also an unspoken, urban survival skill. You developed peripheral vision, taught yourself how to identify trouble before it happened, how to look without being seen and how not to look like a potential victim.

You learned about body language. You had to because on the street, on the subway and buses, it was all about body language. You either looked like an easy target or someone that wasn’t worth the effort. It’s occurred to me that over the last year, sadly, I’ve begun to wear that armor again. This is an instinctive mind-body response to a perception of danger. A comfortable, physical vocabulary that is never forgotten, like getting on a bicycle after a long absence.

I have no control over this impulse. My senses are on automatic pilot now. It happens at the Marathon Station, at the juncture of Rogers and Howard,
100_0610

in the alley behind the partially burned out building on Bosworth,
100_0609

all through the shortcut to Evanston which takes me past the Gale School
NP and JD 018 JGD 009
and across our street, where last year there was an open air drug bazaar.
NP and JD 003

With my head firmly planted in the sand, I rationalized that it was someone else’s problem and that someone else would fix it. The problem was over there.

100_0608

But something has changed. A group of tenants moved into the building next door to us a few months ago and our life has not been the same since. Gathering in the back stairway, just under our bedroom window and the porch we used to spend time on, drinking by these tenants starts in the morning and continues all through the night. It doesn’t matter what day of the week it is and there is no concern with the volume level or the content of the conversations. There is talk about guns, obtaining guns, shooting people, getting shot, escaping from the police and from others who are shooting at them.

Two kids from a different tenant were asked not to climb over our iron fence at the alley. The police were called, yet despite their presence, the father and his 6 or 7 children proceeded to scream and yell and hurl horrible racial epithets and vile curse words at both myself and my fiancé. We were shocked and speechless.

I don’t usually shy away from normal confrontation with reasonable people. But my perception is that their values and their view of life are very different than mine. Their volatile unpredictability holds me hostage. Responding, as you could in a normal neighborly spat, is not an option. It’s not worth the risk. Over there is now over here.
Something else has changed. There is a fire that is starting to burn in my belly and I’m getting a little tired of being pushed around. As my head is slowly emerging from that hole in the sand, I’m beginning to realize that benign neglect can wreak just as much havoc on a community as the random spray of bullets from an automatic weapon.

Gary Fuschi

********
Special thanks to Gary for sharing his insights with such eloquence, and for being a good neighbor to know. Although I have to disagree with his allegation that he isn't a writer!
T

September 26, 2005

Residents Check Facts on Paulina Zoning

Below is a conversation between Mike Luckenbach and Joe Moore. Following that are phrase by phrase rebuttals from Hugh Devlin. The reader may draw his/her own conclusions. The link to the tables in question is at the bottom of the post.
*************************************************************************************

Luckenbach writes:
Joe
The need on Paulina is to return to what the street was designed as : Street level retail with residences permitted on upper floors. No Special use or other varaince is permitted without a change process which, among other things, involves community input/oversight. Paulina should stay zoned as is. The reason for all the vacant stores , not only on Paulina but Howard street as well, is the serious over concentration of very low income housing and social service/religous oarganizations (Womens shelter in old garage building; storefront church/soup kitchen; etc), in the north of Howard neighborhood. What I'm saying may not sound "politically correct' to some but this is about the QUALITY OF LIFE FOR EVERYONE WHO LIVES NORTH OF HOWARD. I think it was Einstein who said," Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result". We need to be working toward creating a true mixed-income community, not continuing in the direction of the FAILED past and present!
Mike
NHNA
---

Subject: Re: 7600 N. Paulina
Luckenbach writes:
Were/have the property owners on Paulina been given official/legal notice of this proposed change. Also, from your response, it seems that the ward zoning changes being proposed, are based on recommendations by the Metropolitan Planning Council. If so, what did they base the proposed zone change for the 7600 block of N. Paulina on?
---
AldMoore wrote:
Mike,

No official/legal notice has been given because nothing has been introduced in the City Council. As I have said repeatedly, the zoning changes are merely proposals for community discussion. After our community process has been completed, I will introduce into the City Council those proposals which enjoy community support.

MPC's proposal for a new B2 classification on Paulina is based on community concern about the lack of business development on the 7600 Block of Paulina and a glut of vacant commercial space in the area in general. The current zoning classification on Paulina permits residential development, but prohibits it on the first floor. The proposed B2 zoning classification, which is a new zoning classification in Chicago, would still permit commercial development, but leave open the possibility of first floor residential development. That is essentially the only difference between the existing zoning classification and the proposed classification.

Theoretically, you could do an SRO development on Paulina now. The only difference is that it would have to provide for commercial space on the first floor. And to my knowledge no one is planning an SRO development at this time.

I hope this clarifies matters for you.

Joe
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The dialogue begins:

No official/legal notice has been given because nothing has been introduced in the City Council. As I have said repeatedly, the zoning changes are merely proposals for community discussion. After our community process has been completed, I will introduce into the City Council those proposals which enjoy community support.

MPC's proposal for a new B2 classification on Paulina is based on community concern about the lack of business development on the 7600 Block of Paulina and a glut of vacant commercial space in the area in general. The current zoning classification on Paulina permits residential development, but prohibits it on the first floor.

Hugh: Not true. The current zoning, B1-3, does not PROHIBIT residential on the 1st floor, it is a special use. Here Moore is trying to make it sound like currently residential on the 1st floor is impossible. He is deliberately twisting the crucial distinction between prohibited, permitted and special uses.

Joe: The proposed B2 zoning classification, which is a new zoning classification in Chicago, would still permit commercial development, but leave open the possibility of first floor residential development.

Hugh: Here Moore tries to makes it sound like the proposed change is to accommodate community demand for retail. But the change makes it EASIER to skip the retail space. Under the current zoning residential on the first floor is a SPECIAL use; under the proposed zoning it is a PERMITTED use. Moore's proposed zoning eliminates the Zoning Board of Appeals hearing required for special uses and permits residential on the 1st floor BY RIGHTS. It eliminates a step: the opportunity for community input, meager and pathetic as it is. So how is this in response to the community's desire for retail?


Joe: That is essentially the only difference between the existing zoning classification and the proposed classification.

Hugh: Not true. BOTH the existing and the proposed zonings allow for residential on the 1st floor. Perhaps his point that the distinction between permitted and special uses is a relatively minor difference considering how easy it is to get approval for a special use.

Hugh: Not true. There are other differences between the current (B1) and proposed (B2) zonings. Look at the use tables. Read down and compare the 1st two columns. For example, assisted living goes from special to permitted. Veterinarian's offices, kennels, lodges, and private clubs go from prohibited to special.

Joe: Theoretically, you could do an SRO development on Paulina now.

Hugh: Not without a public hearing and approval of an application for a special use. Perhaps he is making the point that the special use approval process is not a real impediment. A special use is a gimme for developers. A Zoning Board of Appeals hearing is required, but the revised zoning law eliminated the written notification of immediate neighbors of the time and place of the public hearing.
This is a threat. Moore is reminding us once again that he is the Zoning Czar Of Rogers Park, as he does in his opening remarks at every zoning-related neighborhood meeting. He is reminding us that he can snap his fingers and open an SRO wherever he pleases.


Joe: The only difference is that it would have to provide for commercial space on the first floor.

Hugh: Not true. The developer can simply apply for a special use, purchase a one-paragraph letter of support from the Alderman, get it approved, and is then free to do as he pleases on the 1st floor.

Joe: And to my knowledge no one is planning an SRO development at this time.

Joe: I hope this clarifies matters for you.

Hugh: Moore consistently shirks his responsibility to educate his constituents as to their rights and powers under the zoning laws, and instead chooses to take advantage of the public's lack of understanding of zoning to manipulate. I despise that.

