Return to CECD Home
Coalition for Equitable Community Development
Report on October 18, 2008 Forum
How will the 2016 Olympics Affect Affordable Housing in Hyde Park-Kenwood?
Prepared by Gary Ossewaarde
Convened by the Coalition for Equitable Community Development, cosponsored by several organizations including Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference, South Siders Organized for Unity and Liberation, and the other institutional-organizational members of CECD. Two background papers, not necessarily endorsed by CECD can be viewed in the HPKCC site, http://www.hydepark.org/affordablehousing/Oct182008OlympicsHsg.htm.
CECD's issue paper on Olympics and Housing
The October 18 2008 CECD forum, Olympic impacts on affordable housing in OUR Neighborhood
(1) Report by Pat Wilcoxen, President, as in letter to Hyde Park Herald, November 5, 2008
Olympics debated in Hyde Park forum
Nearly 100 community residents came out on a recent Saturday morning to hear experts and elected officials talk about the effects of he 2016 Olympics on the community if Chicago is awarded the games.
Two University of Chicago professors, John MacAloon and Allen Sanderson, talked about the impact on the cost of housing should Chicago host the 2016 Olympics. MacAloon serves as an advisor to the Chicago 2016 committee and favors the Chicago bid. Sanderson, an economist, is skeptical about any significant economic benefit to the city from hosting the Olympics. Gyata Kimmons of the Chicago 2916 committee, as well as Alds. Toni Preckwinkle (5th) also addressed the subject.
I am the president of the Coalition for Equitable Community Development and served as the panel moderator. I laid out the community's concerns about the impact of the Olympics on our housing. Other cities, such as Atlanta, saw whole neighborhoods displaced for the games. I told the panel that the Hyde Park and Kenwood communities want assurances that this will not happen here. I told them we need safeguards to protect our economic diversity -- and that starts with preserving affordable housing.
"No private property will be taken," was the assurance given by both MacAloon and Kimmons. All of the facilities (that is, stadiums and the Olympic Village) will be bu9lt on land that is already city-owned. It is possible that housing for the athletes will be built on the site of now-closed Michael Reese Hospital. Sanderson pointed out that the games wil only last two weeks and that most of the visitors will be staying at downtown hotels. "No one is going to get rich by leasing out their house for two weeks that summer," he said.
Both aldermen were critical of the planning process -- or rather lack of planning process -- provided by Chicago 12016. In particular, Preckwinkle noted the failure to hire liaison staff to work with the Mayor's Office and the City Council. A number of residents expressed concern about the impact on housing prices, transportation, parking and the potential of the city taking private property for the games.
(2) Report of the forum by Gary Ossewaarde
Pat Wilcoxen, president, convened the forum at 10 pm, thanking Augustana Church for its hospitality. She briefly described how the organization emerged from faith groups.
Affordable Housing Advocacy. Chair Linda Thisted recited and explained the Issue Paper on Impact of Olympics on Affordable Housing, which asks for specific set aside commitments in the Olympic Village and for all developments within a two-mile range of the Village and the Stadium should Chicago's bid succeed. Thisted also reviewed successes in gaining set asides from local developers and gave some of the challenges to affordability in coming years.
Research Committee. New chair Mark Granfors described means to understand and map the housing types, ownership, and costs in the neighborhood.
Membership and Fundraising. At the end of the meeting, Chair John Murphy explained that the organization is a membership-based (institution/organization and individual) 501c3 and that dues and gifts will definitely help.
Gyata Kimmons, community liaison for Chicago2016 outlined the next steps, including final bid book in February 2009 (600 pages), visit from International Olympics Committee teams in April 2009, and decision announcement October 2. Kimmons said their eyes are on making a better--and more sports and fitness oriented--Chicago, and what it will look like after the Olympics. He said the parks were chosen not just because free but would not involve displacement and had opportunities for useful legacies. Legacies, starting from now, will include education, sports, and fitness for youth; infrastructure, transportation, development, and housing (the latter mainly the Olympic Village). Location of the Olympic Village is unsettled due to ongoing negotiations with MedLife, the owner of the land of Michael Reese. Goal is mixed private-public-foundations development for mixed use housing and retail and will involve ongoing job training. Major planning partners are CMAP, CDOT, MacArthur Foundation, and Tribune-McCormick Foundation.
