Residents criticize plan for Champaign subsidized housing

Residents criticize plan for Champaign subsidized housing

CHAMPAIGN — More than 100 people packed the Champaign City Council chambers Tuesday night, many of them there to criticize a plan to put subsidized housing in west Champaign near the Turnberry Ridge subdivision.

But Champaign Mayor Don Gerard prefaced public comments on the project by saying the city had no control over the development "except to make sure that the codes are enforced."

The project, which is to be built on 12 acres on Cobblefield Road west of Interstate 57, is sponsored by the Housing Authority of Champaign County.

Housing authority Executive Director Edward Bland, who attended Tuesday's city council meeting, said a public hearing on the project would be held May 15 "and we'll have additional hearings if people want them."

When asked if the project was "a done deal," as one speaker had inquired, Bland responded, "The housing authority followed all the proper procedures. The land was zoned for multifamily use in 2004. We could build more than 200 units there but this calls for 160."

Many of the nearly two dozen people who addressed the city council contended that the development would exacerbate traffic congestion in the area. But others objected to subsidized housing near upscale subdivisions.

"Had I known in 2011 when I was in Afghanistan that there was going to be an apartment building, let alone subsidized housing, I would have told my wife we're not going to live there," said George Vargas, a local attorney. "This is simple economics. I made a decision to live somewhere where property taxes are higher, where I wanted to live in a single-family subdivision."

But Betty Smith, also of Champaign, endorsed the project.

"I come from low income. I come from public aid. I've worked at the University of Illinois for 28 years," she said. "To put a stigma on Section 8 (housing) is wrong. This is not how Champaign County needs to operate."

Also Tuesday, the city council approved the final development plan for Parking Lot J at the northwest corner of Sixth and Green streets. The plan calls for two 12-story buildings, including a 108-room Mariott Town Place Suites hotel, retail space, apartment units and a parking garage.

Construction is scheduled to begin this fall and will be completed in August 2015, said Jill Guth of JSM Development.

JSM would pay the city almost $4 million for the parking lot.

"This kind of a project is transformational for our community and transformational for Campustown," said council member Tom Bruno. "Having a hotel in Campustown will bring us up to probably an amenity that is enjoyed in almost every other Big Ten community."

Mayor Don Gerard said the two developers that did not win the Lot J project are working on other Campustown developments.

"It's really a good sign that we're going to be having a lot of activity going on, creating a lot of jobs and commerce," Gerard said.

Comments embraces discussion of both community and world issues. We welcome you to contribute your ideas, opinions and comments, but we ask that you avoid personal attacks, vulgarity and hate speech. We reserve the right to remove any comment at our discretion, and we will block repeat offenders' accounts. To post comments, you must first be a registered user, and your username will appear with any comment you post. Happy posting.

Login or register to post comments

ajbuckle wrote on April 09, 2013 at 11:04 pm


I am deeply troubled to hear that this decision is made by an unelected official.  Who is Edward Bland?  Why is there no democratic process?


Meanwhile, please allow me to argue on the merits of the location:


1.  The low income residents will not be well served by that location.  It is on the far side of the highway, limiting access to walking and public transport.  It is also far from grocery stores, and places of employment.


2.  SW Champaign is a major part of the property tax base in Champaign.  You will drive down the values of properties there.  Maybe it serves your socialist notions of equality.  But, it will also rob the city of tax dollars.  Then, our poor will be even less well served than today.


3.  This population has lower access to transportation already, and now their kids will have low accessability to schools and libraries?

SaintClarence27 wrote on April 10, 2013 at 6:04 am

I have problems with Bland refusing to answer direct questions. I also am concerned that I was told he sold his house in Turn berry just prior to the announcement..

cretis16 wrote on April 10, 2013 at 7:04 am

Look for a drop of 40% in home values in Turnberry....and a lot of police calls.

SaintClarence27 wrote on April 10, 2013 at 7:04 am

Not with mixed income - this isn't section 8.

Chelsea wrote on May 13, 2013 at 12:05 am

Absolutely! The properties in that area have recently gone on the market at a shocking rate.  I lived in that neighborhood & for the first time, felt very safe. I have a great background in social issues and would be more than happy to share statistics, crime rates in section 8 areas, etc. I work my butt off to live somewhere that I feel safe but what I thought would be an investment turned out to be a dodged bullet.  Section 8 belongs somewhere more convenient for those living there & if it brings down the value of our investments and our home security, then I am getting very discouraged with whoever is making these decisions.  There are people who are having to live in section 8 areas that probably are wonderful & possess great morals and guess what, there ARE options to get you out of those living situations if that is what you want.  I would be more than happy to offer my advice to these specific people.  As for the crime that goes along with section 8-- let's not spread that out across our city! How about you try & focus on making the present section 8 housing better instead of just spreading it out.  Who exactly is making this decision?  You aren't getting my vote!!!

djward wrote on April 10, 2013 at 4:04 am

Parking Lot J is at northWEST corner of Sixth & Green, yes?

Mike Howie wrote on April 10, 2013 at 8:04 am
Profile Picture

You are correct. Story has been fixed. Our apologies.

Mike Howie, online editor

PsG wrote on April 10, 2013 at 10:04 am

Please put this article back on the first page. It went from 'in the recent' to fourth page of 'more news'. This meeting just occurred last night at city hall...with way more than 100 people (in fact a full house) in attendance from the adjoining properties including businesses and homes. Providence at Thornberry is the proposed or I guess already inked deal that is our concern.

Little information has been available to us as homeowners, and we are trying to learn why this is happening in such location that does not facilitate easy access to amenities such as shopping, transportation, etc. for public housing, or any type of multi-family income level housing.

This is important to the surrounding community, and many came to the meeting to be heard. Some very good points were made, and we were listened to. However, it sounds like it was a done deal before we even heard about it.

Give the online viewers a chance to see this article easily instead of having to search to the fourth page of "more news".



