Attorneys at Law
312.616.4422 ,v" 312.616.4423 (fax) Office@SBLLeg~l.cOni

155 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 504, Chicago, Illinois 60601

jennifer K..Soule Kelly K. Lambert Of Counsel James G. Bradtke

January 10,2011



Honorable Thomas Weisner City of Aurora Illinois .44 'E. Downer Place Aurora, Illinois 60507

Re: Annual Plan/Jericho Circle Redevelopment Dear Mayor Weisner: The Aurora Housing Authority ("AHA") has received your letter dated December 2~, 2010, stating that, based on your position that any redevelopment of housing at the Aurora Housing Authority's Jericho Circle location (or in general by the AHA) is against the public interest, you will not certify that the AHA's Annual or 5 Year Plans are consistent with the City of Aurora's 5 Year Consolidated Plan. We are counsel to the A~A and we are responding to the various.issuesraised in your letter.


You have requested additional information, including statements from HUD supporting redevelopment of the AHA's Jericho Circle site, -The AHA welcomes the opportunity for dialogue with the City, and encloses the statement from HUD that you have requested. We believe-and have always believed - that additional conversations and exchanges of information will further a better mutual understanding of how best to serve the needs of the economically disadvantaged persons in need of housing in the Aurora area, AHA hopes that both parties can adopt a posture of flexibility and a willingness to find common ground. We remain hopeful-that redevelopment of the Jericho Circle site into a mixed finance, mixed income site, with less density and a substantial reduction of very low income public housing units, can be undertaken in a way that is vibrant and productive for all of the citizens of Aurora.

Based on the information we are providing to you, including information from the City's Januaryl , 2010 - December 31, 2014 Consolidated Plan, and information from the August 2010 American

Honorable Thomas Weisner City of Aurora Illinois January 10,2011 Page 2 Marketing Services Housing Market Analysis, the AHA requests that you reconsider your certifications on behalf of the City of AHA's Anriual Plan, and, when appropriate, its 5 Year Plan. Your reconsideration of the decision is important to ABA, but it is equally important to 'the City. We have attempted to answer each of your assertions in order . . It is the understanding of the AHA that, even though "one-for-one" replacement of public housing is not required by HUD at this point, some appropriate level of replacement affordable housing and redevelopment by AHA is expected by HUD in order to demolish Jericho Circle. 'As it happens, redevelopment of affordable housing is also needed in Aurora and consistent with the AHA's mission. Please refer to the supporting HUD memorandum dated September 7,2010 granting approval of the AHA demolition plan, from Ainars Rodens to Stephen Meiss, attached. The meaning and import ofthat memorandum is that redevelopment consistent with AHA's Annual Plan (which incorporates and refers to its Strategic Plan) is a condition for HUD's approval of the demolition application. Please note in the BUD memo its conditional reference in the third paragraph to what BUD considered (e.g. the AHNs Annual Plan), the statement on page 3 of the condition and expectation of redevelopment by AHA as a mixed finance (mixed income) development, and the concluding approval statement on page 4, referring back to the predicate of the AHA Annual Plan and the listed conditions. This memorandum states that HUD expects that ABA will pursue the rebuilding obligations (with respect to the rebuilding of affordable housing) set forth in its Annual Plan and Strategic Plan and, specifically, the HUD Memorandum embodies a statement (p.3) showing that HUD expects AHA to pursue a mixed finance development as defined by BUD. Mixed finance and mixed income means an affordable housing development that is developed using the current financing mechanisms available in the market place such as, for example, the low income housing tax credit. . As you areaware, ABA provided its Strategic Plan to BUD, various categories of stakeholders, and the City in October of2009, and AHA's Plan included planned redevelopment of the Jericho Circle site. The City certified consistency with the AHA's Annual Plan for 2009, and the AHA's Plan for that year also incorporated redevelopment plans for Jericho Circle. Also, the City adopted its 5 YearConsolidated Plan in January 2010, incorporating the AHA's 5-Year plan, indicating: "Jericho Circle will be rebuilt as a mixed-income neighborhood, with townhomes and rental units." (p; 69). The City's Consolidated Plan confirms that there is a need for affordable housing in Aurora. The demolition plan as' approved by HUD provides further confirmation of this fact. For years, "one-for-one" replacement of public housing was required by Congress. In that case, for every unit of public housing demolished, a new one was required to be constructed. Presently, that level of 100% replacement of public housing is not requited and AHA has not anticipated that concerning Jericho .Circle or any other redevelopment project. Congress imposed a moratorium on