Allen Sanderson is senior lecturer in Economics at University of Chicago, concentrating on the economics of sports, and a Hyde Parker. Sanderson pointed out the rule of scarcity--people and cities have to chose where to invest resources, and that any change or happening is likely to bring at least some disruption. He thinks there will be winners and losers in neighborhoods, as there will be in any case. We should make sure improvements really are that and bring increased value to the locales and city. He expects there will be on average overall benefit, but we should pay attention how the inevitable balancing act between "efficiency" and "equity" plays out, for everyone. We have a responsibility to help those who could be made worse off by this or any change. He also reminded us that the job of Chicago2016 is first to sell the games. It's an interest group. It's everyone else's job to "kick the tires."
John MacAloon is an associate dean in the Social Sciences Division at U of C who has studied the impacts of 13 previous games and whose perspective is anthropological-- he prefers to look at effects and involvement of specific people and groups he has met rather than at aggregates. He said effects will be different within each distinct neighborhood. He advises the Olympics Committee.
Alderman Toni Preckwinkle (4th) said that first of all the Olympics is an opportunity to showcase the city, Midwest and communities. She praised the choice of a place where there are not preexisting people to displace, especially for the Village. She said providing affordable housing even in the Village, especially at the 1/3 level CECD is asking will be very difficult. Three recent projects in her ward did-- because they were Hope/CHA transformation programs that involved heavy federal infusion through layers of funding -- including $12 million in infrastructure upgrade before a shovel was turned for construction.
The Olympic Village (which she prefers to be on the Michael Reese site) will become a TIF district, so the 20% affordable commitment is in the document, along with strong Women and Minorities Business and job training/50% local hires provisions. But all had to be fought hard for. She is receptive to having an advisory council for the TIF, and noted there are working groups in the large rebuild areas mentioned previously.
She noted that the Olympic Committee is playing its cards very close to the vest, with confidentiality agreements, subcommittee she got people on but that don't meet, a "corporate" model but with weak interfacing with the city. Will this change after the bid?
Alderman Leslie Hairston (5th). Hairston said her ward has little open land except for parks, so she is putting emphasis on preserving the housing stock and its affordability, including creating a watch list and other means. She is particularly worried about aging buildings, especially higher ones where people bought their units long ago but taxes and assessments are rising--maybe above resale value, and the buildings are vulnerable to developers buying them up and displacing the occupants. She also notes that for quite a while realty values were held down by the struggling surrounding areas-- this ended in the 1990s. There are also many troubled buildings with a succession of owners. Creating and keeping affordable units is a great problem citywide, she said, which has been made worse by how the Plan of Transformation has been carried out.
She is very concerned about Olympic impact--adding to the existing pressures, and the looming possibility of great disruption with the Olympics themselves-- how are all these people to be gotten in and out? With or without them, people need access to transportation, jobs, and much else. Olympics could help spur local plan, for example along the Stony Island and Metra corridors. She also said it is very hard to find out what 2016 is planning on doing. As for housing, she said that there is a Florida Model of planning to help people 10 and older stay in their houses and communities and there are developers in the area aware of this need.
The floor was opened to questions.
SharonJoy Jackson addressed ongoing as well as Olympic needs re: parking and traffic, need to fix up lakefront and parks, the 'Iowa' building as an opportunity now an eyesore. Will you work with and help the Park District?
Kimmons said there will be no provision of parking (or by implication Olympics amelioration of existing parking problems), at least some areas will be permitted without allowing people to bring a flock of guests with cars, and there will be other restrictions on outside access.
Kimmons said the plan is to use the Olympics to ratchet up school fitness, sports-opportunity (and science-in-sports like is starting now), and after school academics and this involves much more use of the parks-- that has to be fixed up, as do the parks. (He did not say where the Olympics or long-range money is coming from.)
Another expressed skepticism there would be minimum impact for those who live close to venues. Kimmons seemed to think the limits on vehicular load will work. Hairston expressed skepticism, citing the mess with shuttling and street congestion at the DNC in Denver. Our streets cannot handle that kind of load and the buses are environmentally unfriendly-- and after Dan Ryan the state reneged on repairing damage.
