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Grove Parc tenants say loud and clear ‘We won’t go!’

by Matt Ginsberg-Jaeckle |
September 8, 2007
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Chicago, IL - “Ain’t no power like the power of the people ‘cause the power of the people don’t stop!” echoed up and down Cottage Grove, Aug. 25, during the Hands Around Grove Parc demonstration. Tenants and supporters linked hands and held signs saying “Urban renewal = black removal” and “I live in Grove Parc, I want to stay, not gonna go no way!” as passing cars honked and cheered the demonstrators on.

Grove Parc Plaza Apartments is a 504-unit subsidized complex on Cottage Grove between 60th and 63rd Street in the gentrifying Woodlawn community on Chicago’s South Side. It sits on valuable land blocks south of the University of Chicago and the proposed site of the 2016 Olympic Stadium. The complex failed two inspections last year and HUD is threatening to foreclose. As tenant Shanquanta Price explained at a packed meeting with HUD last June, “A long time the apartments haven’t been fixed up, now all of a sudden all these pretty houses getting built up they say, oh now we discovered y’all living in crud.”

People across the country are watching Grove Parc for the precedent it will set for the future of large subsidized housing complexes. HUD has two choices. It can keep the housing, or it can close the complex and give tenants vouchers, which would cause many to become homeless.

Ever since the demolition of public housing there are few remaining family-sized apartments that accept vouchers. Vouchers can’t be used on a block with multiple empty lots or abandoned buildings, are lost if they go unused for 180 days and tenants using them are forced to move every time a landlord fails inspections.

The alternative is to turn the complex over to a new owner who will work with tenants to bring the complex up to code and keep it subsidized. This is a real possibility, as national non-profit Preservation Of Affordable Housing is making progress in negotiations with the current owner. They have met with the Grove Parc Tenants Association and believe they have the resources to carry out its vision, which is to keep at least 300 subsidized units on site and transfer the rest within the neighborhood. But HUD is under pressure from powerful forces to ignore this alternative, pass out vouchers, and make way for new development on this valuable land.

Mary George, a 35-year resident of the complex and grandmother of five who works full time as a day care provider and retail clerk explains , “Grove Parc was beautiful when it was built. It was like a small village, a real community. If it is placed into the right hands, we believe that it can be that way again, and we want to be here for the change. Single mothers, the elderly, people with disabilities, we all need affordable housing.”

For more information: Call (773) 753-9674 or email [email protected].