11.30.2009 0

Valerie Jarretts Grove Parc Fiasco: The Rich Got Richer

  • On: 12/07/2009 09:29:41
  • In: Appointments
  • “In 1987, U.S. District Judge Marvin Aspen had appointed Habitat to oversee construction of all public housing in Chicago as part of the historic Gautreaux case, which found that the CHA had failed for decades to integrate housing. At first, Habitat’s job was to desegregate housing by building “scattered site” units in more affluent white neighborhoods across the city. But the effort had little impact. The company built about 1,800 units, mostly in lower-income Hispanic neighborhoods before the program ended.”

    They were eventually able to convince Judge Aspen to allow development where “CHA and Habitat could show that the neighborhood would become ‘revitalized’ through large public and private investments that would lead to racial integration.” This came as a result of CHA’s and Habitat’s desire to tear down the Henry Horner Homes, across the street from the United Center, where the 1996 Democratic Convention was to be held. It led to the implementation of the “Plan for Transformation” that would replace existing public housing with developments that included public housing, affordable housing and market housing. This began in 2000. As of July of last year “under the Plan for Transformation, the city ha[d] lost more than 13,000 housing units for the poor at a time when low-income families face one of the worse housing crises in recent history.

    After years of neglect and abandonment, many residents doubt that Jarrett and CHA officials have their interests at heart. ‘They was going to do what they was going to do,’ said Carmen Hart, who moved to Stateway Gardens [public housing] in 1960 and has been waiting three years to go back.” Only about one in three residents was able to return to redeveloped projects.
    Meanwhile, “Habitat has earned $6.8 million in fees and $10.8 million in administrative expenses since the plan started in 2000, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The company also earns millions as a property manager for the CHA,” while Jarrett has lived very comfortably at her lakefront apartment, while pulling in a six-figure base salary plus hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation for serving on boards.

    Jarrett Allowed Grove Parc to Become Uninhabitable

    One of the most glaring of the examples of neglect was Grove Parc Plaza. It was managed by the Habitat Company and is located in the district that Obama represented for 8 years in the Illinois legislature. “About 99 of the units are vacant, many rendered uninhabitable by unfixed problems, such as collapsed roofs and fire damage. Mice scamper through the halls. Battered mailboxes hang open. Sewage backs up into kitchen sinks.” Residents have been complaining for years to little avail. “As late as 2003, a routine federal inspection still gave conditions at Grove Parc a score of 82 on a 100-point scale.” By 2005 that had dropped to 56. Finally in 2006 Grove Parc received 11 out of 100. Jarrett’s only comment about this gross mismanagement under her leadership was about how hard it is to manage something you don’t own.

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