Honorable Thomas Weisner City of Aurora. Illinois "January 10,2011 Page 3 demolition-only applications of public housing in 2008 for certain public housing programs. AHA understands that allowing less than 100% replacement public housing allows for financing opportunities and private-public partnerships, which AHA is pursuing in order to redevelop the site in question. From the jnception of this undertaking, AH'A has been committed to building afforqable housing and not public housing at Jericho Circle and that intent has been well articulated in every public docu,ment that AHA has submitted to the City. There are varying levels of what might be globally termed "affordable housing." Ori many levels, "affordablehousing" is materially unaffordable to the very poor. Therefore, stating that Aurora has some available ."affordable housing" might obscure the fact that adequate housing for low and moderate income people in Aurora remains severely lacking. Even more, the City of Aurora's 2010-2014 Consolidated Plan states that, due to the economic downturn and job losses, a family's "ability to' afford what is defined by HUD as affordable may now be compromised." (p. 49). The City's Plan itself recognizes "Extremely Low Income" (ELI), "Very Low Income" (VLI), "Low Income" (L1) and "Moderate Income" eMI). The City's Consolidated Plan states, "[b]ased on the needs assessment and market analysis, the sum total of ELI, VLI and LI households is 9,314, or 63.1% of all renter households in Aurora. In other words, two out of three renter families in Aurora, including many working families and families with two or more wage e~arners,are eligible for housing assistance." The City's Consolidated Plan (p. 32) states that "41.6% of all renter households in the City have either very-low or extremely-low incomes. This illustrates the severity of the housing problem for renter families." The City's Plan goes on to 'say that "a total of 9,827 households, 01' 39.9% of all owners, fall into one of the income categories, Extremely Low Income (ELI), Very Low Income (VLI), and Moderate Income (MI) households, analyzed in this Plan." (p.30) 23.7% of all renters in Aurora are classified as ELI, according 'to' the City's Plan at p. 31. The plan discusses 5,537 currently overcrowded and substandard units in Aurora(p. 30) and-says that Very-Low Income Renters "still find great difficulty finding decent housing at affordable prices." The City stated that the African-American ELI need "appears to be significantly higher than . its proportion would indicate." A professional study conducted at the AHA's request by American Marketing Services, Inc. in 20 10 concerning housing needs in the Aurora area has demonstrated that Aurora is at least 1,015 units Sh011of the housing needed for its ELI residents alone. (see p. 56). The AMS Study concludes: "AMS' demographic analysis of the Aurora market indicates a substantial and growing need for affordable housing." (p.59) The AMS study, consistent with the City's findings, states, "AMS' demand analysis also shows that the Aurora market is underserved with regard to affordable housing. In fact, both total population and the number of households in need of affordable housing are projected to grow in Aurora." (p. 61) This study was provided by AHA to the City previously. The study's conclusion is that there is a significant need for the continued provision of low income housing in Aurora.

.. ,

Honorable Thomas Weisner City of Aurora Illinois January 10, 2011 Page 4 AHA has approximately 900 households on its public housing waiting list and approximately 750 households on its Housing, Choice, Voucher waiting list. AHA only provides 337 units of non elderly/disabled la-w-income housing right now, as it is. Even with the proposed redevelopment, that number will decrease. At the same time, it really cannot be disputed that the needs of the homeless and economically disadvantaged continue to increase. In fact, Aurora already regretfully lags far behind its comparable Illinois cities in the number of very low income housing units provided: Public Housing Units 652 2005 989 868 _. 717

ILLINOIS CITY Aurora Rockford Joliet' Springfield Peoria

City , Population 172,950 157,280 147,648 118,033 115,520

Perhaps, as you have said, other nearby towns should do more to provide appropriate housing to ail income levels. But we do not agree that Aurora should shirk its responsibilities to its impoverished citizens because other towns are not themselves doing enough for their economically disadvantaged citizens 91' those who might seek low income housing in Aurora. Aurora cannot simply declare at this point that it has done enough to house and feed its poor. Moreover; AHA's mission and obligation is to provide affordable housing in Aurora. You have raised the desire on the part of the City that the AHA try to obtain more housing choice vouchers. There are key differences between the housing choice voucher program and the low income housing program, making both necessary, These are two entirely separate programs, and they do not operate on a relative sliding scale with each other. Without implicating or diminishing its obligations under the public housing program or planned redevelopment plans, AHA has always been open to considering attempting to obtain more housing choice vouchers, as you have suggested, but is hindered by the reality of the federal budget and the federal allocation of housing choice vouchers. HCV is budget based program; vouchers are not allocated= budget is. That budget is allocated based uponregulatory formula, Unfortunately, absent the federal goverrunent providing a Notice of Funding A vailability, AHA's allocation will only'increase (or decrease) in accordance with federal appropriation. In either case, housing choice voucher allocation is totally divorced from AHA's public housing budget.