Joe

Hugh:
You guys need to learn how to read the use tables
to cut through the mis-information you are being fed.

*************************************************************************************

There are two more meetings on the proposed. Please try and attend. It's your neighborhood, and for many its your lifetime investment.

Monday
September 26, 2005
7:00 p.m.
St. Scholastica Academy
7416 N. Ridge Blvd.
Subject Area (North of Touhy to City Limits, West of Paulina to Western)

Thursday
September 29, 2005
7:00 p.m.
Chicago Public Library Rogers Park Branch
6907 N. Clark St
Subject Area (South of Touhy, West of Paulina to Morse, then West of Clark)
Boundaries: Touhy, Paulina, Morse, Clark, Wallen, Ravenswood, Columbia,
Ridge

September 25, 2005

Infinity Zone

This post is will not resolve zoning issues but it will certainly provide the thought formulation process of what went wrong here, and what is still going wrong. When owners purchase perfectly good buildings and jump on the low-income, easy-money bandwagon, many do not give a damn about their tenants or the properties. With the soft rental market, many property owners jumped on the section 8 voucher line. Proponents of the low income bandwagon came here from their cushy homes outside this area and protested, and this is the result. In good conscience, they should return with signs and loudspeakers and protest in front of these bad buildings about violations of human/tenant rights by these slumlords. It won't happen because it's easier to stand in front of private property and bitch about providing more low income apartments. Chances are they'll be safe there and the behavior will be condoned by the majority of the watchers. Where were they when three murders happend this summer? Where were they last night when a police officer was injured in the vicinity of Gale School aka the 'killing zone'?

Get out, take a walk, and count the number of subidized buildings on Jonquil from Bosworth west to the end of the boundary of Rogers Park. Is there one owner-occupied building there?

It's about time someone in the government started keeping track of where federal tax dollars are really going. And it's time the neighbors who reside in this little pocket make sure no more of this overbalance occurs with any proposed zoning issues. We aren't obligated to enable slumlords or to fulfill someone else's vision by just believing what we're told.
*************************************************************************************
Infinity signed my petitions in July and we exchanged phone numbers. Monday, September 19, she called and asked me to come see her. Entranceways tell a lot about a building and its occupants.

Marshfield/Jonquil foyer

So do the stairwells.
View for $1000/month rent

Her story began. Infinity’s marriage wasn’t working, so she packed up her three children and moved back to Chicago in June 2004. She was staying with a relative, but problems arose so she and her kids moved into a shelter, Cornerstone, at Broadway and Clifton. During this chaos, Infinity landed a good job that paid over $30k/year and she dropped out of the bracket for transitional living. A flyer from a social service agency led her to a pleasant seeming woman named Petra Hallbeck who works for Cornerstone Realty. Petra inquired about Infinity’s credit, and asked for a letter regarding her current situation. She befriended a desperate woman.

Infinity needed to find a home since she wouldn’t qualify for residence in the shelter for much longer. Petra stated that her credit problems could be worked around and she had the perfect, spacious place for her. Petra brought Infinity to this apartment building at 7702 N Marshfield. It was clean when she first saw her future home. Infinity was told this was a tax credit building, not subsidized housing or Section 8, that houses individuals making under the $37k income level.

The walk through was during the day, the street was quiet, the halls were clean and empty, all appeared to be normal. The apartment was just as Petra had described with the exception of a few repairs that Cornerstone would make. She inquired about the neighborhood. With three children, a mother wants to know if it’s a safe place to live. She was reassured that there hadn’t been any problems in ages and the neighborhood is changing.

So a desperate, yet grateful, Infinity managed to scrape together the $2,200 for security and first months rent ($1,000) each plus a $200 deposit for a pet. She paid rent for April, May and June yet none of the promised repairs were made.

The promise of a new security door never came to fruition. The repairs to the enclosed front porch were never made nor were the water leaks in the bathroom ceiling. She had an outrageous heating bill at the end of spring. The misfit storm window in the porch has 1/4 inch shortfalls on either side. According to Infinity, the other apartments were inspected by HUD and the hallways were cleaned, repairs were made prior to the visit and the list of required repairs following the inspection were carried out. Other than call city inspectors, she still had to scrape together the market rate rent. There was no subsidy or alleged government watchdog for her. As soon as the HUD inspections were over, the halls became filthy again. At one point this summer, she told Petra about the vomit in the hall to which Petra allegedly replied “Oh I know, I saw it last week.” Petra came to collect the rent checks but left the vacuum in the office.

Market Rate Bath

Having moved from a hot southern state, Infinity assumed the thermostat switch would turn on the AC. Guess what? Another fallacy!
Another broken promise Appearance of Central Air

Being a lot more savvy than Petra of Cornerstone aka Jay Johnson aka CIG figured, Infinity quit paying rent when she discovered she was the only one paying $1000 in a Section 8 building. When she had to step over human feces, vomit, sleeping bums, and avoid drug runners, she told Petra she should be paid to live there, not the other way around.

As with so many of these places, Infinity’s lease is with Cornerstone but she was scolded and told to make the rent check payable to Marshway M not CIG or Cornerstone. No doubt the building receives one government check for all apartments, so they have to keep the record clean and straight.
She sent her young son back to his grandmother fearing the gangs in the neighborhood. Her daughters were afraid to go out of the apartment.

Infinity and her kids were packing that night and moving into a shelter until they can return to that warm southern state where the air conditioning is installed and works.

I doubt that she felt any sadness as she walked down this dismal stairwell for the last time, do you?

Walk through this every day

September 24, 2005

Knock Down, Bag Out

Here’s a detour straight through the zoning issue. Just another reality others who don’t live here don’t comprehend:

Last night my friend from Northpoint was jolted out of a nap when she heard pounding in the building. It wasn’t a hammer or a child’s temper tantrum, it was a few policemen pounding on an upstairs door. She showed me the inner entrance door and the missing part. We’re assuming here that the people without keys who constantly jam the locks perhaps decided to remove the catch for assured entry.

Who removed the catch?

The apartment in question had a nice round mark from being pounded open, that is unless the tenant finally responded.

telltale mark

Obviously the neighbor across the hall wants to ensure he/she isn’t the problem so posted a note “not this door” for incoming traffic. Sorry it doesn’t show clearly.

Do Not Disturb

My friend didn’t see if anyone was removed from the apartment but did notice the police carrying out a bag.

If every tenant was like my friend, and others I know there, we would have a wonderful neighborhood.

September 23, 2005

Go Ahead and Ban the Foie Gras

I joined the Bally’s @ Gateway a few weeks ago and decided because it was so close, that I would walk there. I came home during evening rush hour and as soon as I crossed east under the viaduct, I felt that unwelcome rush of fight or flight adrenaline through my body. A train had just dropped the daily commuters onto Howard and in a quick scan I realized that there were various groups of menacing looking men and the occasional drunk or druggie, scattered all along Howard on both sides of the street. There seemed to be at least as many questionable types as there were commuters. Not a good ratio in my book. I experience that lopsided ratio a lot these days.

I recognized a woman who walked down my street every morning on her way to work. I always admired her perfect posture. But tonight, her shoulders were scrunched forward, head and eyes down and she was doing her best “I’m not looking at you so I’m invisible please don’t ask me anything I just want to get home quick pace shuffle”, as she ran the gauntlet of creeps from the el stop just past ”Around The Clock”. Her body language said it all and I agreed with her. As I watched her walk down Howard St, I thought about old, dusty and forgotten Hollywood sets, empty behind propped-up facades. I felt sad for her, for myself and our neglected little neighborhood. So much wasted potential.

