‘It’s a dark day’: Public housing advocates criticize city’s deal with Chicago Fire


CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) — Public housing residents and advocates have called for a deal, which provides 23 acres to the Chicago Fire soccer team for a practice facility on the Near West Side, to be put on hold.

Critics of the deal said the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) has broken decades of promises to replace torn down apartment units. The deal with the Fire should never have happened, they added.

Organizer Don Washington said the deal, which has been approved by the city, CHA and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, should have gone in front of the city’s next mayor.

“It’s a dark day today,” Washington said. “It’s a dark day when the federal and local government will collude to abandon the very people they were created to serve.”

Loomis Courts resident Mary Williams said she wants the deal canceled.

“How can you sell the land that was promised to the people?” Williams said. “How can you do that? As far as we’re concerned, we don’t matter because it’s all about the dollar with you guys. It’s not right.”

Ickes Homes resident Etta Davis also weighed in during the news conference via Zoom.

“The land leasing, selling, swapping is not only happening at ABLA, but all over the city, and when they rebuild the mixed-income communities, you can bet there won’t be many CHA public housing units in them,” Davis said.

In a statement to WBBM, officials said the CHA’s “investments in communities go beyond replacing the failed public housing model of the past.”

“[The CHA] works with partners, including the City of Chicago, nonprofit agencies and for-profit developers to create mixed-use, mixed-income environments that catalyze families’ growth, health and economic independence,” officials said.

The deal with the Chicago Fire, officials said, “will allow us to secure substantial funds to rehabilitate aging public housing at ABLA, Brooks and Loomis Courts, while also creating employment opportunities for our residents and community members.”

Replacement housing at Roosevelt Square is underway, CHA officials added. They said the CHA is committed to bringing the same number of previously planned new public and affordable housing units to the area in a mixed-income setting.

Under the deal, the CHA will receive $40 million over 40 years from the Chicago Fire for use of the 23.3 acres on the Near West Side.

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March 14, 2023 at 06:59PM

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