Wednesday, July 01, 2009

CHA Mixed Income Buildings - Is it working?

The Chicago Tribune published this article yesterday under the title of CHA mixed-income building has class clash

Are you living in one of these mixed income buildings? Is it working? What's your story?

This is important to us at Cabrini Connections because much of the Cabrini-Green area where we draw kids from has been converted into mixed income buildings. Some of our kids live in these new units, and some still live in the Row Houses.

We only have 65-75 teens in the program each year, and some live in neighborhoods beyond Cabrini Green as a result of moving from the area, or as a result of parents making a strong case for us to accept their kids.

However, it's getting more and more difficult to attract funding because many donors think that tutor/mentor programs are no longer needed for the Cabrini Green area, due to the massive growth of mixed income, and upper income buildings in the area.

However, I'd like people living in these mixed income areas to think in a different way. If you read the Tribune article there is quite a bit of strife between the two income groups living together in these buildings. What if this causes more people to not want to purchase units. What will that do to property values?

Wouldn't it make sense to invest in programs that create some interaction and bonding between the youth and adults of the two economic brackets. That's what programs like Cabrini Connections do. They connect people who would not normally be interacting with each other.

Building managers don't have expertise in organizing these programs. We do. Wouldn't it make sense to invest in these types of programs, as an investment in your property values?

Think of it. If you paid $400,000 for a unit and the property value declines 20% because people don't want to buy, that's a $80,000 loss. Doesn't it make sense to donate a couple thousand dollars a year to a tutor/mentor program with the goal that you make mixed income housing work, so your property values go up?

What if you're not in the Cabrini Green area. What if you want to start a program like Cabrini Connections? Where do you find the ideas for building such a program, or people to mentor you and your leaders to help a new program grow from being a start-up, to being good, then being great?

That's what the Tutor/Mentor Connection offers. When you invest in Cabrini Connections, you're also investing in the T/MC. You're supporting our efforts to create a library of information that can help people in neighborhoods throughout the Chicago region, and in other cities, build programs that connect people from mixed income brackets, and different social and age brackets. You're investing in the diversity of the city.

What if the economy caused us to cease operations? Who would provide the services we provide?

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