Chicago SRO plan spurred by picket at mayor's home FWD

Tom Boland (
Sat, 6 Feb 1999 22:50:46 -0800 (PST)

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FWD  Chicago Sun Times - January 20, 1999


     By Fran Spielman - City Hall Reporter

Chicago will build four new single-room occupancy buildings and help
existing SROs provide social services needed to break the cycle of
homelessness, under a $50 million mayoral plan unveiled Tuesday.

``The key to SRO housing is counseling and [rehabilitation]. ... It's not
just housing. It's the whole person,'' Mayor Daley said.

The decision to picket Daley's South Loop town house to press for more SROs
obviously got City Hall's attention, said John Donahue, executive director
of the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless.

``He got the message. ... Homelessness is a solvable problem and this is
part of the solution,'' he said.

Daley has been under fire as the number of SRO units dropped from 35,000
during the mid-1970s to 17,000 when he took office in 1989 and 15,000 today.

``The primary factor has been the increased value of the property,'' said
Jean Butzen, executive director of Lakefront SRO. Deferred maintenance and
declining resident incomes are other factors, she said.

The $50 million program announced Tuesday calls for:

* Four new SROs--with 400 new units and social services--to be jointly
financed by the city, the Illinois Housing Development Authority and the
Corporation for Supportive Housing.

* $1 million in additional city grants to help existing, for-profit SROs
comply with fire code changes made after the deadly Paxton Hotel fire.


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