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UPTOWN CHICAGO COMMISSION

Uptown in the News  

August 23, 2004
Chicago Tribune
Uptown factions at odds
As neighborhood changes, housing for poor debated
By H. Gregory Meyer Tribune staff reporter

After six years of public meetings, community surveys in four languages and design workshops, the plan for the 5-acre Wilson Yard property generated something for everyone: a multiplex theater atop a new big-box store, a supermarket and affordable housing.

However the affordable housing element has created conflict in this diverse neighborhood. The prospect of concentrating new housing for low-income residents in a place already synonymous with transient hotels, homeless shelters and subsidized housing bothers some.

The Wilson Yard project's low-income housing (90 units for families and 90 units for seniors) is meant to address the recent rise in housing costs in Uptown.

Members of the upstart Uptown Neighborhood Council don't want it at all: They oppose the family housing, arguing that like many Chicago Housing Authority developments, it would become a looming tower of concentrated poverty.. The group has come up with its own affordable-housing vision, one that would put a roof over the heads of a more rarefied clientele: artists.

Alderman Helen Shiller , a booster for the project, is standing her ground, bolstered by support from such established community groups as the Organization of the NorthEast. "It is not my view of this community that the only people who can live here are people who are either very rich or old."


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