Thursday, February 26, 2009

Humboldt Park Needs a Break

Humboldt Park can't win. For thirty years people left the neighborhood or had been stuck here with no means of moving up in the ladder. So it became a struggle to maintain and improve housing and quality of life in the neighborhood for residents. Then, gentrification began pushing west and was threatening the displacement of many longtime residents. So the struggle became one of fighting to remain in a neighborhood through keeping housing affordable. While all the non-profits and community organizations were fighting to create or maintain affordable housing, the sub-prime lenders got so many residents to believe they were ready to own. Bam. The housing foreclosure crisis. So now non-profits organizations are fighting educate residents on how to keep their homes and renegotiate with lenders. My observations has been that more often than not, foreclosure has been the best option for people. Now Humboldt Park is beset with abandoned, boarded up homes; sometimes three or four a block, gentrification has slowed to a crawl, and Humboldt Park is quickly bleeding residents. If you count Hermosa just to the north and West Garfield Park to the south, your looking at one of the most abandoned areas of our city.

Now i understand that I don't have a complete handle on the dynamics of what is going on, but instead of spending so much time trying to get unwilling lenders to renegotiate rates, it may look like we have to take a two pronged approach to save Humboldt Park and other neighborhoods. First housing organizations need to continue to educate and guide troubled homeowners through the process of saving or losing their home. Then non-profits such as Bickerdike, Hispanic Housing, NNNN, LSNA etc. should work on creating affordable housing by buying up all the foreclosed property at below market prices and buying as many "short sales" as they can, rehabbing them, and getting them on the market for an affordable price for new home owners or simply managing the properties as affordable housing for renters. If these organizations are serious about their commitment to the neighborhood, in the long run, and are wanting longtime residents to stick around, this is the opportunity to get more affordable housing under the control of community organizations that seek the betterment of the neighborhood and keep longtime residents in the community. Developers are not snapping up these properties so quick because of the credit crunch and banks unwilling top loan to any developer. Community and housing organizations have connections with other non-profit lending organizations that can work around all the red tape the developers deal with. Gentrification has been weakened in Humboldt Park, this is the break organizations and residents have been waiting for.


Nate said...

But how do these organizations get the money to buy these buildings when everybody's wallets are closing shut faster than humboldt park is bleeding residents when the collections hat goes around? Call Bill Gates? Aren't most of them scrapping by as it is?

Bill, Katie, and Liam said...

Yeah,I don't know. There is never enough money to do anything when the economy is good or ad. I just think that with all of these empty houses and organizations committed to housing issues and affordability there seems to be opportunity to do some different things.

Eric said...

I think if the city is that committed to affordability as far as housing then they could help acquire the houses from the banks where the foreclosures have happened. Something where the banks would get part of the mortgage from the person buying/renting part of the mortgage from the city and part from the organization. Fixed that problem.
I also think it is a great time to think outside the boundaries of what we usually do in a time when we can make some headway in solving some of these long standing problems, instead of nothing and allowing this opportunity to pass.

Just my thoughts.