I can envision a bustling, economically vital, lushly landscaped and tree lined, artsy, service and restaurant oriented thoroughfare. An avenue you could safely walk along east from the el and have everything you needed by the time you got home. Why can’t we have that? The ten year old housing boom has improved almost every other part of the city except ours. Ours is a neighborhood without amenities, and this gross imbalance will negatively impact future economic interest from condo buyers and investors alike, if it hasn’t already. And now, we all get to wonder whose block will get the SRO’s that are apparently in our future without our input. Are they afraid we just might be wise enough to say no?

Allowing the possibility of SRO’s to be placed in our neighborhood is so counterintuitive to attracting the investment we need along Howard and elsewhere, it makes you wonder what some people are thinking? Is there a new and improved version of SRO’s that aren’t magnets for criminals of all types and property value killers as they have been in the past? I wonder how the local real estate agents will try and put this on positive spin. I don’t think they can. There is nothing positive about it, for most of us.

Lakefront access and proximity has proven to be a magnet for investment everywhere else but here. I understand that a “critical mass” of new homeowners demanding services and restaurants are required for the investment in those services to thrive. From our back porch, 3 six flats are being converted to condos. I see more than 18 different criminals on our streets almost every day. We are dangerously close to losing control of our streets and our physical and economic well-being, if this continues unabated.

Something is broken in our little part of town and it needs to be fixed. The only amenities that are in abundance here are broken promises, escalating crime and stale, worn out ideas.

So today, if someone were to give me a choice of which issues are a priority right now, foie gras or SRO’s, I would say ” Go ahead and ban the foie gras”. I wouldn’t know what I was missing anyway.

Gary Fuschi

September 22, 2005

Zoning 101

Heather Campbell of Metropolitan Planning Council presented an overview of Zoning 101. The last ‘major rezoning’ was done in 1957. Photos of vintage houses next to newer, larger homes towering over them that were totally out of context with the neighboring architecture were presented. But, as we were informed, the tear downs and re-builds were legal.

We were given an overview of the volunteer teams who with cameras and surveys canvassed their ‘territory’. As Heather stated, some teams knew more about zoning than others; some turned in detailed information while others were much less detailed. This led some people to question the accuracy of the data.

I’m not going into too much detail so YOU will attend one of these meetings and hear and see for yourself. The current and proposed maps were on easels and in handout form and many residents had questions.

Questions/answers are not verbatim.

Q: If the data from some groups were more detailed than others, where’s the final tabulated data and how does one access it?
A: It’s not available to the community.
Q: If Paulina is re-zoned, are SRO’s permitted without community input/approval?
A: I don’t know, we’ll look it up. (The answer is yes - SRO’s do not require community approval with the proposed new zoning)
Q: Who from the alderman’s office is taking notes on our comments?
A: We’re listening and urge you to utilize the email functionality to comment to the ward.
Q: Howard Street is not rezoned, why?
A: DevCorp is working on Howard Street.
Q: Due to the abundance of nonprofits who have political influence how can we obtain the form and do a similar survey for comparison by regular residents?
A & Q: Why don’t you do it Toni and work with Michael Land?
A: OK

Joe did state that the recommendations were not written in stone, that apparently there was concern on the Paulina recommendation and further discussion would be held on that topic.

Perhaps if enough of you attend the next two meetings, you will want that form, or you will want a more in-depth reasoning process than simply accepting what volunteers submitted into an inaccessible database that spit out the new proposed zoning.

How many attended a meeting of 200 people in August, 2003 at Pottawatomie Park on this survey process?

Try to attend and come to your own conclusions and offer a unified effort to gather more accurate input.

Thursday
September 22, 2005
7:00 p.m.
Loyola Park Field House
1230 W. Greenleaf Ave.
Subject Area (South of Greenleaf, East of Paulina to Morse then East of
Clark)
Boundaries: Greenleaf, Lake Michigan, Granville, Sheridan, Rosemont,
Kenmore, CTA Red Line, Granville, Broadway/Sheridan, CTA Red Line, Lakewood,
North Shore, Glenwood, Pratt, Ashland, Wallen, Clark, Morse, Paulina

Monday
September 26, 2005
7:00 p.m.
St. Scholastica Academy
7416 N. Ridge Blvd.
Subject Area (North of Touhy to City Limits, West of Paulina to Western)

Thursday
September 29, 2005
7:00 p.m.
Chicago Public Library Rogers Park Branch
6907 N. Clark St
Subject Area (South of Touhy, West of Paulina to Morse, then West of Clark)
Boundaries: Touhy, Paulina, Morse, Clark, Wallen, Ravenswood, Columbia,
Ridge

September 20, 2005

Take the Damn Fiddle Away

It's your neighborhood folks. It's your home. What Hugh has unearthed appears to be right up the nonprofits gangways (pun intended) who are making a killing NOH from the government with every sign in sheet. SRO's are permitted with no community input, the commercial storefronts can be 'residential' (up here that means more low income). Think about it, the Visionary can tear down and build a tall, multi-unit for the 'poorest of the poor and the social outcasts'. Real estate agents should be getting a little concerned too. Once we're all shot up and the gangs have taken over, they'll spill into their nice little place next. Think about it. Joe's just the alderman, not your boss. You're paying his salary to ignore the blight, the murders, while he aspires to saving ducks. Think about the nonprofits who will gain as you lose. Think about it all. Don't get screwed like the Devon TIF screwed the taxpayers.
Voice your concerns tomorrow night,7PM, Gale School, 1600 W. Jonquil aka The Killing Zone.

Moore Reason To Quack
*************************************************************************************
Also carefully study the "use tables" and bring questions

Ward Zoning Remap

Resident control of the development of their neighborhood was THE big loser in last year's revision of the zoning law.

Another area in which residents had their rights to control their own neighborhoods was greatly curtailed is in the area of single-room occupancy facilities (SROs). The revised zoning law made SROs MUCH easier to establish.

In the old zoning law, SROs were a SPECIAL USE, which required a public hearing. The new law eliminates the public hearing for special uses, replacing it with a "review" by the Commissioner of the Department of Planning and Development (Significantly, this decision process was pulled from the Department of Zoning.)

Further, the new law makes SROs a PERMITTED USE in many more different types of zoning districts. Making something a permitted use eliminates even the DPD Commissioner's review. For example, the new zoning law makes SROs a permitted use in RT4 districts. RT4 in the new law replaces what you may remember as R4 in the old zoning law. It is probably the single most widespread residential zoning in Chicago. A developer in an RT4 district can open an SRO "BY RIGHTS": no hearing, no community meetings, no mail notification, no accountable elected official.

With regard to the zoning change proposed for N Paulina (from B1-3 to B2-3), SROs are a special use in B1-3 and a permitted use in B2-3.

September 19, 2005

Nero Fiddles as Rome Burns

From a neighbor:

Something I wrote to send out....you can put it on the blog if you like. Please sign my name to it

Nero Fiddles as Rome Burns

Someone else died the other night in Rogers Park. Murdered in cold blood in front of the Gale School, just around the corner from where we live. I was up at 3:00 a.m. when it happened. I heard the unmistakable rapid fire cracking sound of an automatic weapon, maybe 6 or 7 shots altogether. I waited for a response, more gunfire, but there was none. A short time later came the altogether familiar sound of various sirens, and then silence.

We live in the 49th Ward, just north of Howard and we hear these sounds almost daily now. These incidents happen. You hear about them from your neighbors or read about them in the paper. We came across an impromptu memorial on a street corner a few weeks ago where another young boy was killed. Stuffed animals, flowers and sad notes. Officials removed it because it was considered too negative.

