Agenda: ‘Fundamentally Transform America’
Grim proving ground for Obama’s housing policy
As a state senator, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee coauthored an Illinois law creating a new pool of tax credits for developers. As a US senator, he pressed for increased federal subsidies. And as a presidential candidate, he has campaigned on a promise to create an Affordable Housing Trust Fund that could give developers an estimated $500 million a year.
But a Globe review found that thousands of apartments across Chicago that had been built with local, state, and federal subsidies – including several hundred in Obama’s former district – deteriorated so completely that they were no longer habitable.
Grove Parc and several other prominent failures were developed and managed by Obama’s close friends and political supporters. Those people profited from the subsidies even as many of Obama’s constituents suffered. Tenants lost their homes; surrounding neighborhoods were blighted.
Grim proving ground for Obama’s housing policy – The Boston Globe
Among those tied to Obama politically, personally, or professionally are:
Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to Obama’s presidential campaign and a member of his finance committee. Jarrett is the chief executive of Habitat Co., which managed Grove Parc Plaza from 2001 until this winter and co-managed an even larger subsidized complex in Chicago that was seized by the federal government in 2006, after city inspectors found widespread problems.
Obama and South Chicago Slum Developers
The mess began with a massive wave of housing projects. When construction of the Robert Taylor Homes, named after an African-American activist and former CHA board member, was completed in 1962, it was the largest public housing project in the nation, with 4,415 apartments in 28 high-rise buildings. Richard J. Daley, the current Mayor Richard M. Daley’s father, was mayor of Chicago.
In time, the Robert Taylor Homes and many other CHA properties became open sores of poverty and crime.
Valerie Jarrett is Robert Taylor’s granddaughter.
On October 11, 1991, the Chicago Tribune reported (article available via the Tribune archives) that,
“Continuing what he described as “sweeping changes” in the structure of city government, Mayor Richard [M.] Daley Thursday announced the merger of the city’s Planning Department and Economic Development Department, to be headed by Valerie Jarrett, his former deputy chief of staff.”
Eventually, one piece of Daley’s reform initiatives involved the Chicago city government out-sourcing ownership and operation of Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) low-rent, subsidized public housing to private developers. The city also subsidized private enterprises to build new affordable housing.