Honorable Thomas Weisner City of Aurora Illinois Janumy10,2011 Page 5

Your refusal to certify the AHA's Annual Plan will not necessarily block the ABA's redevelopment " plans, though it certainly and undeniably creates severe barriers for Jericho Circle and - potentiallyfor the City. The effect is that the AHA's Capital Funds for the coming year (approximately $1 million) will be blocked as a result of the current actions. The AHA uses Capital funds to make improvements to Its properties - all of its properties. It is counterproductive for the City to cause the AHA to lack sufficient funds to adequately maintain its properties. This negatively, impacts all AHA residents, and the public. There is also another level to these circumstances, which is that, ifthe City coritinues to block AHA's receipt of its customary annual funds now and in the future, the AHA has no choice but to even further reconsider using the funds it has on hand for either the demolition of , . Jericho Circle or the relocation of the residents there. AHA must weigh and balance the interests of all of those it serves.

Likewise, in light of its redevelopment and demolition plans concerning the Jericho Circle site, the AHA decided to forego some larger maintenance and improvement items at that location. Now, in the face of the AHA plans being stalled, and despite knowing that the AHA's long established intent has been, to redevelop Jericho Circle anew, the City has suddenly and very recently commenced inspections of the Jericho Circle site, which, predictably, will reveal various deficiencies. There . could be a negative trend, caused by the City's actions, that could result in worsening conditions not just at Jericho Circle, but overall. More importantly.jsuch actions have a potential of creating legal liability for the City. In addition to the above, the idea that a public' housing complex can be entirely demolished and not replaced with any affordable, low income or public housing units, goes against thy mission of the AHA, industry standards, and fair housing concerns. As was raised to you by now former Board Chair Gerald Jones, the AHA is concerned about attention to and compliance with fair housing obligations and certifications. Those fair housing concerns are shared by the AHA and the City. In this regard, the AHA is concerned that demolition of Jericho Circle without a commitment to appropriately provide a level ofrepl'acement affordable units satisfactory to HUD (and in line with fair housing obligations" generally) could, place the AHA and the City in jeopardy concerning accusations of discrimination as well as accusations of false certifications concerning federal funds . . You might be aware that, during the process of communicating the AHA) s Strategic Plan, AHA's plan to demolish and redevelop Jericho Circle (as well as the other aspects of its Strategic Plan) were .Closely examined and questioned by housing advocates, including the Shriver Center. and Prairie . State"Legal Services. Questions about replacement housing were, naturally - and constantly ~ . raised. Also, the AHA is mindful of case precedent indicating that the AHA, and the City of Aurora, are obligated to consider race when they analyze impediments to fair housing in connection with various certifications made to the federal Government in connection with receipt of federal funds. See e.g., United States of America ex. ret Anti Discrimination Center Of Metro New York, Inc. v . Westchester County, New York, 495 F.Supp. 2d 375,376 (2007),


Honorable Thomas Weisner City of Aurora Illinois January 10,2011 Page 6

The City of Aurora's 2010-2014 Consolidated Plan at p. 56, 87 states that city staff identified "community resistance to affordable housing including Fair housing issues" as "barriers to Affordable housing." The City's Consolidated Plan document states: "In Aurora, as in ntany communities across the Country, the public's misperception of affordable housing can lead to resistance to the development of affordable housing within their community. Included in this would be barriers to fair housing." (p. 58) . As set forth in the market analysis commissioned by the AHA and provided previously to the City last Fall, facts related to these considerations include that, while the African-American population in Aurora overall is approximately 11%, the percentage of low income African-American persons in non elderly/disabled low income AHA housing in Aurora is 75%. Similar analyses should be conducted comparing the locations and proximities of All/vfamily sites within the city to diverse and non-diverse neighboring populations, and, as noted below, the impacts and interrelationships between low income citizens and the various school districts and municipalities. The City'S Cpnsolidated Plan for 2010-2014 states that "African-Americans are disproportionately represented among the homeless and the poor, despite lower absolute numbers. By proportion, the poverty rate for African-Americans was 20%, Hispanics 13%, and whites 16%. This is consistent with national data, showing rates of poverty among blacks are consistently three times higher than whites and 2.5 times more for Hispanics." (p.61). The City's Plan discusses focusing its Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy Area funds toward high need areas within the City. (p. 61). " If the City continues its current posture concerning the idea of redevelopment of Jericho Circle - and "affordable housing generally - in contradiction to each of its previously and publicly acknowledged approvals of the Jericho Circle redevelopment, there is a risk that other federal funding typically allocated by HUD, such as CDBO and HOME, will be delayed or withheld until the City reconsiders its current position. The mission of the AHA is to serve" the needs of the e~tremely economically disadvantaged population in our City. This mission of housing the poor has never been popular. The City stated in its Consolidated Plan that "the City believes that coordinated-and well planned actions in conjunction with other partners are essential to remove barriers and encourage new development of Affordable Housing." AHA shares this view and still wishes to coordinate its redevelopment activities with the City. People could stereotype the poor, and public housing participants, as violent and criminal. These types of stereotypes are inaccurate, uncharitable and impractical - not to mention specious .. Describing anticipated redevelopment as a "public housing project" or "warehousing" is misplaced , and plays upon negative stereotypes. As AHA has informed the City previously, what is anticipated is a private development, backed by private investment; substantially managed by private managers, under a process through which AHA will retain the right to work alongside the private interests. At 'the same time, AHA can do more to provide better housing and safer conditions, which the AHA