SaintClarence27 wrote on April 10, 2013 at 10:04 am

Well the meeting was not really the appropriate forum. The appropriate forum would be with the County HUD department. Unfortunately, I agree, it seems from the quote above (or the weaseling out of answering), that this is a done deal.

ajbuckle wrote on April 10, 2013 at 1:04 pm

But wait, he said that there would be more open forums.  Is it just wasting our breath to go to those?  Do those other meetings actually even exist?

PsG wrote on April 10, 2013 at 1:04 pm

I am inclined to think that the offer of more meetings was to placate/pacify us, not that anything will change. 

I found it interesting that the housing authority director sat quietly in the back left side after a brief moment at the podium, in which he said nothing of value about our situation. All he offered was his name, and email address. 

I am contacting our Rep. Davis who might know more about the federal part of this, being that HUD is involved.

We at our condominum community directly bordering the development site (I am within 50 feet at the most)  are feeling like we have been 'sold out' by the owner of the property, which happens to be the property management agency for our property as well, as they  still own many units mingled among our condos.

For us to only have learned of this development in the past couple weeks is just not fair or good practice. This has been in the works for a long the planning. You can find it on the developer's website that they were excited to be included in Champaign's consideration for such housing  back in 2012! Maybe it was just finalized recently, but still it was something we could have had input on had we known.

We are a mix of seniors, retired residents, grad students, working families, and young professionals. We adhere to property convenants and have a home owner association to assure we do just that. We are proud of our community that has so far had a bit of a country flair due to that lot that is going to be the future housing development. Right now it has vegation, wildlife, water, and peace and quiet. All that is in jeopardy.

The main concerns of safety for all, transportation, and accessibility are utmost.

SaintClarence27 wrote on April 10, 2013 at 2:04 pm

There is apparently a scheduled meeting of the Board of Commissioners on April 25, 2013. I would certainly encourage everyone to attend:


The Board of Commissioners Meeting will be held on April 25, 2013 at 3:00 p.m. at the Administration building located at 205 W. Park Ave., Champaign.

I have no idea whether the May 15 meeting exists or not - it is not on their website. With the less-than-forthcoming response by Ed Bland quoted above, I think it would behoove those who want their opinions heard to attend the April 25 meeting. I am certainly concerned that the final decision may have already been made. I am absolutely for public input. I think a lot of the issues commented on previously are racism-based, but every citizen (and particularly those who are directly affected) should be able to be heard by their government prior to a decision being made.

EHL wrote on April 10, 2013 at 3:04 pm

I encourage all who read this article to post a comment here, to keep the story on the front page of the News Gazette.

I am a resident/owner at Cobblefield Point, the condomiums located right next to the proposed site for the new subsidized housing complex.  I attended this meeting last evening.  As a correction to one of the comments above, the proposed plan does include a large percentage of the units to be eligible for Section 8 vouchers.  This isn't "just" a subsidized housing complex.

There were several topics discussed at the meeting which this article did not report on.  

The first is that while the Champaign Housing Authority was the major player here, they did not adequately notify residents of the neighborhood of their upcoming plans to build this development.  They apparently sent letters out to residents within 500 feet of the proposed building site, which likely includes the folks living at Crow Wood Townhomes and Cobblefield Point.  The residents at Cobblefield Point were not even notified individually, as the letter went directly to Ramshaw Real Estate, which manages our association and property, and Ramshaw took no effort to notify Cobblefield residents.  There is perhaps a conflict of interest, as Ramshaw owned the land that they sold to the Benoit Group who is developing the subsidized housing construction.

The major concerns aired by Turnberry Ridge residents involved the impact that a subsidized housing complex would being in terms of increased traffic load to the already congested roads in the community, the lack of existing infrastructure to support a subsidized housing complex (no pedestrian roads for access to supermarkets, no public transportation service), and concerns of increased crime and drug trafficking activity that has historically accompanied section 8 housing.  Consequently, there are geniune concerns that this would lead to a decline of property values to the neighborhood.  

Housing Authority director Ed Bland was in attendance at the meeting.  He spoke for perhaps 20 seconds, offering his phone number and email, but otherwise offering no details on the project.  He also did not specify when the next Housing Authority meeting would be that residents could attend - this is apparently information the NG reporter obtained independently because I do not remember it being announced yesterday by either Bland or the city council.  

Director Bland was actually hired to work for Champaign after some controversy at his previous post:

The response from the city council members was disheartening.  Their attitude was basically that it is a "private deal" and out of the city's control.  In fact, they implied that the city had absolutely no decision on the matter, other than a decision ten years ago to zone the land for multifamily housing.  Council member McIntosh remarked that "it was inevitable that multifamily housing would be built there" and acknowledged that a traffic study might be warranted.  This was echoed by council member Faraci.  Council member LaDue inexplicably said that he did not expect property values to drop - I have no idea how he can possibly back up that statement.  He also stated that proposed rents were adequately high to inspire residents to maintain the property and take pride in their units; this was quite misleading since the rents did not take into account any subsidies or section 8 vouchers which would pay for the majority of that rent. There was absolutely no acknowledgement from any of the city council members about what the plan would be to control crime.  In fact, not a single city council member mentioned the possible issue of increased crime and drug activity as a consequence of section 8 housing.  Perhaps they did not want to alienate the residents in the audience who are not Turnberry Ridge residents and who argued that as subsidized housing residents, they should be able to live wherever they pleased.

At the moment, it seems the city council have washed their hands of this matter, and are unwilling act any further.  I encourage all residents of Turnberry Ridge to attend future Housing Authority meetings to express their concerns about this development.

ajbuckle wrote on April 10, 2013 at 5:04 pm

I suspect that you were prevented from knowing about this, precisely because it is known what your reaction would have been.  Now it is too late, and they have tricked you into what amounts to the rape of your neighborhood.  Or just wait a year or two, and then you can read about the actual rape that will occur on your street.


Where did Ed Bland move to when he ditched Turnberry Ridge?  I'll bet his new neighborhood isn't slated to receive a bunch of new housing vouchers.


SaintClarence27 wrote on April 10, 2013 at 6:04 pm

This deal definitely seems shady - to make it a done deal before receiving any public input for a government action. I will say, however, that the City really doesn't have any say in the matter - this is a HUD thing.

