Roosevelt Square is one of the largest, most incomplete redevelopments of federal public housing in the nation. It began in 1996/’97 with a $24 million HOPE VI grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to the Chicago Housing Authority. For a variety of reasons – including the real estate recession compounded by institutional inertia, poor planning and execution – nearly two decades later at a cost of at least $200 million of public funds, it is substantially incomplete and still needs significant community input. Only twenty five percent of the housing planned in the contract for redevelopment of the site has been developed. When complete, it will occupy over one hundred acres of land once home to the Chicago Housing Authority’s ABLA Homes. There are nearly two thousand units of mixed income housing yet to be built per the contract for redevelopment between the Chicago Housing Authority and the private development company Related Midwest. The success of Roosevelt Square is critical to the success of our entire community.
Connecting4Communities is working diligently to ensure the success of Roosevelt Square by actively soliciting and coordinating community input and by working closely with the Chicago Housing Authority, the City of Chicago, Related Midwest, and other large community institutions to help improve upon the successes of the existing development, and to help successfully address the challenges facing its future. Connecting4Communities successfully advocated that the CHA procure master planning technical services to develop a new master plan for this largely incomplete redevelopment. In the fall of 2014, CHA hired a team led by the Chicago architecture and planning firm, Solomon Cordwell and Buenz, and the real estate firm, CBRE/U.S. Equities, to develop a new master plan.
Data on HOPE VI redevelopments of public housing is becoming increasingly available and Connecting4Communities is using this data to inform its strategies to ensure the success of Roosevelt Square. The HOPE VI Plan for the revitalization of the ABLA Homes recognizes the importance of quality public education to the success of this development and academic research supports that recognition. The public position of the HOPE VI consultant on the project identifies two issues critical to the Plan for Transformation’s success: access to quality public education and not geographically concentrating, and thus isolating, its low income residents in any particular area of the development. Addressing both of these issues to help ensure the success of Roosevelt Square will be a priority of Connecting4Communities.