I thought I was compartmentalizing these random incidents, properly filing them away in that place in my head where I don't have to think about them because it isn't happening to me or anyone I know. But I realized recently that I was wrong. It is happening to me and others that I know. It kind of sneaks up on you. Every loud noise is gunfire. You alter your usual travel route because it isn't safe anymore. Your sleep is affected because of the constant noise at all hours. You are constantly calling 911. You talk about crime almost everyday. And there is the slow, barely perceptible agitation that seems to take over your consiousness. I am afraid for my family and friends.

The streetscape has changed too. We used to take long walks with our dog. We don't do that much anymore. The streets here are now filled with panhandlers, drug addicts, prostitutes, gang members, drug runners on little bikes, gaudy expensive vehicles with inconsiderate drivers who regard traffic signals as a joke, and suspicious people with furtive glances on almost every corner.

Our neighborhood has deteriorated rapidly in the last year and so has our enjoyment of it. The police respond when called and are genuinely concerned. They are simply overwhelmed.

Our Alderman, Joe Moore, was on T.V. the other night fronting a bill prohibiting the sale of foie gras in Chicago because of the inhumane treatment the animals endure in the process. A noble cause and a sure headline grabber. Alderman Moore will probably get his cheap victory since this small industry lacks the political clout and lobbyist money needed to defeat it. Should the next amendment propose that Chicago not just be "foie gras free" but "meat free" as well. Don't all animals grown for food die in an inhumane death in one form or another? A debate for another day, perhaps.

Today, lofty Howard Street plans are shelved, rows of stores sit empty, people are being killed on our streets, drugs seem available on every street corner and the quality of life in our little corner of Rogers Park is being dictated by criminals. This is not the time for our Alderman to spend so much energy on an issue that affects less than one percent of his constituency. Most of us don't even know what foie gras is, but our Alderman has decided to make foie gras his priority.

Nero fiddles as Rome burns.

There is a time and a place for us to disagree with his decision.

Gary Fuschi

September 18, 2005

The Day After

The shrine is now on ‘private property’ behind the fence where Hudson’s mother lives.

murder9.17.5 003

This is a former Peoples Housing property taken over by IMC Properties who melted into East Lake Management, or Elzie Higgenbottom this summer. Thanks Higginson and Higgenbottom, keep those political donations coming in.

murder9.17.5 004 murder9.17.5 005

Here’s the phone number 312.842.5500 to lodge complaints about previous and current management style of housing felons. As long as he’s in the area, we’re all in jeopardy.
Here’s the phone number 773.338.5798 to demand a community meeting and air our grievances, not an aldermanic, social intervention of ‘feel goods’. We’re exhausted with feel good meetings.

While you’re at it, invite Northpoint,773.764.6707 the other 12 perpetrators of problems and the highly touted Jay Johnson, 312.602.6217, CIG/Cornerstone. Don’t forget to invite all those who have participated in making our life less than quality North of Howard. David Orr, HUD, IDHA, to name a few. Wonder if any of them feel any remorse? I’m not referring to remorse over Hudson’s murder, rather the calculated murder of a neighborhood for financial and political gain.

Last but not least, don’t forget to include the Visionary who seeks to house the ‘poorest of the poor and the outcasts of society’. That’s why he doesn’t live North of Howard, those outcasts are too much for him, but the government checks aren’t.

Will the government replace homeowners windows with bulletproof glass? We deserve that much for our contributions.

September 17, 2005

Murder at Gale School

The people who were angry enough to maim Hudson in broad daylight
finally finished the job this morning in front of Gale School. According to a police officer, Hudson was shot in the early hours. No shooter(s) caught.

In spite of all warnings, Hudson, returned to the hood to meet his fate. As the officer said, ‘those who live by the sword, die by the sword’. We can assume there will be even more retaliation.

The candles and ‘shrine’ have already started. As you can see, the clean up of the murder had not yet dried.

100_0584

Someone was kind enough to leave trash, or perhaps the deceased favorite food wraps to take on the journey.
100_0583 100_0585

Three young men were standing in front of the area leaning on the fence. I asked if they knew the deceased. One nastily responded ‘get the f**k outta here’. Not taking that from anyone I told him the sidewalk belongs to the City and I had as much right to stand there as anyone. I politely asked him a question and he could ‘politely’ respond without the missing manners 101. Then he wanted to know if I was a cop. No, just a person who lives around here, was my response. He apologized. I accepted and told him that there isn’t always a reason to assume anything negative if a person politely asks a question. He apologized again.

But will he learn anything from the 3rd murder in the area?

Let’s hope there won’t be an outcry to keep the shrine where children go to school to learn civic duty and the Golden Rule.

Here's Craig's take on the event

49th Ward ReZoning - You Decide

Hugh's comment posts from yesterday merited an entry on howardwatchers. Please read and digest all the data Hugh provided. FYI-there is a new laundromat in progress (all summer) at the corner of Paulina/Jonquil. A petition was submitted to Moore's office on 8/31/05 and a receipt was signed for same. The petition requested cleaning up Howard Street's vacant stores and rejuvinating the commercial strip. There were 150 signatures on it, so taxpayers requests should be taken into consideration right?

**********************************************************************************

Posted by Hugh 9/16/05:

I would encourage all NOH residents to carefully study these maps before the meeting next week and come with questions:

49th Ward Zoning Remap

Print them off on a high-quality printer and get out your magnifying glass. Carefully compare the "Existing" with the "Proposed."

Also, it is important that we understand the zoning changes that will be presented to us next week in the context of the major revision of the zoning law approved by our Aldermen last fall.

The 7600-7650 block of N Paulina, both sides of the street, between Howard and Jonquil, is going from B1-3 to B2-3.

The most significant difference between B1-3 and B2-3 is the how the street level is treated. In a B2-3 district, a developer is permitted by rights to build residential units on the first floor. In this sense, B2-3 is much like R (residential zoning). In a B1-3 district, building condos on the street level is a special use. A special use requires notification of neighbors and a review by the Commissioner of the Department of Planning and Development. So the main impact of this change is to eliminate the meager opportunity for neighbors to have a say in pedestrian-friendly retail in our neighborhood.

The real damage here was done last fall. Moore's proposed rezoning here just puts a final nail in the coffin. Resident control of the development of their neighborhood, and in particular pedestrian-friendly retail districts, were big losers in the revision of the zoning law. Under the old zoning law, in a B district a developer was REQUIRED to build space at the street for store-front businesses, and residential units on the first floor were PROHIBITED. The whole point of B districts was to implement the keen desire of residents for pedestrian-friendly retail. Last fall, our esteemed aldermen, working closely with the real estate developers who fund their political campaigns, revised the zoning law and made the street-level retail space in B districts OPTIONAL, at the discretion of the developer. The new zoning law allows developers to sell residential condos on the first floor. The revised zoning law eliminated the one tool we residents had for encouraging pedestrian-friendly, small-business oriented retail districts.

Real estate developers want to get in and out of these projects as quickly as possible. The old requirement for street-level retail was a major hassle for them. Before they could tap out of a project, they had to try to sell commercial condos on the first floor, or else they had to hang on to partial ownership of the building and maintain an ongoing building management role. Given a choice, few if any developers will choose to build street-level retail. They much prefer to carve curb cuts through the sidewalks of our former business districts, and sell parking spaces on the first floor for tens of thousands of dollars each.

In a recent neighborhood meeting where Moore pal and real estate developer Robert Coe presented his project at Morse and Greenview, one block west of the Morse EL stop, a project in a B district with no retail on the first floor, Coe told us, "People don't shop anymore. They shop on the internet. Don't ask me to revitalize retail in your neighborhood with my one project."

As another example of this trend away from pedestrian-friendly retail, take Coe's project on Howard Street just south of Bosworth, where he is knocking down the dry cleaners and building an all-condo, no retail building.