SaintClarence27 wrote on April 10, 2013 at 6:04 pm

I would hope that the N-G is looking into both Ed's home sale as well as the lack of public input here.

ROB McCOLLEY wrote on April 13, 2013 at 12:04 pm
Profile Picture

LaDue's comment doesn't surprise me. In a sense, he's right.


I know a Section 8 landlord. He told me that Section 8 tends to RAISE rents, because landlords (necessarily) DOUBLE their asking price. They know they'll get the 50% required from HUD, and they know they WILL NOT get the 50% from the tenants. 

poudresteve wrote on April 10, 2013 at 8:04 pm

Every neighborhood should have a balance of incomes - just because you pay more for your house doesn't mean you get to live outside the United States of America.  Basically every argument posted here against the development is a NIMBY or veiled racist those west of I-57 should not have to deal with issues that occur on the other side of the highway?  Give me a break.

We should be applauding economic development in our community in these troubled economic times - this will bring construction and property management jobs.

barfish11 wrote on April 11, 2013 at 2:04 am

Interesting… claim those voicing concerns over this issue are making racial arguments, albeit “veiled”.   I would like to point out that YOU, my friend, are the only one to tie together low income families/crime with racism.  Granted you did not specify what race was being discriminated against, so maybe you can enlighten us readers and clarify. Is low income and crime the sole province of a certain race or ethnic group? And if poverty and crime are not specific to one categorized group of people, then is it racism or a socioeconomic issue? One last question; what is worse, veiled racism or voiced bigotry?

We are all entitled to our thoughts, beliefs, and opinions…..regardless of perception.


ROB McCOLLEY wrote on April 13, 2013 at 12:04 pm
Profile Picture

Why do some people think "NIMBY" refutes all argument?  What's wrong with the desire to control activities that occur in one's own backyard?


I'm pleased that Don at least gave lip service to code enforcement. Oh Jeebus how I wish Urbana would enforce its own ordinances.

SaintClarence27 wrote on April 13, 2013 at 11:04 pm

It's not one's own backyard. One owns their own backyard. This "yard" is owned by someone else.

sweet caroline wrote on April 10, 2013 at 9:04 pm

I disagree.  Every neighborhood should NOT have to include balanced incomes.  That is a socialist train of thought if ever there was one.  People who can afford it purposely build or move to high-end subdivisions so that they can enjoy their homes and families without having to worry about high crime levels.  I know, I know, section 8 doesn't mean high crime.  I've heard it over and over.  Well, that hasn't been my experience living in southeast Urbana, which used to have safe, beautiful neighborhoods before section 8 took over.  Week after week, we're losing good homeowners who have lived here for 50+ years, who are selling their homes (which have significantly decreased in value) for no other reason than they fear for their safety due to the gangs and crime moving in to the neighborhood, almost all of it associated with section 8 housing. 

The residents in the upscale subdivisions in southwest Champaign are, and should be, very concerned and angry at what HUD, another bureaucracy of the government, is pushing on them.  Yes, it's a private developer doing the building, but HUD is at the forefront of the plan.  

SaintClarence27 wrote on April 10, 2013 at 9:04 pm

yes, and those high-end subdivisions do not get to exclude other people. If they didn't want the land used, then they could have bought it years ago. Sorry.

aantulov wrote on April 10, 2013 at 9:04 pm

Don't stop coming to the meetings, hire a lawyer collectively fight it a if your entire life savings tied up in your home depends upon it.

ROB McCOLLEY wrote on April 13, 2013 at 12:04 pm
Profile Picture

Steve Poudre - can I get a copy of your manifesto?

RJ73 wrote on April 10, 2013 at 9:04 pm

I have yet to see a well thought, well reasoned argument on why this development is a GOOD idea for THIS location.  Economic development?  Hardly.  Bringing new jobs to the community? Not at all....these are jobs performed by companies that already exist in this area....this will not bring any extra employment.  If you are going to applaud the effort, applaud it for what it effort to create good homes for those who may need help.  No sugar coating necessary, unless you need to justify this fact to yourself.

That being said, this location makes no sense whatsoever.  Public transportation in this area is pretty much non-existent, and there is poor access to retail/grocery shopping in this area.  It is not conveniently located to schools, libraries, doctors, or hospitals.  How is this helping those that will reside out there due to their economic position?  As fuel costs approach $4/gallon, being incoveniently located to access of critical community resources seems to be, well, just plain stupid, and it negates/offsets the full economic advantage that it is meant to create for the residents.  I'm sure simple ideas like this are not factored in to the true benefit (or lack of) when choosing a just allows the housing authority to puff their chest and tell everybody how good they are.

Despite efforts to make this issue more than what this really is, this boils down to the effort of a company (Ramshaw Real Estate) to knowlingly and willingly not inform a community it is supposed to represent (as it's title of 'property managers' would suggest) to best serve their own economic interests. What happened to their fiduciary duty to protect their clients best interests? With any luck, maybe this company can be held liable for not fully disclosing information to those that they were obligated to serve.  I would not be surprised to learn down the road that they are hired to do the property managing also.....double whammy....make money on the sale, and more money on the property management/maintenance, all at the expense of their existing clients (in the form of decreased property values).  And no, I do not live out that area, just concerned at the lack of disclosure companies and government agencies need to make before making decisions such as this.  THIS is what you should be concerned about....

pattsi wrote on April 10, 2013 at 9:04 pm

There are a number of urban planning issues that have not been addressed in the above posts, save one. The first post points out the lack of connectivity from the west side of the freeway to the east side from every perspective. Second issue will be skewing the geographic distribution of school age population. Right now Unit 4 is wrestling with the location and renovation of the various school buildings serving the district. This will add to the cost and your property tax bill. Third, this development could be done as scattered housing and an infill project. There is plenty of space within the present developed Champaign foot print for the number of units being discussed. Instead again the pattern of least resistence is being applied, aka let us go out and build on another green field and to heck with any consideration of covering up one more acre of the best farm land in the world. Farm land is also economic development. It amazes me how little people in this county mention this when there is a discussion of bringing in another big box that will be build on perimeter farm land without one calculation to figure out if the big box is actually an economic gain over the farm commodities and all of the allied support businesses for farming. Not even the Champaign County Farm Bureau does such a calculation.

