I was disappointed in Jim McElhatton’s story on the Department of Housing and Urban Development grant for the continued building of Park Boulevard, the beautiful new mixed-income community that now stands on the site of the former Stateway Gardens - a massive housing development that more than a decade ago was declared “an inhabitable blight” (“Obama sought HUD grant for donor’s project,” Page 1, Oct. 6).
Despite providing the reporter with facts and backup documentation to the contrary, he chose to portray the $20 million HUD grant as some sort of inside deal. The facts, once again:
• Stateway was the recipient of the $20 million from the Republican-led Department of Housing and Urban Development as a result of a competitive process - the same one used by HUD every year - and was one of six developments out of 24 applicants chosen to receive funding on the merits of the development.
•Sen. Barack Obama’s letter and the ones from Sen. Richard Durbin and Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley are standard. Every project submitted for HUD consideration is accompanied by letters of support from the area’s elected officials - confirmation that it is not just the agency, but also the area’s leadership that thinks the project is important.
•The HUD grant did not change the development’s budget, nor did it benefit any private developers. The budget had been set long ago, and the grant from HUD simply allowed Chicago Housing Authority funds, dedicated to Park Boulevard, to be moved to one of the 20 other developments now being replaced and renovated as part of the city’s Plan for Transformation.
Park Boulevard is working well, attracting buyers and renters to this beautiful mixed-income community where former CHA residents, renters and market-rate home buyers today live. The development has been an important boon to the neighborhood and the city - that is why it has earned and garnered support from every sector.
While a good story is always desirable, when it conflicts with the facts, the facts should win. If democracy is about anything, it is about assuring an informed public. For those wishing to be informed, please visit our Web site at www.thecha.org.
WILLIAM F. LITTLE
Executive vice president
Chicago Housing Authority