Mixed income housing to be built at former Taylor Homes site

May 21, 2008 4:51:46 PM PDT
There will soon be new life in what used to be Chicago's Robert Taylor Homes housing complex. The CHA's Coleman Place will be home for residents with a mixture of incomes and life experiences.

New development along State Street south of 39th Street welcomes residents of all incomes. Public housing resident Mary Dison was grateful to leave Altgeld Gardens for her new apartment.

"I love where I'm at. I have peace. I have joy," Dison said.

Her apartment is part of mixed income housing. There will be three mixed income developments along that stretch of State Street. And in each development, public housing and affordable housing will be available along with market rate units for sale. The units for sale will have upgraded items to rival any new condos nearby.

"We make the neighborhood. And if we all stick together, this neighborhood could look exactly like it's looking now," said Dison.

"There's so much in this community and there's such an opportunity here to build a new community, a new neighborhood, with families of all income levels, who can live together and create a new community and themselves," said Whitney Weller, Michaels Development.

Part of the new development along State Street stands on the site of the notorious Robert Taylor Homes. The high-rise public housing project was demolished last year as part of the Chicago Housing Authority's transformation of public housing.

At the heart of the transformation is mixed-income housing. CHA estimates 25,000 units of housing will be rehabilitated or built. Some say it's not enough.

"The number of units that are coming back on site for public housing units is nowhere near the number that was demolished," said Ethan Michaeli, Residents' Journal.

Michaeli is the publisher of a non-profit newspaper focusing on public housing issues. He says a gap in affordable and fully subsidized housing will lead to problems for all Chicagoans.

"What we can expect in the city is an increase in homelessness and an increase in violence the way that we saw at the beginning of the spring. You're going to see a surge, I hope not, but I have to predict that someone has been watching things in the community, we're going to see a surge in violence as people get more desperate," said Michaeli.

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