SaintClarence27 wrote on April 10, 2013 at 9:04 pm

You may want to google map the area. It's not farmland or green.

pattsi wrote on April 11, 2013 at 10:04 am

Point taken. That said all of the land in this county actually was/is farmland until it gets covered with non permeable surfaces.  :-) So once this housing is building as with the housing already west of the freeway, more and more land is being covered. An interesting factoid is that the best of the best drummer flanagan soils at the highest percentage were covered by our founders when it was determined where Urbana would be and then the development of west Urbana. Yup, everytime you walk or drive through each of these two communities think drummer flanagan soils.  :-)  We really need to start thinking about where development occurs related to the quality of the soils, connectivity, transportations, and inefficient land use.

SaintClarence27 wrote on April 11, 2013 at 11:04 am

I absolutely agree with this - just that the project currently being discussed is infill. I would also happily see more park space in C-U.


My common sense is tingling. wrote on April 13, 2013 at 10:04 am
Profile Picture

I agree. Sad that it doesn't make money for anyone, so it will probably never happen.

aantulov wrote on April 10, 2013 at 9:04 pm

The department of urban development- the housing authority has been making poor choices for years. This needs to be at the top of the chopping block on the federal, state and local level.

The News Gazette should give precise instruction how the public can take control from this branch of government that has powers only the IRS used to wield.

Affordable housing needs to place near jobs, & vocational schools not subdivisions at the edge of town near neither.

This housing market is glutted, interest rates are at 2.5%, one would have to have no credit or savings not to buy a home in this market. Now is clearly not the time to subsidize brand new homes, unless the goal is to give to particular people (cronies, cousins, connected?) a middle class address that was not saved and sacrificed for, diminishing the efforts of others.

Clearly this project is less important that addressing these funds for housing to those who have good credit but no down payment, or those who are homeless or in danger of becoming so because they are terrorized out of accepting public housing.

Public housing funds should be used to put people where jobs are as incentives to industry instead of hotels getting 30 year tax free status that drain public schools. The cities should take an active stance against this proposal.





esotiro2 wrote on April 10, 2013 at 10:04 pm

My husband and I are searching for a home, and we loved this area. Now we absolutely won't buy a home in Turnberry Ridge. Call it whatever you will, but we don't want to live in that kind of area. We lived in areas like that out of college, and we've worked so hard to get away from the noise and the crime. We can be politically correct all we want, but if you want to know the hard truth, it's that section 8 neighborhoods are higher in crime. Kid yourself all you want about making it a better place and equal access to everyone, but you know that's not true. Spreading out poverty doesn't decrease poverty, it just spreads it. WHY would you want to do that??

SaintClarence27 wrote on April 11, 2013 at 10:04 pm

Yes! We should totally segregate the program! Why, we could even fence off the poor areas and call them ghettos! Then we could just ignore them and pretend they don't exist! And then I can feel totally justified in never donating to charity and ranting against 'entitlements' for the poor. And then when people starve I won't have to see it! It won't matter to me, of course, because my property value will be high.

Seriously, no one should be separated from society's problems. It will do you good to see how the rest of us live again.

I'm from this town, and I love it dearly, but the backwards attitudes sometimes make me sick.

asparagus wrote on April 13, 2013 at 5:04 am

Think about what  you are saying and then carry it logically through. If the state mandates the non-segregation of the program, fine.  Trample on the wealthier people's freedoms.  But then the state should also mandate that drug users, people that are idle and not working, be put to work, forced to get treatment etc... against their will. Trample on the poor peoples freedoms. 

This is not a road we want to go down.

The only people then that will be largely "free" will be those highly placed within the states's power structure, and you will find them living in gated communities with armed guards far from crime.


SaintClarence27 wrote on April 13, 2013 at 6:04 am

I don't think what you are saying logically follows. Nobody is infringing on anyone else's property. The zoning wasn't even changed - it was already zoned for multifamily housing. The outcry here is (other than the lack of notice issues, which I agree with) that a few poor (minority) people will be moving into a neighborhood that was previously segregated.

That's not trampling on anyone's freedoms.

asparagus wrote on April 13, 2013 at 8:04 am

"The project, which is to be built on 12 acres on Cobblefield Road west of Interstate 57, is sponsored by the Housing Authority of Champaign County."

The HACC is a govt sponsored entity. It's commissioners are appointed by local govt.  If the people that live near this proposed project were not given proper notification such that this is a "done deal" then this amounts to the "state" trampling their freedoms as I described.



SaintClarence27 wrote on April 13, 2013 at 9:04 am

But wasn't the association notified? So it really wouldn't be the state, then, would it? And that's aside from the questions about what freedoms were actually infringed. You don't have a 'right' to live far away from poor people. While I do have public input questions, just because you have money doesn't mean HUD can't buy property already zoned for multifamily housing near you.

asparagus wrote on April 13, 2013 at 10:04 am

You should reasonably have the right to collectively have a say in how your immediate environment is being changed. All I'm saying is that if that "idea" is being vioated here then that would constitute an infringement on certain rights. Yes you can largely have the right to live away from poor people. You should also have the right to protect your property values within limits. Although research has shown that left to everyone's personal preferences segregation is not an emergent phenomenon.

Perhaps instead of right I should be saying freedom.


EHL wrote on April 13, 2013 at 2:04 pm

No the association was not notified.  

And to clarify again, this is Section 8 housing.  10% of the 160 units will be set to market rate for unsubsidized tenants.  The rest will be subsized for tenants making anywhere between 0-60% of local median income, and my understanding is that this will include acceptance of section 8 vouchers.  

SaintClarence27 wrote on April 13, 2013 at 11:04 pm

The condo association directly next to the area was, afaik.

PsG wrote on April 14, 2013 at 9:04 am

The HOA of the condos directly next door was not notified. Individuals owners were not notified.  I am an owner and live less than 50 feet from the property line of proposed development.  Unless you live here, you do not know the facts of what we were told, or not told. Perhaps you are thinking of the property management agency that received notice and did not pass it on to its residents. for thought.

