MacArthur has announced two grants totaling $160,000 to support resident leadership engaged in the citywide effort to transform pubic housing in Chicago.
The City of Chicago is in the midst of the most extensive overhaul of public housing in the nation. Under its Plan for Transformation, which began in 1999, the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) will demolish more than 16,000 public housing units and renovate or build approximately 25,000 new units over the next seven to ten years as part of the $1.6 billion effort.
The Foundation, which views the Transformation Plan as an historic opportunity to bring major improvements to one of the nation's largest public housing systems, has so far provided almost $16 million to more than 60 organizations contributing to the overall effort. Grants have been made to community-based organizations, technical assistance providers, representatives of the CHA tenants, research groups, and to the CHA itself.
The Foundation's current grantmaking related to the Transformation Plan has three main objectives: 1) addressing major barriers to successful implementation of the plan, such as the challenge of successfully relocating residents, 2) building the capacity of key players, such as city agencies and community-based service providers to contribute to implementation of the plan, and 3) ensuring that reliable information about the plan is available to all who need it, especially public housing residents who are affected by the plan.
A grant of $115,000 to the Greater Southwest Community Development Corporation will support leadership development, life skills, and job training programs for public housing residents of LeClaire Courts. The grant will build on current efforts to connect resident leaders to other local leaders in the neighborhood and to explore how residents might benefit from the expansion underway at Midway Airport.
A grant of $45,000 has been made to the Central Advisory Council to support a two-day training session for resident leaders of public housing developments in the City of Chicago. The training, which follows on previous Foundation grants to support the involvement of public housing residents in the redevelopment process, will focus on strengthening leadership skills and capacities.
Earlier this year, the Foundation awarded a grant of $385,000 to the Development Training Institute in support of tenant leaders and others to plan for physical redevelopment, as well as a planning grant of $60,000 to Ujima, a new nonprofit organization established by the resident leaders of the Madden Park and Ida B. Wells developments.
Since December of 1999, the Foundation has made 58 grants totaling $15,990,900 in support of public housing transformation. For example, grants have been awarded to build the information and management systems of the Chicago Housing Authority and to establish communications, asset management, and quality assurance programs; to the Chicago Video Project, the Metropolitan Planning Council, and Residents' Journal to develop radio and cable programs, videos, posters, newspaper inserts, and other materials about the Plan for Transformation; to engage a broad range of organizations, including churches and other faith-based institutions, in the overall effort; and to support the research and policy analysis of the Urban Institute, Columbia University, the National Opinion Research Center, and others in order to ensure that the redevelopment of public housing is based on reliable information.