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Uptown in the News  

July 18, 2007
Zoning Committee Approves Zoning for SRO facility
Facility to replace nursing home
By Lorraine Swanson

The Chicago City Council’s Committee on Zoning approved a zoning change for a Single-Room Occupancy, or SRO, facility at the former Carmen Manor Nursing Home that has divided residents along the Uptown/Andersonville border.
Members of the zoning committee voted unanimously on July 12 to recommend upzoning the property at 1470 W. Carmen Ave. that will allow for greater density. Two non-profit organizations, Heartland Housing, a division of Heartland Alliance, and International Consultants and Associates, plan to share the building’s living space. The zoning committee’s recommendation is expected to go before the City Council for a full vote later this month or next month.

Heartland to purchase nursing home
Heartland Housing is putting the financing together to purchase the nursing home, which has been vacant for several years. The property will be leased to International Consultants and Associates, which will manage the facility.
Residents who oppose the SRO took issue with Heartland’s plan to house persons living with HIV/AIDS who are clients of its Rafael House program. During a community meeting with Alderman Helen Shiller, 46th, last month, many residents cited past problems with Uptown SRO’s, saying tenants panhandled and caused other disturbances in the neighborhood.
“Many of the people who would have liked to have been here today are working like yourselves. An SRO does not fit in our community,” said Uptown resident Annie Claussen, who lives in the same block as the proposed SRO.
“We have many new restaurants, bars, a health club, and lots of new, small shops trying to develop business. They want to prosper. They need an environment that customers will feel safe visiting and patronizing” Claussen added.

Residents sign Petition
Claussen presented a petition signed by 67 residents, 85 percent of whom live within a few blocks of the proposed SRO. Claussen also questioned how many Single-Room Occupancies there are per capita in the 46th Ward. Residents have frequently remarked that the 46th Ward has a disproportionate number compared to other wards in the city.
Shiller could not specifically give the number of SROs in her testimony before the zoning committee.
“We have many SROs in our community, although I think there are a number of wards and communities, including Lincoln Park, that have comparable numbers,” Shiller said, stating that her office had received many calls and letters supporting the SRO.

Some Favor SRO
Uptown resident Heather Rakes spoke in favor of the SRO.
“I’m not afraid of this population living in this neighborhood,” Rakes said, referring to the Rafael House residents.,
Andrew Geer, executive director of Heartland Housing, said that he expected to close the sale of the property in September. The hard part now, Geer said, was winning the confidence of those residents who opposed the project.
“We are going to be a responsive owner and landlord. At the end of the day, we take that responsibility to the community very seriously. We don’t view today as, “we won,” This is our first step to building community trust,” Geer said.

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