SaintClarence27 wrote on April 14, 2013 at 9:04 am

Yes, the property management agency. Is it Regency?

PsG wrote on April 14, 2013 at 1:04 pm

Ramshaw.  They also own the land being sold for the development...need I say more? They didn't want us to know, ya think?

SaintClarence27 wrote on April 14, 2013 at 1:04 pm

I'm sure they didn't. That said, even if you knew, I doubt there was much anyone could have done about it. 

dls221 wrote on April 16, 2013 at 2:04 pm

The association was not notified.  The city generated a list of less than 20 PIN numbers within 250 ft of the site.  Somehow Jerry Ramshaw was notified 3 times as his name was associated with the PIN numbers for the 3 common areas of the development.  Yet none of the owners who own condos at Cobblefield were notified.  One of the condo buildings is actually inbetween the common area listed for Jerry Ramshaw and the property line of the proposed development so there is no conceivable way that this building is not within 250 ft.

When the HACC was asked for an explanation they said that they didn't check that the list (generated by the city) was "accurate or all-encompassing" and that they "regret notifying anyone."  I acknowledge that there is a possibility that a list could be innacurate, however notifying someone who does not atually reside on the property 3 times while not notifying the actual resident owners does not seem like a simple oversight.

Furthermore, much has been discussed on this board about how the management of mixed-income properties by HUD is a contributing factor to success with these developments.  Given the way in which this project has been handled thus far, continuing in this same manner is ulikely to result in a sucessful well-managed development.

ROB McCOLLEY wrote on April 13, 2013 at 1:04 pm
Profile Picture

Clarence, that's the purest ideology I've read in quite some time. All normatives, no data.

"Seriously, no one should be separated from society's problems."

For your sake, I hope your surgeon (pilot, etc.) got a good night's sleep, because it could save your life. 

SaintClarence27 wrote on April 13, 2013 at 11:04 pm

Why is data necessary in this argument? It's inherently an argument of normatives and a reasonable one at that. I'm glad you think rich people should be able to buy their way into a segregated community. Wait, scratch that. Rich people should have SO MUCH POWER that the government is not even allowed to purchase land NEAR the rich people, if poor people might be involved. Right.

ROB McCOLLEY wrote on April 14, 2013 at 11:04 pm
Profile Picture



Good government policy contemplates human behavior. That's actual human behavior, not your dreamy idealism.

Really Clarence, I'm starting to think your're the Alan Colmes plant — here simply to make The Right look reasonable. 

SaintClarence27 wrote on April 15, 2013 at 7:04 am

I am contemplating human behavior. I'm also contemplating the behavior of those who own houses and think that poor people living anywhere near them is scary. Good government should contemplate that behavior too. And as with integration, I don't think class integration here is necessarily a bad thing.

And again, I fail to see how they have standing to do anything about it. The land is bought. It was on the open market. Outside of an HOA, you don't have control of your neighbors and who they are - you just don't. I guess part of it is I don't feel sorry for people who are scared of poor people. It's a little ridiculous. Even if this is 90% section 8, as some have claimed, that's 145 units. SE Urbana was more like 700. Of course it will require diligent management (which SE Urbana didn't have), but it can certainly be done.

dd1961 wrote on April 15, 2013 at 3:04 pm

People are not afraid of poor people.  That IS ridiculous.  I have no idea what my neighbors make, and we live in a very mixed income neighborhood with rentals and houses that are owned.  The rentals next door to me do drive the price of my house down, but the landlord has always rented to good people and I have been there for over 20 years.

People are afraid of the gang violence that has permeated neighborhoods all over this country.  You can deny it all you want, but that violence seems to follow when a neighborhood starts leasing to section 8.  You are correct in assessing that the volume here is not as great as SW Urbana, but that is what people fear.  Not what income someone makes.

SW Urbana used to be very nice.  Can you explain how it got so bad without placing some blame on Section 8?

I thought the article talking about the Memphis study was very interesting and telling.

SaintClarence27 wrote on April 15, 2013 at 3:04 pm

I think one of the important parts is understanding that there's a critical mass. Not many people would think that one Section 8 family is a threat. Same with two. And I doubt that the 145 units that are fairly isolated will equate to a critical mass causing neighborhood destruction as well - though I understand that some people say it is. What is the actual critical mass? I'm not sure, but I would bet that it's not an absolute number; rather, it's going to depend on the monitoring, services, and screening processes available and utilized. SE Urbana did a terrible job with all three, resulting in reaching a critical mass with a relatively low number of people. I don't expect the same thing here. I'm certainly hoping for better landlords, for instance - more of the Oakwood Trace (4th and Bradley) model than SE Urbana.

As far as the fear of poor people, it exists. While not everyone who has commented on here participates in that, there have been comments talking about liquor stores cropping up and other stereotypes.

ROB McCOLLEY wrote on April 16, 2013 at 12:04 am
Profile Picture

So the ongoing theme, Clarence, is what you believe, and what you think.


And yes, see Yocal's comment (April 12, 2013 at 8:04 am) about the havoc a single bad property can wreak on a neighborhood. 


As Sam Harris pointed out, one knife-wielding madman could kill an entire city of pacifists, because they won't fight back.

SaintClarence27 wrote on April 16, 2013 at 8:04 am

What about what I said do you disagree with? Is it that one family that is Section 8 will destroy a neighborhood? If you're going to post, you might as well make an actual point that can be debated and discussed, rather than non-sequiturs.

barfish11 wrote on April 11, 2013 at 2:04 am


danrice56 wrote on April 11, 2013 at 2:04 am

So many thought occur to me after reading this article and the comments. Here are a few:


Welcoming the opportunity to house low income residents doesn't make you politically correct. It makes you human.


There are two sides to this argument: those who say they have worked hard and have a right to live where they want, surrounded by their own kind, and those who say they are elitist snobs for feeling that way. There are good points in both arguments. People do have a right to live where they want, without having to gaze out their window and see housing for lower income people, and those people who feel that way ARE elitist snobs.


