Monday, February 25, 2008

"Affordable" doesn't have to be a synonym for "slum"

Some members of the Forest Park Civic Association seem to be having second thoughts about the plan by WinnCompanies to develop the abandoned Longhill Gardens Condominiums into affordable housing, according to this morning's Republican.

Their concerns are understandable-- Longhill Gardens was incredibly mismanaged; the apartments were not maintained; in the last years of their current life, crime plagued the buildings and the neighborhood.

The WinnCompanies' proposal to buy and rehabilitate the buildings for "affordable" housing is being interpreted by some as an opportunity for the worst elements of the buildings' old life to recur. But it doesn't have to be that way.

A mixed income renovation seems to be what WinnCompanies has in mind. The project will be designed for those earning 60% of the median income. Using 200 census figures, 60% of the median income for a family would be about 22,000-- not rich by any means, not even middle-class, but I'd say solidly working class-- families don't bring in that much money on public assistance or Social Security.

Some thoughts for the Civic Association to ponder:
  • -- Every abandoned home on a street drives down the value of other homes by 6 to 7%.
  • -- Springfield lost more than 1,200 units of housing in the 90's. How can we be the City of Homes without housing?
  • -- Forewarned is forearmed. With the Civic Association in discussion with WinnCompanies from the beginning, neighborhood needs are much more likely to be addressed.

The city has had more than its share of bad property managers. Here's hoping the city and the neighborhood thoroughly research WinnCompanies' properties; here's hoping it's a good match for Springfield.

Photo: Oak Grove Village, Melrose, WinnCompanies.


Heather B said...

Thanks for writing about this, Michaelann. I also wrote up a piece about WinnDevelopment's plans and a little about their approach to management.

charliek said...

My two cents here:
It has been proven that a 60/40 mix of market rent for the 60% and subsidized or "assisted" rent for the 40% works.

I have no real knowledge of the Winn Development Group, but feel that almost anything is better than nothing at all.

I will read with interest heather b's comments.

Lets get behind some improvements around here, I have seen 6 - 8 mayoral terms in which we seem to have torn down many times as much housing stock as we put up, and then wonder why we have people with no place to live,

duh ?

charlie k.

Michaelann Bewsee said...

Thanks, Heather and Charlie. Of course, one question about affordable housing is, Affordable to whom? I will keep saying that.

Anonymous said...

Longhill Gardens is not being developed in the best interest of Springfield
In a city where we have more than abundant affordable housing, 111 additional units are not needed.
Why weren't other proposals sought from other developers? What other options could have been pursued that would not have led to wholesale evictions, condemnation and that site now sitting abandoned?