Plan to raze 70 Park Avenue homes criticized

Wednesday, November 30, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 3:01 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

Residents, including those of Park Avenue public housing, criticized the Columbia Housing Authority on Tuesday for not addressing their concerns regarding the proposed demolition of the 70 Park Avenue homes.

Two of the major criticisms voiced by residents were over the task force’s evaluation of the quality of the homes and that the CHA did not inform the public of meetings.

“I think part of the problem here is the Columbia Housing Authority is not popular with the residents,” said Linda Green, a member of Grass Roots Organizing, a group that opposes the demolition and redevelopment of the Park Avenue homes.

Throughout the planning process, residents have disagreed with the analysis made by consultants hired by the city and the CHA task force.

“I’m not hearing the same things you’re saying about deterioration,” GRO leader Mary Hussmann said. “(The task force) never had anybody come here as an impartial person to evaluate these homes.”

Displacement concerns weren’t put to rest after the task force recommended on Monday that there should be a complete replacement of demolished homes and that replacement homes should remain at income-based rent. There are 443 applicants waiting for public housing and Section 8 homes, according to the CHA waiting list.

“Do you think it would be a worry to the Park Avenue residents given the 443 waiting list?” GRO member Virginia Bzdek asked.

Consultant Jill Lawlor emphasized that the project would not occur unless homes were available for relocation.

“If that doesn’t happen, absolutely nothing can happen,” Lawlor said.

Consultant LaDene Morton reminded residents that the public housing planning process is a slow one.

“I caution you now, be prepared to be in this for the long haul.”

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