We are moving toward an urban landscape where we HAVE to use cars to shop, and we have codified this policy in our zoning law. That's how the big box retailers and mega grocers would prefer we shop.

Moore's proposed zoning change is a prelude to development, and the liberalization of the requirements on the property is a boon to the current owners. Even if the properties on N Paulina are never developed, the zoning change increases the value of the properties and the ability to borrow against them. Beneficiaries of Moore's proposed zoning change include:

1. Howard Area Community Center

2. Good News, a quasi-religious real estate developer

3. Slum-lord, convicted arsonist and Moore contributor, Ivan Buljubasic, owner of 7650-7658 N Paulina on the southwest corner of Paulina and Jonquil.

September 16, 2005

Proposed Re-Zoning 49

Where are the Flyers?

Please copy and forward to your friends and neighbors, make a few calls. Save a few trees, save your tax dollars for 'save the ducks not the taxpayers'. Save yourself the task of being an unpaid trash collecter in your own yard.



"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results"...

September 14, 2005

Elzie's Flood

The Broadmoor was in court again this week - they have another date for final compliance October 24th - at that time, if they sign another agreed order, the city will settle for $5000 in fines. So that's it? The inspectors aren't allowed in certain areas of the building, code violations run rampant but the city will settle for a slap on the hand! Just throw their legal hands in the air and say 'we did our best'.

Yep, a recent commenter said Elzie was ‘insanely connected’. How do taxpayers cut the ties?

It was pathetic enough that William Higginson’s clout and crew always managed to slither around the law at the Broadmoor, but now this? Elzie Higgenbottom/East Lake Management has had enough time to get his ‘new’ crew to consult with the building department and rectify this buildings woes, starting with the basement and working up. With every power surge in the Broadmoor, the basement floods. Who cares if the tenants don't have hot water?

As it is, the pumps were going full blast all weekend behind the Broadmoor. Allegedly, the inspectors could not gain access to the basement to discover the source of the flood. That’s a lot of water down the drain, taxpayers money down the drain.
100_0573 100_0575

One would think Elzie would need this ‘cash cow’ money to furnish a mansion like this.

100_0564

Perhaps if he indulges in Foie Gras we can get some real legal action?

September 13, 2005

Da Rules

C-Man had a busy summer splicing into his Northpoint neighbors cable. He was even handing out his phone number to people. For just $10 bucks, he’d splice you up real nice. Up to 18 of the 4-way splitters were found in one building alone by Comcast. There are still wires visible outside, so I’m skeptical about the interior wiring mentioned in the memo. I wonder if C-Man was evicted?

4-way splitter
August 23 2005 008

tangled mess
August 23 2005 004

It was amusing to read the 'clean hallway' sign and how well it was not enforced.

clean hallways
August 23 2005 007

When I saw the memo below, I called the management office to inquire about the contents. At least management spoke to me and reiterated that ‘the tenants can call if they have questions’. I agreed and told her I was working with Metropolitan Tenants Organization and tenants to form a tenant association and would appreciate an answer to my questions too. I inquired about the ‘Management Policies’ and how to obtain them and ‘what if tenants have already decorated with faux wood blinds or color pull shades, were low income residents expected to run out and spend money they don’t have'? The answers were that the policies are in the ‘Resident Handbook’. They were more concerned about having newspapers, bags or sheets hanging in windows. That I could agree with. But again, another question came out. Well, if you wanted the exterior window views to resemble the white interior then why weren’t shades or blinds installed with the rehab to be uniform? I didn’t get an answer. But I was told several times that tenants could call if they had questions. It would have been helpful to have told people upfront NOT to hang anything but WHITE in the windows. It would have been more sensible in the long run to have included it in the rehab. Vagueness leaves it wide open for inspections and write ups and the inevitable collection of fees.

What if they don’t have the funds?

Shortly after I snapped the pix of the toilet paper jamming the interior and exterior doors for keyless people, a friendly janitor walked up. He's aware of the jamming, keeps removing the jams and claims management is aware of the security problem.

jamming locks open
August 23 2005 002
exterior jams
August 23 2005 003

Why isn't management more concerned about the safety of the good tenants? Are we back to appearances being a priority over security? Why is this ignored, and why aren't the culprits caught and dealt with? Note: Rent is due on the 5th and the office was closed Saturday 9/3, Sunday, 9/4 and Monday 9/5. Sure there's a slot in the door but it flooded this summer and by all rights, tenants have 5 full 'working days' to pay, and get a receipt without threats of a late notice don't they?

hallway rules
9.3.05 004

*************************************************************************************

Northpoint Apartments

MEMORANDUM
Date: August 25, 2005

To: All Residents

From: Northpoint Management

Re: RESIDENT SURVEYS, WINDOWCOVERINGS AND CABLE

We would like to thank those who responded to the Resident Surveys. We have addressed most of the work orders generated from your responses.
While some were relating to rehab, most were items that were not part of the rehab, therefore, we will be promptly completing the necessary repairs.

Now that you have hopefully settled into your newly renovated units, we hope to see window coverings being installed in your windows. Please be advised that newspapers, sheets nor bags are items that are allowed. We would like the exterior of your units to resemble the interior or your new unit. Items such as curtains, blinds or shades would be more appropriate. Please adhere to Management Policies that all window coverings must appear white to the outside of the buildings. We would like to see these items up on all windows within the next 60 days.

Lastly, connections to cable have been installed within walls of the units
eliminating the need of exterior wiring. Recently, cable is being reported as being cut and taken by unauthorized users. Please be mindful of any person looking suspicious and report any and all incidents to the cable companies.

We are very pleased that you have chosen to live in our community. We want to do everything that we can to make your residence here both pleasant and comfortable.

7717 N. Paulina Chicago, Illinois 60626 • Tel: (773) 764-6707 Fax: (773) 764-3107 • TDD: (800) 545-1833 X361
*************************************************************************************
Do you see the word SECURITY or SAFETY anywhere?

September 12, 2005

Sound Familiar?

Sound Familiar?

By Hal Dardick
Tribune staff reporter
Published September 12, 2005
About 18 months ago, Latoya Barnes was forced out of Altgeld Gardens on Chicago's Southeast Side, where her mid-rise apartment building was slated for rehabilitation.

The 20-year-old woman and her two children moved to Evergreen Terrace, a federally subsidized 356-unit apartment complex on Joliet's near west side where she is now raising three children and working nearby in retail sales.

"From the moment I moved in, I wanted to move right out," Barnes said one recent afternoon. "There's drugs. There's nastiness. My kids can't come outside because of the nastiness. They're [urinating] in the hallways. ... There's kids out here who want to sell weed--little kids."

Those woes, say politicians from the City Council to the U.S. Senate, are the reason Joliet should be given a chance to buy Evergreen Terrace--through a judicially forced sale, if necessary--to remake the complex.

But Evergreen Terrace owners and operators and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development officials are offering a different solution: refinance the complex to pay for improvements that would cut crime and upgrade living conditions.

Which proposal will win remains to be seen. Both advanced in recent weeks, as two lawsuits involving the complex wended their way through state and federal courts.

What is clear is that residents, politicians, bureaucrats, owners and managers all agree that something must be done, that the 36-year-old complex doesn't live up to HUD's responsibility to provide "decent, safe, sanitary and affordable housing."

Police average five trips per day to the complex, on occasion for major violent crimes, including a 2003 killing possibly linked to drugs, and frequently for drug dealing, including the arrest of a complex manager this year.

None of the elevators work. The one remaining playground, everyone agrees, is inadequate. The parking lot is full of holes. The stairways have a foul odor. Residents complain of bug infestations. Appliances are aging.

Barnes blames fellow tenants, visitors and Burnham Management Co., which runs the complex.