Let's see some statistics backing up your argument that low income housing increases crime in the area it comes to, not a few scattered personal anecdotes from your college days. Or would facts get in the way of your thinly veiled racist view point?


George Carlin was right. NIMBY is alive and well in this country, and what people usually don't want in their backyard is anything that will benefit someone who isn'y them.


I wonder how quickly, especially in this uncertain economy, those who are opposed to low income housing being built (and let's cut the bull about they don't mind  it, just not near them) if they lost the job that got them their fancy house, would change their minds about such housing?


Turnberry Ridge, and Cherry Hills and Trails of Britanny, is not housing for the wealthy. It is housing for the wealthy wanna bes. Pre frab crap on postage stamp sized lots. University Avenue near Prospect, there's wealthy housing. Devonshire, Green Croft, Yankee Ridge, (which has buses going right through the middle, heaven help us!), Pennsylavia Avenue in Urbana..THOSE are well built, palatial homes occupied by the truly wealthy, not someone who has to work 80 hours a week just to make the mortgage payments on their claptrap Mc Mansion.

Think of all the great people, many of them rich beyond any of those in Turnberry Ridge's wildest dreams, who came from low income housing. The next JK Rowling or Oprah Winfrey (God forbid, an African-American!!!) could be one of the children of one of the families who live in this proposed development. What nightmares that would cause in the minds of those who live in Turnberry and other such developments, who think making around six figures between two people qualifies them as "wealthy".



ROB McCOLLEY wrote on April 13, 2013 at 1:04 pm
Profile Picture

...speaking of claptrap.


Yes, the back half of your post provides evidence that you know about pleasant enclaves in town. I agree with  you.


The first half is all ideological. And yet you ask for data? Weird.

aantulov wrote on April 11, 2013 at 6:04 am

This is poor planning.  Being next Parkland or a major employer is what people who are struggling need.  This choice reflects something other that helping families get into the housing market. There are no shortage of homes empty in this town. If their were then renting more than two single family homes could be outlawed and produce a glut overnight. This is about large home being devalued, and cheap homes being overvalued and the profit some abusing goverment regualtions, can make.

The university would do well by its lower level employees who recently struck, to eminant domain property north of university and put in employee condos, that would help the many people sweeping the floors and clean dishes and unloading trucks more than .11cents more an hour.  They should put affordable condos next to Parkland College for families attempting to work and attend full time.  But this makes no sense except for those using government to lower property values to make a killing in the market and get cronies into homes to be sold for more in a short time.

Does anyone remember the housing authority director that used his own company to tear down perfectly good homes, that gave people free utilities to replace them with less homes that do not provide free utilities.  

This is not about rich versus poor, this is about abuse, and poor choices for poor people at the tax payers expense.

The residents of these subdivions need to hire a lawyer collectively and get this branch of government accountible to those who need its services and those who foot the bills.

SKS3777 wrote on April 11, 2013 at 11:04 am

Here's what I have to say about the comments:  I understand that you want to enjoy the "upper crust" atmosphere of your high priced housing, but for one of the writers to comment that rapes are now going to occur because of this housing project is just about the most ridiculous thing I've heard!  Rape knows no boundaries.  It is a crime that occurs in all socio-economic groups.  Just because some lower income people move in next door doesn't mean you are going to get raped, for Pete's sake.  Your arguments that may have merit disappear with such crap statements.  As for the people who will enjoy living in a decent neighborhood with this new housing, congratulations for not being relegated to living in "slum" areas.  How nice!

ajbuckle wrote on April 11, 2013 at 3:04 pm

That's a nice idea, but wishful thinking.


I grew up in Urbana, near Yankee Ridge school.  Used to be a nice middle class neighborhood.  Occasional teen vandalism over at the school was about as bad as anything got until idealists like you started passing out housing vouchers.  Yes, since then there was a rape on my street.  Yes committed by one of the new residents.  He went to jail.   A shooting too.  The victim, a new resident, lived.  The shooter was not caught.


Here is a good description of the crime wave that followed our tax dollars being spent bring people into our neighborhoods.  Your peace loving and serene (just down on their luck) people:


So, take your uninformed, condescending, attitude, and stick it with your money.  Go buy a house in Turnberry Ridge.  You'll be able to get a nice low priced house there now.

SaintClarence27 wrote on April 11, 2013 at 10:04 pm

No crime ever happened in the 40s! Then integration and it was all downhill from there!!!

ajbuckle wrote on April 11, 2013 at 11:04 pm

The racial integration of the schools during the civil rights era is not relevant to this issue.  This is simple economic redistribution.  It just happens to have the side effect of geographically placing high concentrations of crime into the neighborhoods that it infects.


The cruelty is that it is done long after the rest of the neighborhood has bought in and invested there.  And with no input from the neighborhood most severly affected

SaintClarence27 wrote on April 12, 2013 at 7:04 am

I mentioned integration (as far as neighborhoods - think FHA, not schools) because that's really what people are afraid of. It is relevant to the issue.

There's no cruelty here - for one thing, mixed income housing is not the same as a "housing project" that is traditionally pictured. 

I do have issues with the way it was proposed - explicitly mentioned that they were considering sites in January with no mention of which sites, and absolutely no public input at all before it was apparently decided. In the meantime, Ed Bland sells his house in Turnberry (as far as I was told). That said, I don't think it's the atom bomb that people are making it out to be.

ajbuckle wrote on April 12, 2013 at 8:04 am

You don't think?  Something that you have no experience with, and have no facts to support. You just have a gut feeling.  Common sense and facts be damned, everything will be fine!


I suspect that you are not so cavalier with your own family and money as you are with other people's lives.

SaintClarence27 wrote on April 12, 2013 at 8:04 am

I do have experience with it actually, thanks.

And claiming that there is a danger to other people's lives (or implying it at the very least) is simply more fearmongering. Jesus, they're people, not animals.

