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Chicago's 2016 Olympic Bid. The Hype and the Nitty Gritty

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PART 1 The Hype

As part of Chicago 2016’s ongoing effort to make legacy and sustainable benefits an integral part of its plan for the Olympic Games, the bid announced today the establishment of a multimillion dollar fund to support this goal. The intention of the grants is to support programs that aim to revitalize neighborhoods through affordable as well as market rate housing, and increase levels of education, job training and employment.

Mayor Richard Daley noted, “As we’ve said in the past, one of the great strengths of our city ( is that we work together with government, business and our communities to keep our city moving forward. Chicago is home to some of the most prominent and civic-minded foundations in the world, and this latest commitment underscores their generosity and continued investment in the future of our city and the development of our neighborhoods.”

From: Chicago 2016 Announces Community Initiative to Ensure Lasting Benefit of Olympic Games

Below; Extracts from the Applicant City Document

The Games provide an extraordinary opportunity to accelerate the sustainable redevelopment of Chicago’s South and West sides - two of the city’s key long-term urban-renewal priorities - leaving a lasting Olympic legacy. The Olympic Village (the area will be developed regardless of whether Chicago hosts the 2016 Games), Olympic Stadium and Olympic Aquatics Center will serve as catalysts for urban redevelopment and transformation, a process that is already under way.

In creating its plan, Chicago made the post-Games use of venues a priority, utilized existing and temporary facilities where possible and planned on building new facilities only where justified by long-term community needs and financial viability.

The Village’s lakefront location will feature a stunning array of amenities, including a 5,000-seat central dining hall, a running track and world-class fitness facility, a private beach and a promenade including shops, Internet cafes, service centers, clubs, a cinema and a concert stage. After the Games, the residential units will be converted to affordable, moderate and market rate housing. Mixed-use retail and residential amenities will form the core of a new, vibrant and sustainable neighborhood, served by mass-transit systems, on the city’s near South Side.

Chicago’s candidature will serve as a powerful catalyst for the city to expedite its long-term civic plans. Chicago is a leader in reforming public schools, enhancing public-safety and security initiatives, providing affordable housing in attractive and economically sound communities, ensuring accessibility for all and fostering social, economic and environmental sustainability.

Chicago’s Olympic Stadium represents a unique opportunity for the Olympic Movement. At the time of the Games, it will be a dramatic purpose-built athletics stadium that meets or exceeds the ideal standards of the IAAF and key Olympic and Paralympic constituencies. Post-Games, the scaled-down reconfigured stadium will be the centerpiece for the revitalization of Washington Park and Chicago’s South Side. The accessible, community-based venue will be used for sports, concerts and other civic events and can be expanded to host major international athletics events. The sustainable, cost-saving approach of the stadium design could be a blueprint for future host cities.

There is no organized opposition to the bid. Chicago 2016 is engaged in ongoing dialogue with individuals or groups that have expressed concerns about the impact of specific areas of the bid. While none of these individuals or groups has voiced opposition to bringing the Games to Chicago, the bid committee continues to work with each of them to find solutions to the issues they have raised.

Download the PDF from; Applicant File

PART 2. The Nitty Gritty


Wille "J R" Fleming addressing the housing displacement potential of the Olympics in Chicago.

Willie "J.R." Fleming is a Cabrini Green resident/organizer/documentarian/ website designer and researcher with the Coalition to Protect Public Housing, and presented testimony before the U.N. Office of the High Commission on Human Rights this year. He also led the March for the Right to Return with public housing residents and leaders in New Orleans during the Hurricane Katrina one-year memorial. He filmed and edited a gospelmentary titled "Voice of the Voiceless" along with several other short videos on housing that can be found at housingisahumanright.com. Before joining the Coalition to Protect Public Housing, Fleming was the director of a gang intervention music program for young men in Cabrini Green, and is currently the Chairman for the Hip Hop Congress Community Chapter in Chicago which deals with issues of social and economic injustice using music as a platform to unite the people. This year Fleming protested the U.S. Olympic Committee in Chicago by noting that the Olympics can cause poor people to be evicted from their communities and homes. He also took part in training housing and homelessness advoates on how to utilize housing as a human rights mechanism in the United States and educating their communities in fighting for housing as a human right.