Honorable Thomas Weisner City of Aurora Illinois January 10,2011 Page 7 seeks to do. We cannot turn our backs on the poor. The AHA's mission is even more important now, in times 'of overall economic hardship. The AHA recognizes that there is periodic (and sometimes politically motivated) criticism of its low income housing. However, the AHA also has provided substantial information to you that counters broad negative generalizations of its present operations, housing stock and programs. The criticisms of the past do not hold true for the present, and will not hold hue for the future-if AHA is permitted to carry out its mission in the manner it is currently pursuing. The AHA's recent strategic plan should be seen as a proactive, positive step toward increased suitability, accountability and effectiveness'in the AHA's missionfor the public good. . The AHA requests that you meet with AHA as soon as possible, so that an appropriate path of action' can be mapped out. We are aware that a meeting has been requested of the City by HUD for later this month. In turn, the AHA is requesting information the City has concerning the your letter about the concern over financial, impact of the children in AHA's low income housing on a particular school district or municipality. In particular, please include any documents and correspondence . between the City and the West-Aurora School District 129 concerning this issue. If any analysis or study has been conducted or communicated of which the City is aware, please provide that to the AHA as well so that AHA can better understand the concerns that you raise and, further, take them into account in connection with its impact study mentioned above. AHA also requests all studies, analyses, etc., that form the basis for the City's definition of "affordable housing" as used in your December 2010 letter and that supports the statement that 48% of housing in Aurora is "affordable." We want to understand the basis for these conclusions. I Finally, please be advised that the AHA has submitted an initial proposal concerning redeveloping Jericho Circle. While this dialogue is ongoing with the City, AHA will carry on with submissions of this nature. This initial submission is a place holder, for the AHA to be in line for upcoming funding opportunities. As such, one 'Option of what a development might look like under this initial ,application are taking shape at this time, could be an approximation as follows':

1 AHA'sI{)lans

for redevelopment

of the current property and the number of units are not final. .

Honorable Thomas Weisner City of Aurora Illinois . January 10, 2011 Page 8

Proposed Unit Mix and Affordabilitv Levels Jericho Circle Neigbborhoo~ Revitalization
One-Bedroom Two-Bedroom Three Bedroom Uilit Total Percent of Total

30% AMI 40% AMI 50% AMI' Market Totals


. 10



21.33% ,.





5 2 15

12 4 34



34.67% 10.67% 100.00%



As our long held and articulated plan illustrates, this plan for Jericho Circle represents AHA's intent' to significantly decrease density at the development, based on bedroom sizes alone. Additionally, units that would be occupied by persons,at30% of area median income and below (in other words, Section 8 and public housing eligible residents) could be 21%. While this submission is preliminary and there will be ample opportunities to hone.the direction and parameters of the "redevelopment project, AHA would prefer to continue its long established attempts to work with the City on ways to positively shape the redevelopment in a manner that best serves the community, other than facing a blanket "no» and lack of cooperation from the City. AHA hopes to review this initial submission with you.

Honorable Thomas Weisner City of Aurora Illinois January 10, 2011 Page 9

Please let us know if there is any additional information you require. with you in the coming weeks,

We look forward to meeting

Jennifer K'Soule

JKS/sms Enclosure cc: . Jean Federman AHA Board ., Steven Miess, Director, Illinois State Office Of Public Housing, Region V, u.s. Department of Housing and Urban Development AntonioRiley, Region V Administrator, US. Department of Housing and Urban Development Chuck, Nelson, City of Aurora

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