"The best idea is to give everyone a Section 8 and give them a time limit to get out of here," she said, contending the complex is beyond redemption.

That view is shared by local politicians, who have called Evergreen "a blight on the community" and "a hellhole."

They tried to stop HUD from authorizing the plan to refinance the complex, which has been owned by New West for 24 years. HUD approved the deal Tuesday, however, and now has 60 days to close on it.

Officials from New West, which along with Burnham Management is controlled by the family of Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron Gidwitz, argue that refinancing would allow them to fix up the complex and preserve affordable housing for tenants.

A majority of the tenants are poor, African-American single mothers and their children.

"We believe that the housing is sorely needed in the neighborhood, and we are going to make it better," Burnham Management President Herb Halperin said.

"The solution that we are offering is one that does not abandon the interests of the residents who live there," he said.

Burnham's view is shared by high-level HUD bureaucrats. They say a city purchase of the property, most likely to raze its seven buildings to make way for a mixed-use development with fewer subsidized units, could leave a significant number of residents without a home.

Also backing the refinancing effort is the Chicago Rehab Network. Director of operations Rachel Johnston noted that the complex, on 7 1/2 acres along the Des Plaines River, is near downtown jobs and trains.

Joliet politicians say that affordable homes are available and that refinancing is not the answer.
They argue that a decade of prodding New West and Burnham Management has failed to improve conditions.

"Clearly, the management team has failed on its part and does not deserve another opportunity," said U.S. Rep. Jerry Weller (R-Ill.). "Time and time again, the management team has promised to make changes and has failed to follow through."

Backed by Weller, the City Council last month took the unusual step of launching condemnation proceedings, a lengthy and potentially expensive process that could end with a judicially forced sale of the complex to Joliet.

"It's filthy and unsafe, and people shouldn't have to live in those conditions," Deputy City Manager Jim Shapard said. "If they wanted to fix that up, they could do it. ... They don't want to spend their money. They want to spend yours and mine."

Three years ago, New West sought refinancing through HUD's Mark-to-Market program, said Charles Williams, who oversees the initiative as deputy assistant secretary of HUD's Office of Affordable Housing Preservation.

Under that program, HUD could approve higher rents for the complex, where rents are subsidized under the Section 8 program. The approval of higher rents and mortgage insurance provided by HUD would allow New West to borrow funds to improve the complex.

If the deal is closed, New West would spend $3.5 million on upgrades in the first year and $1.83 million in the next four years. After that, about $2 million would be spent over 15 years. That money would be spent on the 241-unit Phase I of the complex. A Phase II refinancing plan is in the works.

In the first year, Phase I work could include "a state-of-the-art security system" with fencing, a gatehouse manned around the clock, an extensive video-surveillance system and electronic key cards and visitor passes.

Other initial upgrades would include repairing elevators, rebuilding the parking lot, adding playgrounds, extensive landscaping and moving often-vandalized lobby mailboxes to the guardhouse. All new kitchens and bathrooms would come in the first five years.

After HUD approved a similar plan in 2003, Weller, then-U.S. Sen. Peter Fitzgerald, Councilman Tim Brophy and other Joliet officials flew to Washington, where they met with then-HUD Secretary Mel Martinez. As a result, that deal never closed.

If it had, residents already would have seen improvements, Halperin said. "The real victims here are the residents," he added.

Since then, the dispute has spilled into the courts. New West filed a federal suit against the city, accusing it of waging "a campaign of harassment, political influence and deception to force Evergreen Terrace and its low-income residents out of Joliet."

The city, in turn, filed suit in Will County Circuit Court seeking nearly $300,000 from New West for providing off-duty police to patrol the complex.

While the battle raged, HUD, now led by Secretary Alphonso Jackson, continued to evaluate the refinancing, signing off on it less than a week after Weller and U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin and Barack Obama asked him to hold off to give Joliet a chance to move on condemnation.

"Our major concern is that we improve the affordable housing, that we improve the conditions for the residents there," said HUD's Williams, who called the council's move to condemn the property "unfortunate."

Barnes and several other residents interviewed at the complex this summer said the refinancing plan would not help. But others interviewed last week said they were glad HUD approved the refinancing.

Debra Pickering, 47, who works in food service at a school, said she likes living at the complex, particularly because she doesn't have a car.

"Everything is in walking distance for me," she said.

More Links in the Chain of Command

This was a very interesting 'presentation' made by AIMCO to another 'group'. In light of the summer of 2005, there are drugs at Northpoint. What you didn't hear on the news or read in the paper was an alleged drug bust two weeks ago of a tenant living in the building that houses the 'management' office . One tenant and several friends were allegedly busted for crack. Last week, several people saw the corpse an unknown woman, allegedly an overdose victim being removed from the same building. It's not known if the deceased was a tenant or guest.

The background checks remain somewhat dubious to longtime tenants and long time residents NOH. I wonder if Lisa Madigan knows of these people - yet? There is a grain of truth in the inspections, especially if a tenant knows his/her rights! If a tenant dares to challenge his/her tenant rights, then they are inspected several times a year. Some would consider it harassment. I've been in several NP apartments over the summer and they do not appear to have been 'gutted', many did not get fitted with new appliances nor are there any cameras. One AIMCO VP asked me this summer if the rest of the neighborhood would be interested in pitching in financially for more security.

So, I'll ask the NOH readers, 'Do You Want to Pitch in for NP security which would hopefully include your home'?

Again, the rest of us were excluded in this process. So it's federal dollars huh? Well, last time I paid attention, I'm paying federal taxes too.
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ROGERS PARK BUILDERS GROUP


Minutes of the Board Meeting of March 25, 2003


ATTENDEES

DIRECTORS: Michael Glasser, President; Marty Max, Vice President; Tom Heineman, Treasurer; Rich Aronson, Secretary; Paul Abraham, Jim Corirossi, Dan Dooley, Tim Flentye, Al Goldberg, Andy Goodman, Nick Kopley, Mark Kruse, Mike Patton, Carla Price, Kevin Richards, Peter Venetos, Michael Wallk.

ASSOCIATES: Matthew Bowker, Judith Gramer, Cecil Lawrence, Judy Lewis, Karen Perl, Carl Steward, Phillip Williams, Thomas Westgard.

SPONSORS: Dorian Bezanis, Christina Isaza.

ADVISORS: Mary Jo Doyle, Michael McShane, Sidney Rockin, Mary Jane Sacks, Terry Sacks

GUESTS: Jack Bernhard, Bank One; Ron Bronstein, Keynote Consulting Collection Agency; Emily Carlson, Solstice Art Service, Inc.; Chris Feurer, Builders’ Design Group; Tim Gaffigan, AIMCO; Andrea Graham; David Greenfield, Matrix Financial Resources; Rev. John Heschle, St. Paul by the Lake Episcopal Church; Lorene Hopkins; Peter Horbenko, Magellan; Rachel Horbenko, Magellan; Nick Peterson, Builders’ Design Group; David Roeder, St. Paul by-the-Lake Episcopal Church; Al Spenadl, Matrix Financial Resources; Ira Ury, Hotel Source, Inc.; Paul Vlamis, Bank One; Artis Wright, Rogers Park CDC.

The meeting was called to order promptly at 7 p.m by President Mike Glasser. The first order of business was the minutes of the Board Meeting of February 25, which were approved unanimously.

Next, the host of the meeting. Al Goldberg, was introduced who in turn complimented Sweet Pea Catering Co., tenants of his building at Glenwood & Morse, who provided the dinner. Al noted that he had won the award for top commercial broker in Rogers Park by the Chicago Association of Realtors. He further remarked that he has 21,000 square feet of loft space available for rental at Howard & Ashland.

