Un-affordable housing follies, North Lawndale edition

“The dream lives on in Lawndale,” chanted the crowd, which included the obligatory coterie of local pols and pastors, at the opening of a new “affordable” apartment complex on donated urban rental land where Martin Luther King stayed in Chicago in the 1960s.

You can read the details at the New Communities Program Web site in an article entitled North Lawndale’s Living MLK Legacy.

If you pay attention, you’ll also note that the 45 apartment units and 4,500 square feet of ground-level retail space in the project were completed at a cost of $17.7 million.

As a passionate supporter of fair and open access to quality housing, I’m disgusted every time I read about another $400K-per-unit (round numbers) “affordable” housing project. The process that results in so-called affordable housing seems to have devolved into unconstrained economic madness. Are we really serving the poor when we use resources this way? How many distressed properties could private developers have bought and made livable for that $17.7M in a community where the median sale price of a home last month was $17K?

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