We are all Grove Parc tenants now [Reader Post]


History repeats itself. This story has many echoes that resonate through the country today. Barack Obama has done for the United States what he did for Grove Parc. The more things hope and change, the more they stay the same.

CHICAGO – The squat brick buildings of Grove Parc Plaza, in a dense neighborhood that Barack Obama represented for eight years as a state senator, hold 504 apartments subsidized by the federal government for people who can’t afford to live anywhere else.

But it’s not safe to live here.

About 99 of the units are vacant, many rendered uninhabitable by unfixed problems, such as collapsed roofs and fire damage. Mice scamper through the halls. Battered mailboxes hang open. Sewage backs up into kitchen sinks. In 2006, federal inspectors graded the condition of the complex an 11 on a 100-point scale – a score so bad the buildings now face demolition.

Grove Parc has become a symbol for some in Chicago of the broader failures of giving public subsidies to private companies to build and manage affordable housing – an approach strongly backed by Obama as the best replacement for public housing.

As a state senator, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee coauthored an Illinois law creating a new pool of tax credits for developers. As a US senator, he pressed for increased federal subsidies. And as a presidential candidate, he has campaigned on a promise to create an Affordable Housing Trust Fund that could give developers an estimated $500 million a year.

But a Globe review found that thousands of apartments across Chicago that had been built with local, state, and federal subsidies – including several hundred in Obama’s former district – deteriorated so completely that they were no longer habitable.

Now the parallels begin. Obama allies profit while everyone else suffers. Sound familiar?

Grove Parc and several other prominent failures were developed and managed by Obama’s close friends and political supporters. Those people profited from the subsidies even as many of Obama’s constituents suffered. Tenants lost their homes; surrounding neighborhoods were blighted.

The players of Grove Parc? Valerie Jarrett,

Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to Obama’s presidential campaign and a member of his finance committee. Jarrett is the chief executive of Habitat Co., which managed Grove Parc Plaza from 2001 until this winter and co-managed an even larger subsidized complex in Chicago that was seized by the federal government in 2006, after city inspectors found widespread problems.

Allison Davis

Allison Davis, a major fund-raiser for Obama’s US Senate campaign and a former lead partner at Obama’s former law firm. Davis, a developer, was involved in the creation of Grove Parc and has used government subsidies to rehabilitate more than 1,500 units in Chicago, including a North Side building cited by city inspectors last year after chronic plumbing failures resulted in raw sewage spilling into several apartments.

Tony Rezko

Antoin “Tony” Rezko, perhaps the most important fund-raiser for Obama’s early political campaigns and a friend who helped the Obamas buy a home in 2005. Rezko’s company used subsidies to rehabilitate more than 1,000 apartments, mostly in and around Obama’s district, then refused to manage the units, leaving the buildings to decay to the point where many no longer were habitable.

And they were key to Obama’s political future:

Campaign finance records show that six prominent developers – including Jarrett, Davis, and Rezko – collectively contributed more than $175,000 to Obama’s campaigns over the last decade and raised hundreds of thousands more from other donors. Rezko alone raised at least $200,000, by Obama’s own accounting.

One of those contributors, Cecil Butler, controlled Lawndale Restoration, the largest subsidized complex in Chicago, which was seized by the government in 2006 after city inspectors found more than 1,800 code violations.

They could throw major money at Obama and thus Obama decided to champion their cause:

Shortly after becoming a state senator in 1997, Obama told the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin that his experience working with the development industry had reinforced his belief in subsidizing private developers of affordable housing.
“That’s an example of a smart policy,” the paper quoted Obama as saying. “The developers were thinking in market terms and operating under the rules of the marketplace; but at the same time, we had government supporting and subsidizing those efforts.”

Jarrett takes Grove Parc right into the toilet

Woodlawn Preservation hired a new property manager, Habitat Co. At the time, the company was headed by its founder, Daniel Levin, also a major contributor to Obama’s campaigns. Valerie Jarrett was executive vice president.

