Save Altgeld Coalition – Chicago IL, USA
Project Goal: To support the community coalition in establishing a sustainable action plan.
Big Win: After presenting the community made plan to Chicago Housing Authority the coalition saved 97% of the houses slated for demolition.
Services provided: Facilitation, community design, Community engagement, analysis, advocacy, client representation
The Chicago Housing Authority earmarked $7.3 million of its proposed 2013 budget for “planning for demolition” of 648 units at Altgeld. “They wanted to just knock down the vacant units with no future plans,” she says, in a tone of disbelief. The demolition would have cut the number of units at the project by around a third. Johnson says that over 200 Altgeld residents showed up at the public comment meeting on the budget after the “planning for demolition” came to light. Activist organizations throughout the city, including the Chicago Housing Initiative, Preservation Chicago, and Architecture for Humanity, banded together to form the Save Altgeld Coalition. When PCR discovered that Altgeld had, in 1993, been found eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, the organization contacted the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which began a review of the CHA’s development plans. As an eligible location for Historic Place status, any major changes to Altgeld must be reviewed by HUD.
Altgeld residents have put forth their own community development plan for Altgeld and the surrounding area. The plan is an attempt “to show them,” Johnson says, “that we have a vision as much as they have a vision.” In collaboration with Open Architecture Chicago and several green-tech businesses, including Biojam, a clean-energy company headed by PCR board president Christian Strachan, they plan to bring in a variety of green initiatives to create jobs and help deal with the persistent environmental problems in the area.