PUERTO RICAN AGENDA HOLDS SUCCESSFUL HOUSING SUMMIT AT CHI ARTS HIGH SCHOOL

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Watch Dr. Mindy Thompson Fullilove full speech at La Voz Online http://bit.ly/fullilove (Courtesy of HITN)

On June 15, 2018, the Puerto Rican Agenda through the leadership of Bickerdike Redevelopment Corporation, Hispanic Housing Development Corporation, LUCHA and the Puerto Rican Cultural Center convened its successful “2018 Housing Summit: Strengthening the Puerto Rican and Latino Presence in Chicago” where discussions, crafting a plan of action to counteract gentrification and the creation of new strategies to celebrate, preserve, and strengthen the cultural vibrancies of our neighborhoods were had. The Housing Summit aimed to share plans and a larger vision along with affordable housing advocates, decision-makers, and the community to preserve and strengthen the Puerto Rican/Latino community and other households of color to increase affordable housing options for residents along Chicago’s Near Northwest Side. The morning began with our Executive Director Jose E. Lopez providing a historical context of the struggles and conditions of the Puerto Rican community and beautifully moving us along towards laying out of a vision for the next fifty years as it relates to “Puerto Rico Town” and building an inclusive city where no one is left out. It was this vision of community building and preservation that was the guiding principle throughout the day which guided and inspired the conversation at the summit.

In one of the panels, Joy Aruguete (Chief Executive Officer, Bickerdike), Juan Carlos Linares (Executive Director, LUCHA) and Hipolito Roldán (Executive Director, Hispanic Housing), our Latino housing developers provided a historical account and new challenges to the building of new housing developments in the community. They talked about innovative ways that their organizations are involved in the preservation and building of more affordable housing in the community and what community members can do to ensure that our collective voices are heard in the housing discussions and public policy spaces. We also had Ivis García, Assistant Professor, University of Utah—along with her Architecture, Urban Ecology, City and Metropolitan Planning students from ChicagoLAB—present preliminary findings of a report that provided a compendium of data and analysis about Near Northwestside housing, land use, demographics, and quality of life. And our last panel discussion, we had representatives from La Casa Norte, the Puerto Rican Cultural Center and Norwegian American Hospital to discuss “Healthy Living and Diverse Housing Types” that focused on local examples and principles of communities and neighborhoods can create affordable housing for families, older adults, homeless youth, veterans, students, the LGBTQI, workforce housing for teachers, artist, healthcare professionals, mixed-income, multigenerational, and others.Our keynote speaker Dr. Mindy Thompson Fullilove, a Professor of Urban Policy and Health at The New School, New York City eloquently spoke about displacement, disinvestment, gentrification, and community development in the United States and intricately tied it to the struggles of the Puerto Rican Community of Chicago in its attempts to maintain space and remain relevant in a city where the market forces seek to erase and uproot the very foundations of community.

It was this keynote address by Dr. Mindy Thompson Fullilove that provided a pathway to what was a very rich conversation during our historic townhall meeting with our elected officials. Led by Congressman Luis V. Gutierrez, also present where Representatives Luis Arroyo and Delia Ramirez, Congressman elect Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, Cook County Commissioner Luis Arroyo Jr., State Senator Omar Aquino and Alderman Joe Moreno, Milly Santiago and Roberto Maldonado. During the townhall, our elected officials were able to hear and respond to our housing leaders and community residents about the vision, challenges and opportunities pertaining to affordable housing and how they as our elected leaders can carry the torch in advocating for our community and our greater vision of creating an inclusive “Puerto Rico Town” vision for our community. Our successful Housing Summit attended by over 300 community resident and stakeholders exemplified the power of a united community, socially knitted together by a shared vision of possibilities and the hopes of a people coming together to stake our claim in the northwest side of Chicago and ensure that we remain for the next fifty years and beyond.

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