DD wrote on April 11, 2013 at 2:04 pm

We moved to this neighborhood thinking it was a safe place to raise two small children.  There is a nice neighborhood park close to our home.  Now I am worried that the park won't be a safe place for the kids to play, with a possible influx of drug deals and related shootings.  I don't think the kids will be able to ride their bikes around the neighborhood without me worrying about them.  I am also concerned about my home and vehicle being burglarized.  Am I wrong to be worried about an increase in crime?  I hope so, but what has happened to the crime rate in SE Urbana is not a promising example.  This site has already been claimed by the Latin Kings gang, with 3 red three-pointed crowns tagged on concrete where this will be built.  I went to the site and saw the crowns myself.  I have seen multiple police cars patrolling the neighborhood in the past few days, getting to know their future permanent post.  We have never seen or needed police patrols in the past.  I can't believe the future of this neighborhood now will likely be marred by gang violence.

I agree with all the comments not understanding why this site was chosen, as it is miles from schools, jobs, food, businesses. 

The way this deal went down is really icky and sneaky.  The Ramshaw company and the housing authority tried to keep this secret until it was all done, so Ramshaw could make many millions off this deal without anyone trying to stop them. 

SaintClarence27 wrote on April 11, 2013 at 2:04 pm

I agree with your last two paragraphs, but your first is WAY over the top. Mixed income housing is not what you are picturing it to be.

DD wrote on April 11, 2013 at 2:04 pm

I hope you are right.  What do you make of the rise in crime in SE Urbana?  The fact that a person/people are already spray paiting gang signs before this is even built is troubling.

SaintClarence27 wrote on April 11, 2013 at 6:04 pm

I think that Urbana isn't as mixed as this. I lived in mixed income housing done properly for 5 years, and never had a problem. The neighborhood outside our complex was much worse than inside the complex, actually. I think people are still comparing mixed income with straight public housing - they're not the same thing. Even a 50/50 split or higher of section 8 vouchers is different than what has gone on in SE Urbana.

Overall, I think it's a bad idea to separate the classes - it only breeds more animosity. As for the gang signs, I really have no idea.

ajbuckle wrote on April 12, 2013 at 8:04 am

"Mixed income housing is not what you are picturing it to be."


Some of us are not dreaming up what this would be like, growing.  We have lived it, and we know the truth.  Your uninformed musings sound nice, and I'm sure you feel good thinking that eerything is going to be perfect.  But, it is just not true.  You don't know what you are talking about, and you have no basis for your feeling of the truth.

SaintClarence27 wrote on April 12, 2013 at 8:04 am

When have you dealt with mixed income housing? I have dealt with it. I like how you just declare that mixed income housing is equivalent to neighborhood destruction, and then assume everyone that disagrees has no experience with the subject. You, sir, are the one who is uninformed.

Also, your first sentence makes no sense, so I am confused.

Loren Anderson wrote on April 11, 2013 at 4:04 pm
Profile Picture

I heard that the name of this subsidized housing subdivision will be "Palazzo di Pollo", which is Italian for Chicken Palace, and they will allow residents to have chickens!

Marti Wilkinson wrote on April 12, 2013 at 1:04 am

About the only thing that city council can do is require landlords to accept Section 8 as a form of income. That particular requirement was abolished because landlords expressed issues with the amount of paperwork, and other concerns involved.

It's unfortunate that we are home to a university that offers degrees in Urban Planning, and that the educators are familiar with urban revival models that don't result in displacing residents (tearing down public housing), or developing mixed housing models which creates concerns for neighboring subdivisions. I'm not familiar with all that the department does, but I feel that it is a resource that the city and housing authority has overlooked.

People who are struggling financially need to have access to jobs, groceries, and public transportation. It's perfectly reasonable to ask if the proposed housing will be able to provide residents with these services. Plus, shifting low income households from one location to another will not address the underlying issues caused by poverty.

Personally, I think we need to end the war on drugs, and do a more effective job declaring war on poverty.

danrice56 wrote on April 12, 2013 at 2:04 am



Please ajbuckle, as well as all others, note the section deconstructing the myth that subsidized housing causes an increase in crime.



I would be interested in seeing more than anecdotes and presumptions in all these arguments stating section 8 housing is guaranteed to bring an increase in crime to the area. Like, I don't know, actual facts? Or is  that too much to ask? yeah, probably.

ajbuckle wrote on April 12, 2013 at 8:04 am

The webpage you cite above is written specifically to advocate for Section 8, by Housing Virginia.  Furthermore, it makes claims with ZERO substantiation.  Lack of facts indeed.


This, however, is written by an actual journalist and was actually published, and contains actual truth:



SaintClarence27 wrote on April 12, 2013 at 9:04 am

That article, while a good one, is about section 8 vouchers, not mixed-income housing.

Marti Wilkinson wrote on April 12, 2013 at 12:04 pm

As a resident of Garden Hills I'm not that far away from the location of the location of the former Joanne Dorsey homes, and I was opposed to it's being demolished. This is because I was concerned that displacing the residents would keep them away from the bus lines in this area that do provide a stable source of transportation. Plus, the people living there were not given a sufficient amount of time to find new places to live, and it's a challege to find landlords who will accept Section 8 vouchers. As a homeowner I don't have a problem living in a neighborhood that has a mixture of income levels, and other things. I do have to ask, how can we address problems of poverty by shifting poor people from one location to another?

The subdivision of Garden Hills is located near the Illinois Worknet Center, which offered free computer classes and training at one point. Not to mention access to Parkland College, which also offers opportunities to build job skills and education. I don't see this being the case with the proposed housing development. If my mindset was along the lines of NIMBY, then I would not have purchased my home in Garden Hills.

That being said I do believe my neighborhood is more heavily policed than other parts of town. Yet, there seems to be a lot of stupid stuff that gets written up like spitting on the sidewalk, or walking the wrong way down the street. My own personal opinion is that this is neighborhood profiling at work. Someone who did some research a couple of years ago found that most METCAD calls came from campus. It would be interesting to see what current data reveals.

I also noted that we do have access to resources that can be offered by the university. I would like to see both the city, and housing authority look at research and models of urban revitalization, that doesn't involve displacing residents.