MacAloon said Denver was unprepared and is a poor example. He said Chicago has to have a good plan or it won't even get the Olympics. His estimate is that we will not get hoards of traffic, car or foot, on the sides streets and will hardly know the Olympics are going on. Hairston reiterated lack of state support on traffic, transportation, public safety --unless the Feds will help we can expect neither a good experience or improvements left behind. He noted there has to be an integrated team working on this. It was noted that 2016 does not yet have a director for legacies and impacts
Someone who works with income and housing issues to the north (SOUL?) asked for more information on impact on moderate income people for housing and potential for pricing or pressure displacement, citing reported problems with this in other Olympic venues. Panelists said there was little displacement even in Atlanta except by Turner Stadium; much poor condition housing was replaced there with better, and the Chicago Olympics has no direct displacement or removals. Sanderson said displacement and development in Barcelona were not related to the Olympics.
Harold Lucas said Bronzeville residents and housing can't help but be affected; how can existing be better rather than be displaced. MacAloon talked about an ongoing multi-year Cultural Olympics now underway. There was general agreement that ways have to be found to break cycles of poverty.
Joe Harlan said Chicago is way behind needs and other cities on housing, transportation and more-- how is that pattern going to be broken, and, given how this city operates, what confidence can we have that things will be handled well? And if so, where is the money coming from without the taxpayers being stung. Kimmons responded that they will work with the city departments and agencies, and he has had issues also, and have to develop lots of partnerships. They are committed to outreach.
Another asked who is in charge of the legacy component. And how much aldermanic and community involvement has there really been. Kimmons said they are selecting a legacy leader (some dismay in the audience) and are "taking back" ideas from meetings such as this. Preckwinkle said there needs to be a city Olympics office to interface with 2016 on legacies, transportation, and living wage. She said there has be a legacies director before February.
Ellie Hall asked whether the kind of housing (i.e. unit size) needed for the Olympic Village will preclude or make expensive re conversion to kinds of housing needed in the community. MacAloon said that the IOC requires spacious suites and kitchens, and housing that is occupant-ready when the Olympics is over.
An East Hyde Park resident again stressed parking concerns and need to preserve our already existing legacy of open land and good parks-- she feared displacement of teams and recreational use in for example Washington Park for and after the Olympics, and that the residual stadium will be a displacement, and would its use be affordable. (Moderator Wilcoxen again asked that questions focus on the topic, housing).
MacAloon said all facilities will go back to the Park District and not to private use. He said there is a big worldwide drop in recreation adn fitness world wide. He hopes such initiatives as World Sports Chicago will help counteract this. Kimmons said there will be more recreation and fitness in Washington Park after the Olympics. The asker said that lots of facilities are being poured into Lincoln Park but nearby Lincoln High as an example.
Joan Staples said there needs to be more bottom-up planning and that this city wastes too much time "finding things out." She also asked a follow up community meeting on Olympics that would include the University and its plans and involvement including land purchases (some expression of conflict of interests in the University of Chicago.)
Sanderson was asked how can we make the Olympics a best. He noted Olympic and new stadium cities don't do well financially on these deals. Waste and demands from interest groups abound. He was encouraged that the city is committed not to overspend; it can be OK.
Another asked about an Olympic acceleration of displacement through gentrification and bidding up of land values; is there an intent to "bring in the rich?" Preckwinkle said there are checks, and the venues are in land that will go back to parkland or are vacant of people and will siphon off some of the land demand. She doubted there would be any mass displacement but said there needs to be means to help with the cost pressures on people.
Other panelists generally felt there would be little impetus from the Olympics for such bid-up or tear downs-- only a fool will do that for a two-week party--those who tried that in Atlanta lost their shirts. Obama's election, MacAloon and Sanderson said, would be more likely to have an effect than the Olympics.
Alison Hartman reiterated that seniors are already under pressure as to whether they can stay, citing findings of the Older Women's League. Preckwinkle agreed that there is considerable affordable seniors housing on the western edge of the neighborhood but not in Hyde Park.
The meeting was adjourned before noon.