Below ; Extracts from: A Report to the 'Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination' on Racial Discrimination in Homelessness and Affordable Housing in the United States, Dec 2007

...the Chicago housing market is becoming more inaccessible each day. Public housing is being eradicated, project-based Section 8 contracts in buildings housing thousands of people are set to expire, homelessness is on the rise, condo [Freehold] conversions have saturated the market, and private low income and affordable housing options have virtually disappeared

According to a recent study, only 20 percent of current and potential Chicago homeowners can afford the city’s median home price of about $250,000. ...the city is short by nearly 100,000 units of affordable to poor households. Additionally, there is an active effort within public housing developments in Chicago to displace the current residents in favor of gentrification.

Under its Plan for Transformation, the Chicago Housing Authority has sought to demolish the existing stock of affordable housing in favor of mixed-income development. 19,000 units of public housing have already been demolished without replacement. The dislocation of residents of Chicago public housing is an issue of racial justice given that approximately 84% of residents are African-American and 5.4% Latino.

At any given time, over half of the public housing authorities in Illinois have closed waiting lists for Housing Choice Vouchers – meaning families cannot even sign up to wait for assistance. 81.1% of Illinoisans eligible for Housing Choice Vouchers are not receiving them.

Even for those fortunate enough to receive a housing unit or a housing voucher, significant problems can persist, such as racial and economic segregation, placement in high crime areas with little or no economic development opportunities, overcrowded and infested buildings, and unresponsive landlords. The state of housing in Illinois only serves to perpetuate poverty and racial discrimination.

The Plan for Transformation guaranteed the CHA $1.6 billion in federal funds to demolish 51 high-rise buildings over a 10-year period and to replace them with lower-density, mixed income housing. However, when completed, the plan will have a total of 25,000 units – 13,000 fewer than Chicago had when the plan was approved in 2000. Based on the number of occupied units at the time and not the number of families in need, the CHA plan falls well short of the estimated need for 153,000 affordable housing units for people earning less than $20,000 a year, a figure determined by a city-supported study completed before the plan was approved.

Without new prevention and permanent housing resources, the city’s meager measures will have a devastating effect on homeless Chicagoans of color, and stand in the way of any significant steps toward eradicating homelessness.

Chicago’s 10-year Plan to End Homelessness, launched in 2003, severely underestimates the number of new permanent housing units needed because it only counts people currently in the shelter system, ignoring increasing numbers of people living in precarious housing situations. Since 2003, the City of Chicago has added only $3 million to the 10-year plan. This is only enough funding to create 18 new units of affordable housing for a city of nearly three million residents. Additionally, the city plans to eliminate more than 1,200 shelter beds by 2012, representing a 32 percent reduction.

CHA qualifying policies, moreover, have a disproportionate impact on people of color. Anyone considered in default of a CHA lease, owing money to a utility company, and ex-offenders with drug offenses are prohibited from occupying new public housing developments or Section 8 homes. Upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in March 2002, this last exemption reflects the national “one strike” policy that can result in eviction of entire families if one member or a visitor is convicted of a drug-related offense on CHA property

At the request of the Chicago Housing Authority, the Chicago Police Department is stopping African American men, women and children in the Cabrini Green and Harold Ickes housing developments, checking their identification, and if they do not posses a local address, charging them with trespassing, even if they have a valid reason to be in the area. Police data show that that there are over 220 arrests per month for trespassing. Sadly these numbers only represent two of the many public housing communities throughout America where similar systematic human right abuses take place.

See: Full Report attached below



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US NGOs_2007_Racial-Discrimination-in-Housing-HLN_Rpt-to-UN.pdf132.95 KB

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