SaintClarence27 wrote on April 12, 2013 at 12:04 pm

When all of the poor people are concentrated into areas and buildings that are falling apart, it is necessary to displace residents. All this new project is doing is providing housing for people. What people don't like is the location. There are several reasons for this, and I'll address each here:

1) The deal was done in a backhanded way - I agree with this. There are definite concerns when there was no public notification prior to the deal being done.

2) Access to services - the MTD changes routes regularly. Ashland park wasn't available, and then it was. I expect similar results by our world-class bus system in this case.

3) Traffic congestion - I thought that they needed access to bussing? In any case, this many apartments won't necessarily create a huge traffic backlog. I do agree with some of the bicycling under the 57 overpass concerns, however, although I'm sure that can be addressed.

4) Crime - studies have shown that mixed income housing, when provided with supports, does not increase crime in the surrounding areas. And even if it did, what should we do? Continue to concentrate the poorest among us in ghettos with lesser services, breeding hate and resentment, and only perpetuating the cycle of poverty?

5) Comparisons to SE Urbana - This is not the same thing, both in style and in scope. We're talking about one complex of mixed income housing versus several complexes, including terribly run ones. A lot of the comments here have been thinly veiled racism, as well. Get used to it, people. You're going to have to learn to live with all socioeconomic classes if you live in a growing city. Them's the breaks. If you don't like it, you can certainly move to a rural area with no neighbors. See ya later.

SaintClarence27 wrote on April 12, 2013 at 7:04 am

Marti, please explain what urban revival models don't include tearing down public housing that has outlived its safe lifespan or developing mixed housing models. Other than concentration camps, I'm not aware of any. Mixed income housing is FINE. 

I do think it's reasonable to ask if the location will be able to provide residents with the services mentioned. I think as long as bus service is extended there (and it will be), there really won't be a problem.

As far as moving them, the point of mixed income housing is to avoid the extreme concentrations of poverty which create extraordinarily depressed neighborhoods - you know, the ones that everyone is familiar with in C-U.



Marti Wilkinson wrote on April 12, 2013 at 3:04 pm

It's not an area that is something I'm very familiar with. In some of my volunteer work I have interacted with people who are in the Urban Planning department, and I posed the question of if Urban Renewals projects could be handled in a way that did not displace residents, or recreate conditions of squalor. I was told that there are ways this can be done. However, I can't provide the details simply because I did not study it any further at the time. This is why I suggested that both the city and housing authority look into tapping into resources at the university.

I don't have a problem with having neighbors who hold Section 8 vouchers, or having mixed income units being developed at the former site of the Joanne Dorsey homes. I'm just not convinced that housing authority is acting within the best interests of the residents who living at the level of poverty.

asparagus wrote on April 13, 2013 at 6:04 am

Right. People are free to be as poor as they want to be, BUT, they should also have equality of opportunity to improve their lot. If they are physically or mentally unable to act on such opportunities then the state and private charity should step in to help.

Forcing equality of outcomes does not solve poverty and it kills freedom and proseprity. Individuals need to become "better" of their own free will.

Having said all of that, there is a role for the state and all of us to play to make sure that equality of opportunity does exist for the poorest among us. A helping hand never hurt. That is IMO a much better way to fight a war on poverty.

The war on drugs (treating the drug problem as criminal activity) is mostly a waste of resources and only exacerbates the negative issues of the poor by punishing those involved with drugs instead of helping them (even though drug use is far from just a problem of the "poor").




Yocal wrote on April 12, 2013 at 8:04 am

I owned a home and the house across the street became a section 8 house. The family moved down from Chicago. They came and went at all hours of the night, usually with the bass bumpin'. They were constantly arguing in the front yard. They had garbage/trash all over the yard and our yards. Basically, they had no respect for their neighbors. Finally, one night there was a shooting when the female resident caught the male resident in bed with another woman. We put the house on the market and luckily it sold. Our once quiet, peaceful neighborhood was turned upside down by ONE section 8 house on the block. I feel bad for the people of Turnberry Ridge. They have worked hard to purchase property away from the poorer areas in town. It's not racist to want to live in a safe, clean, friendly neighborhood, it's the American dream.

ajbuckle wrote on April 12, 2013 at 8:04 am

But, so many posters have claimed that there is no link between Section 8 and crime?  You must be racist!

Yocal wrote on April 12, 2013 at 8:04 am

Oh, forgot to mention that my next door neighbors and the house across the street were owned by hard working black families and they weren't happy about the section 8 home either. So, nope.

SaintClarence27 wrote on April 12, 2013 at 9:04 am

Yes, ONE instance should automatically be used to judge a system as a whole! 

Speakerman11 wrote on April 12, 2013 at 11:04 am

Have you had your head buried in the sand Saint?  Does the episodes in SE Urbana the past 5 years strike accord with you?  You must be moving FORWARD! or ON VACATION when the shots ring out in Garden Hills. 

There is far more than just one instance to support the agrument that section eight housing is a breeding ground problems.  The residents of Turnberry, Glenshire, Lincolnshire, Trails, Ironwood, Copper Ridge, Sawgrass etc. dont deserve to fall victim to this malarkey. 

I have absolute confidence the residents of those areas listed will take necessary means to protect thier neighborhoods, children, homes and possessions that they show up to work for everyday to earn, and not be handed.

SaintClarence27 wrote on April 12, 2013 at 12:04 pm

Again, there is a huge difference between this project and SE Urbana.

Speakerman11 wrote on April 12, 2013 at 2:04 pm

That remains to be seen.

SaintClarence27 wrote on April 12, 2013 at 3:04 pm

No, it's pretty obviously different unless you're willfully ignorant. Housing complexes in SE Urbana:

Florida House - 120 of 120 units are set for low income

Rainbow Apartments - 71 of 72 units are set for low income.

Sunnycrest Manor - 101 of 101

Prairie Green - 126 of 150

Crystal View - 63 of 70

In Urbana, it's 481 units out of 513 set for low income. In this case, it's 160 units TOTAL, which is MIXED INCOME IN AND OF ITSELF.


It's just not comparable.

Speakerman11 wrote on April 12, 2013 at 3:04 pm

Time will tell slick meat.