Happy April Fools’ Day!
Sometimes the world’s axis seems to tilt just a bit more, and there’s a crazy confluence of events. When that happens, the steady beat of the news drums turns into a pair of rampaging kettle drums. This week, the kettle drums got walloped twice.
1. Affordable Housing, CHA’s Plan for Transformation and The Cost of Segregation
This week, a pair of reports, one that quantifies in dollars the cost of Chicago’s segregation, and a second from the Chicago Inspector General on the fiscal management of the city’s affordable housing program, piled onto another monster report last week on the poor state of the Chicago Housing Authority’s mixed-use, affordable housing program, The Plan For Transformation. Threading through all three reports and issues are the value of real estate, and how in Chicago, “the wrong side of the tracks” really means something.
The Metropolitan Planning Council and Urban Institute’s report on segregation charges that, “If the economic and the black-white segregation measures were the median amount, the associated increase in black per capita income would be 15.1 percent, or $2,982, making for an aggregate increase of $4.4 billion in black per capita income.” The report is chock-full of findings, like that the Chicago-area is the 5th most segregated region in the country.
Meanwhile, two of the vehicles meant to help unwind Chicago’s segregation, mixed-income and affordable housing, continue to have problems, according to recent reports. Last week WBEZ published the results of a study conducted with Northwestern University, finding that less than 8% of former CHA public housing residents, uprooted in the 1990’s from demolished public housing projects like Stateway Gardens and Cabrini Green, were resettled in promised mixed-income developments as part of the Plan For Transformation. CHA says it is rebooting its efforts, but for twenty years, CHA hasn’t had shown much results.
The other housing prong, affordable housing, is managed by the Chicago Department of Planning. To its credit, since 2015 DPD has created “north of 20,000” of a 41,000 unit goal of affordable housing units, however, a recent Chicago Inspector General report found $4.5 million of affordable housing funds from 2013 to 2015 was inappropriately accounted for.
2. Sanctuary Status & ICE at Odds
Incredibly, just as U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions was threatening in a press conference Monday to ‘claw back’ federal funds to Chicago law enforcement because it insisted on not assisting federal immigration officials, Chicago’s immigrant community was reeling from a dawn raid that same day by said immigration officials who shot a 53-year old man, Felix Torres Sr., in his Belmont-Cragin house.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials were pursuing Torres’s son, Felix Torres, Jr, who was wanted on felony weapons charges. Part of ICE’s purview, includes investigating drugs and weapons smuggling. ICE has not answered questions about whether or not immigration status was part of Torres Jr’s arrest, but they did announce later this week that they found two weapons in a search of the Torres’ home.
While it seems that ICE’s morning raid was not attempting to apprehend an undocumented immigrant, Monday’s convergence of events managed to highlight the fears of immigrant advocates, that Chicago’s sanctuary status will only make ordinary law enforcement more difficult, as immigrants of all statuses, legal and otherwise, will fear interactions with police.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel responded to Session’s threats, calling them “a bit of a joke” since Department of Justice funding is already scheduled to be cut in President Donald Trump’s proposed 2018 budget.