Carla Price then announced that she is working on a plan for the distribution of copies of the new Rogers Park brochure to all sponsors and directors.

Mike Glasser then introduced Tim Gaffigan, Vice President of Finance of AIMCO (Apartment Investment Management Co.). one of the largest syndicators of tax credits in the country, which owns many thousands of units in the nation, including the 12 buildings and 304 apartment units comprising the Northpoint development, north of Howard Street. The entire unit was rehabilitated when acquired by the previous owner, Rescorp, twenty years ago. Mr. Gaffigan revealed that AIMCO is seeking a $10 million refinancing package under the bonding authority of HUD to be used for additional rehabilitation. They plan to start with a 35 unit building, at an estimated rehab cost of approximately $30,000 per unit and will then proceed one or two buildings at a time until the entire rehab project is completed. They plan to introduce a resolution in the City Council in June or July to obtain the loan under the city’s bonding authority and to start work on the project in August of 2003. They seek housing for 54 tenants who will be displaced when the project begins, including 12 one bedrooms, 17 two bedrooms, 22 three bedrooms, and 3 four-bedrooms.

Mr. Gaffigan then introduced Claudia Vita, one of several AIMCO supervisors, who has been connected with Northpoint on and off in various capacities since 1981. One of several supervisors, she manages 8.000 rental units in 50 properties throughout the Midwest. She further observed that AIMCO manages

Rogers Park Builders Group Directors Group—page 1

237.000 rental units in 1,200 properties throughout the United States. She works with several other supervisors in managing properties in Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. She works with the alderman, the police and the states attorney in screening out undesirable tenants. She in turn introduced her associate, Aida Garcia-Alcantara, who works specifically in managing Northpoint, a project based section 8 property. She noted that the funds that Northpoint expects to obtain for rehabbing will enable Northpoint to maintain affordable units for another twelve years beyond the 18 years since it was originally set up. Gaffigan indicated that the rehab project will be a gut rehab involving replacement of plumbing, electric appliances, windows, carpeting, painting, wooden stairs, and doors.

Under current regulations, tenants are restricted to 50 percent of median income which amounts to $30,000 for a 1-bedroom apartment for a single person; $40,000 for a two-bedroom, two person unit; $45.000 for 3 bedroom, three person unit and $48,000 for a four-bedroom ,four person unit.

Rentals in Northpoint average $880 per month and range from a low of $838 per month for a one-bedroom to $970 per month for a two-bedroom, to $1,154 per month for a three-bedroom. The difference between what the tenant pays and the actual rental is paid for by the federal government.

In the question and answer period that followed Al Goldberg stated that it is more beneficial for both the community and the tenants to have a mixed income rentals. Tim Gaffigan replied that the units go to the poorest of the poor. Claudia added that AIMCO aims at comprehensive screening in renting apartments and investigates both the credit and criminal records, and even visit the homes of prospective tenants, and continues to visit their tenants after they move in. Gaffigan noted that they are looking into camera and exterior lighting as a deterrent to crime in their Northpoint properties.

(skip rest of page 2)

The meeting was then adjourned at 8:50 p.m. In the meeting for directors only which followed, Tim Flentye, chairman of the Housing Subcommittee of the Committee on Planning & Development, Distributed copies of the report to the group. Tim stressed that the purpose of the committee was to research and educate the group on subsidized housing options, issues and trends and to publish such information as an aid in policy decisions and ultimately in developing a housing policy for the RPBG.. The committee will also evaluate housing proposals and recommend that the RPBG support or oppose such policies.

The meeting was adjourned at 9:30 p.m.

Rogers Park Builders Group Directors Meeting—page 3

September 10, 2005

Chain of Command - Part II

It wasn’t indicated or noted if this was the ‘attachment’ referred to in the previous post but partner agencies were mentioned. It isn’t dated other than the reference to Peoples Housing which went belly-up and certain groups highly promoted and rah rah’d for Jay Johnson and here’s the result of their cheerleading this,
and this,resulting in the ultimate slum.

And the guy is now advertising for more people with their ‘silent blessing’ because they’re too damned embarrassed to admit they made a huge mistake. They’re hoping no one will ever connect the dots. This ad is in Johnson's Howard Theater building window that housed Pyramid Fashions for about two months until an armed robber created one more empty storefront on Howard Street.
100_0571

An apology to our community is in order. And there should be a power person who would put a stop to the degradation of this neighborhood.

They begged and pleaded for the subsidized mess but leave the clean up to us. They listen to our complaints and those of tenants in these bad buildings,then ‘we’ go through the time-consuming red tape of getting slumlords in building court. But the agencies are doing the job that they’ve maneuvered for themselves. Were they even aware of the monster they were creating for the rest of us to endure? After years and years of going to court, these slumlords get a handslap and continue. We go to CAPS and hear the same old same old, we call 911 and life continues NOH. Just don’t rock their boat, they get very upset and get very vindictive.

Below is the draft letter from the mystery folder. Do the numbers seem a tad on the short side on low income apartments in ratio to market rate and/or privately owned properties? Remember we're talking about a 2x6 block strip=12 Northpoint, 7 IMC/Elzie Higgenbottom,(correction there are 7 rather than 3) X Jay Johnson, and others unknown that provide Section 8. Why isn't there a Power Person wheeling and dealing with banks to provide mortgages for low income buyers? Many of their points are valid, but were the rest of us included in the planning process? People tend to take pride in their neighborhood when faced with the responsibility of ownership.
******************************************************************************
Dear Joe;

The North of Howard Leadership Forum is a group of agencies working in the north of Howard community that has been meeting since January 2000 to identify common concerns about this neighborhood and to plan for joint actions to address these issues. Through the support of the Seabury Foundation, a consultant was hired to lead the group through an assessment process that has resulted in the identification of affordable housing as a critical area of concern for all of us. We have also all agreed to suppot the broad goals outlined below.

We are writing to ask your support of our goals. We would like to meet with you so that we can more fully discuss these goals and so that we can enlist your help in planning strategy for making these goals a reality.

As you know, the north of Howard community has lost over -------units of housing that had been affordable for low-income families. This area now has become a mixed income neighborhood. Because of this, the North of Howard Leadership Forum has the goal of keeping all currently existing units of low-cost housing north of Howard. The North Point, People’s Housing, Urban Investment, Broadmore, Good News Partners and Housing Options for Women buildings contain a total of 760 units of affordable housing. We want to put in place policies that would safeguard all of these units. In addition, we would like to facilitate the development of an additional 240 units that would be affordable for low-income people.

To accomplish this goal, our Forum seeks your support for the following stragegies:

1. Aldermanic intervention with the developers of Birchwood and Hispanic Housing to make sure that people who can get financing and believe they can carry a loan will be considered. Currently people who would have to pay more that 33% of their income to meet the mortgage payments are rejected. We believe some of these people would be good risks.

2 Aldermanic support for designating 20% of all new developments as affordable housing units. This would be a requirement for allowing future development in the north of Howard area.

3. The Point Project will displace —(12 to 15?) families from lower-cost housing. We would like to see a comparable number of units in the proposed development be designated for affordable housing units.

4. The Kakvan Building at the 7600 block of Greenview is currently abandoned. As this building formerly housed families with a mix of income levels, we would like to see that at least 30% of any future development will include units affordable of low-income families.

5. We would also like to explore with you ways that we can expedite the acceptance of Section 8 certificates in this community

We are proposing an ongoing relationship with your office to work toward the accomplishment of for the meeting.

September 8, 2005

Chain of Command - Part I

I received an anonymous folder bursting at the seams with documents someone thought NOH property owners, renters, taxpayers, and voters might find intriguing, enlightening, and maddening. Posted below is a scan of an email chain from those who chose how Northpoint, North of Howard, and our lives, should continue. I've deleted all the email names in cc: sections to be as dignified as such a document will allow.

