Save our public housing, says tenants

Lathrop Homes residents ask city to rehab, not demolish their complex

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By JANEEN WYNN

Residents in a Chicago neighborhood continue the fight to save public housing in their community from being demolished by the Chicago Housing Authority.

Lathrop Homes, located on the Northwest Side along the Chicago River near Clybourn and Diversey, are set to be torn down within the next year. The 70-year-old complex is set to be replaced with a mixed-income development through Mayor Richard Daley's Plan for Transformation.

Residents of Lathrop Homes and the surrounding Logan Square neighborhood hosted a press conference Wednesday at Chicago Temple, 77 W. Washington, to stress their continued opposition. They consider the public housing complex to be a staple in their community.

"Maintaining public housing in this area with its access to jobs, transportation, decent supermarkets and good schools is the key to helping people help themselves," resident Robert Davidson said.

Liala Beukema, who doesn't live in the low-rise public housing units but on the same block, still considers herself a part of Lathrop.

"We're a neighborhood. Whether you live in Lathrop or if you live across the street," Beukema said.

Residents argue that the property, built in the 1930s and stretching more than 12 blocks, contributes to the area's diversity.

"Yes, Lathrop Homes is public housing," Beukema said, "but it has some incredible elements that we hope are influential and inspiring."

CHA plans to build 1,200 units in eight- and nine-story buildings where the complex stands. Residents fear if the city goes through with redevelopment plans, housing costs will be set at market rates, and they will be pushed out of their homes.

Jim Peters, president of Landmarks Illinois, worked with residents to create an alternative redevelopment plan to present to CHA. Peters said the plan - which consists of rehabbing the brick buildings instead of tearing them down - will be much easier on the residents and environment.

CHA officials did not respond to requests for comment, but previously promised the plan would be considered.

"Our analysis shows they can easily be reconfigured into larger units," Peters said. "We urge the CHA to preserve and rehab Lathrop Homes, making it available for
people to use right away."

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