In sharp contrast to what we know, see, and hear is the blatant mockery and denial of 'rampant drug dealing in the buildings' i.e. Northpoint. Also absurd is the thought of management providing a tour by cleaning house and putting their best foot forward to get the rehab contract. Here's the introduction of some of the players who put Northpoint, (and subsequently our quality of life) as we know it today on the map until 2014. I did not receive any documentation of a public community meeting being held such as we've been invited to in the past. If one exists, I will post it to show all sides of the subject.

************************************************************************************

Greetings Board and Cary

I suppose I am reluctantly agreeable to supporting use of the City’s bond
authority to access funding to rehab Northpoint to maintain affordable rental housing in the area north of Howard. Reluctantly.

This does not add to the number of affordable/low income units so that is
good. It will enable the management to upgrade or maintain the physical condition of the property so that is good.

Yes, management works closely with CAPS and the community to correct problems as they arise. However, it might be a good thing if management could be more proactive to prevent problems.

Tenant screening has always been an issue with this sort of housing. “Unauthorized occupants” or visitors who engage in criminal activity in the neighborhood have been an issue. These are the major sources of problems in the area and they are difficult to prevent. Good tenants can
have bad children or bad friends and relations.

I have heard suggestions that in connection with community support for this financing option at this time, Northpoint’s management could/should promise and commit to re—screening all tenants to verify lack of criminal
records and continued eligibility for this sort of housing. Northpoint should verify the occupants of each unit and eject unauthorized tenants. Perhaps this would address community concern about the quality of management issue.

I support Rogers Park as a “mixed income” community and this includes housing for the poor. But I have always added the words “safe, well—maintained, crime—and—drug—free” to the words “affordable housing”.

I think the language of the proposed letter to Ald Moore is “too supportive” and support should be expressed in a more neutral fashion.
I
will forward an amended letter.

ld

At 05:08 PM 12/20/2002 —0600, Cary Steinbuck wrote:
Dear RPCC board and RPCDC board:

There is a group of 300 units in the north of Howard community that provide affordable rental housing called Northpoint. The buildings are “Section 8 — Project Based” —— meaning that the units hold the section 8 certificate —— not the individual families.

Northpoint has traditionally been well run. Because of their financing structure of Section 8, the units secure enough income to cover expenses.
(Unlike many other ‘affordable housing buildings” with financial arrangements that rely on caps on rental income)

Project Based section 8 is expiring —— the Federal government is going to
individual section 8 certificates. Alderman Moore is in the process of
working with the City of Chicago to secure a loan that would provide funding for necessary repairs in the buildings and would also extend the affordability on the properties for the next 30 years. HUD has assured that the Project=based Section 8 will be continued at the building through
2014. From Alderman Moore’s email: “As you know, I’ve been working with the
City and the owners of the North Point property to guarantee the affordability of the North Point buildings. The North Point owners would
like to rehabilitate their buildings. The City has a new program that allows affordable housing developers to access the City’s bonding authority. No expenditure of public dollars is involved, but the City’s bonding authority allows developers to obtain better financing terms. By
accessing the City’s bonding authority, essentially the owners have to agree to keep the buildings affordable for the next 30 years.”

There are some individuals in the community who are not happy about idea of keeping these properties affordable. Some recommend that they become affordable ownership. Our partner organizations have asked us to sign onto a letter to support the maintenance of these buildings as affordable
rental.

I have asked our housing staff for documentation of the status of complaints on these properties. There have been some calls —— mostly from
tenants who have not been happy with the receptionist. There have been on—going complaints (by tenants) about security and gates. I read only one complaint of drug dealing. Cathy Gerlach completed a walk-through of
the properties with the management in regards to their rehab plans and mostly the needs were cosmetic and security —— gates, lighting, etc.

I am attaching a letter that our partner organizations have written. I am
recommending that we send a letter to the Alderman and City of Chicago supporting Northpoint’s loan application, as this Is not additional low—income housing in the North—of—Howard community, rather stabilization
of existing housing.

Please let me know your ideas and thoughts.



AldMoore@aol .com 12/21/2002 09:53 AM


.~a To
cc:
Subject: Re: NorthPoint

Cary, et al.,

Your records correspond with our records. Some complaints about cosmetic
issues, such as gates open and doors not locked (complaints that would be
addressed, by the way, with a rehab) and a several—months—old complaint about about alleged drug dealing. I’m glad Kathy did a walkthrough to confirm all this.
Your point that this is not additional low—income housing, just a stabilization of existing housing, is well—taken. And it is particularly
revealing that those expressing outrage over this plan can’t or won’t provide any specific facts to back up their claim of mismanagement and rampant drug dealing in the buildings.

One thing I left out of my previous e—mail. Northpoint is asking for tax
credit assistance as well.

Any questions? Please call me.

Joe Moore

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Content—Type: text/html; charset=”us—ascii”

Then what’s this just coincidence? And isn't 'affordable homeownership' on HUD's mission statement? So where was the referendum on the ballot?

September 7, 2005

Northpoint Tunnel

Mr. Jones resided in an apartment on Bosworth until the ‘rehab’. He was shipped off to a dive on Greenview and Morse called an ‘offsite’. Jones said the front doorknob came off in his hand at the temporary residence. He complained to Northpoint management to no avail.

His apartment on Bosworth was a one bedroom with two closets and enough space for his furniture. His rent was about $90/month, (for a total of $825 with subsidy) and he spoke of cleaning the walls on a regular basis because they collect dust too! Now how many men think like that?

When his tenure at offsite purgatory on Greenview ended, he was moved to his new apartment in a different Northpoint building. At the time, he told the ‘moving specialist’ at Northpoint that the new place looked awfully small. Given the short notice, he was scheduled to move and went through with it just to escape purgatory. By the time the movers got the boxes stuffed into the tunnel called a living room/dining room, they were almost to the ceiling. There was no room for his sofa, loveseat and recliner. Without ample time to advertise and sell them, Mr. Jones, on a fixed income, just gave them away. How many of us can afford to just give away furniture?

This is the combo dining/living room.
9.3.05 001

Mr. Jones is a little cramped in this approximate 19x9 foot tunnel don’t you think? I was standing in the doorway between the tunnel and the kitchen, so this is it. There’s one closet in the entryway and as he said ‘there’s no place to store a mop and broom’ in the kitchen. The tall cabinets have shelves in them so he’s not exaggerating on this. A ten year old could have done a better paint job on the back wall with the window. What was a dark brown/black window frame was smeared with white paint.

9.3.05 003

The hardly functioning air conditioner is in the west window, so he couldn’t place furniture there. We all know how hot a western exposure can be when the AC doesn't work. Will his complaints be heard? It’s unfortunate that Jones had to do a Sophie’s Choice with his furniture. Sadly, I’ve heard this from more tenants than just Jones. Northpoint would show tenants their new apartment and if their furniture didn’t fit…too bad. Jones has health conditions and is downright depressed having to move around furniture as though he’s in a storage unit.

And the real kicker is, in spite of Jones’ fixed income, his rent for this tunnel has jumped to $123/month.

Just thought you’d like to know what the good tenants at Northpoint are getting for our tax contribution.

Meanwhile, there are some tenants who pay $0, have ‘roommates’ working at decent paying jobs, and guess what, we’re paying the full nut.

Just thought someone would like to know. Wonder if the folks in the Denver office know about this Mickey Mouse rehab? Sure hope the NOH groups who reluctantly persuaded the alderman to sign that rehab contract never lose their incomes. They may be forced to throw away their favorite chair and live like Mr. Jones...under the apathetic management of Northpoint. It could happen to anyone.