Residents say the complex deteriorated under Moorehead’s management and continued to decline after Habitat took over. A maintenance worker at the complex says money often wasn’t even available for steel wool to plug rat holes. But as late as 2003, a routine federal inspection still gave conditions at Grove Parc a score of 82 on a 100-point scale.

When inspectors returned in 2005, they found conditions were significantly worse. Inspectors gave the complex a score of 56 and warned that improvements were necessary. They returned the following year and found things had reached a new low. Grove Parc got a score of 11 and a final warning. Three months later, inspectors found there had been insufficient improvements and moved to seize the complex from Woodlawn Preservation.

Those living there expected Obama to give a damn but learned a lesson

Grove Parc and several other prominent failures were developed and managed by Obama’s close friends and political supporters. Those people profited from the subsidies even as many of Obama’s constituents suffered. Tenants lost their homes; surrounding neighborhoods were blighted.

Some of the residents of Grove Parc say they are angry that Obama did not notice their plight. The development straddles the boundary of Obama’s state Senate district. Many of the tenants have been his constituents for more than a decade.

“No one should have to live like this, and no one did anything about it,” said Cynthia Ashley, who has lived at Grove Parc since 1994.

The campaign did not respond to questions about whether Obama was aware of the problems with buildings in his district during his time as a state senator, nor did it comment on the roles played by people connected to the senator.

And look at what the guy who helped Obama get that fabulous real estate deal got for himself:

One of the largest recipients of the subsidies was Rezmar Corp., founded in 1989 by Tony Rezko, who ran a company that sold snacks at city beaches, and Daniel Mahru, who ran a company that sold ice to Rezko. Neither man had development experience.

Over the next nine years, Rezmar used more than $87 million in government grants, loans, and tax credits to renovate about 1,000 apartments in 30 Chicago buildings. Companies run by the partners also managed many of the buildings, collecting government rent subsidies.

Under Rezko tenants suffered

People who lived in some of the Rezmar buildings say trash was not picked up and maintenance problems were ignored. Roofs leaked, windows whistled, insects moved in.

“In the winter I can feel the cold air coming through the walls and the sockets,” said Anthony Frizzell, 57, who has lived for almost two decades in a Rezmar building on South Greenwood Avenue. “They didn’t insulate it or nothing.”

Sharee Jones, who lives in another former Rezko building one block away, said her apartment was rat-infested for years.

“You could hear them under the floor and in the walls, and they didn’t do nothing about it,” Jones said.

Then Rezko simply walked away

Shortly thereafter, Rezmar switched from subsidized housing to high-end development, fueled by the money it had made in subsidized work. Rezko’s companies also stopped managing the subsidized complexes.

Obama claimed not to know what was going on with these properties but he sure knew where Rezko was

All the while, Tony Rezko was forging a close friendship with Barack Obama. When Obama opened his campaign for state Senate in 1995, Rezko’s companies gave Obama $2,000 on the first day of fund-raising. Save for a $500 contribution from another lawyer, Obama didn’t raise another penny for six weeks. Rezko had essentially seeded the start of Obama’s political career.

As Obama ascended, Rezko became one of his largest fund-raisers. And in 2005, Rezko and his wife helped the Obamas purchase the house where they now live.

Eleven of Rezmar’s buildings were located in the district represented by Obama, containing 258 apartments. The building without heat in January 1997, the month Obama entered the state Senate, was in his district. So was Jones’s building with rats in the walls and Frizzell’s building that lacked insulation. And a redistricting after the 2000 Census added another 350 Rezmar apartments to the area represented by Obama.

But Obama has contended that he knew nothing about any problems in Rezmar’s buildings.

Did Obama learn anything from this?

Even as Lawndale Restoration and Rezmar’s buildings were foreclosed upon, and Grove Parc and other subsidized developments fell deeper into disrepair, Obama has remained a steadfast supporter of subsidizing private development.

Sure, because that’s where the campaign money was coming from.

And here’s the metaphor for this election:

“I’m not against Barack Obama,” said Willie J.R. Fleming, an organizer with the Coalition to Protect Public Housing and a former public housing resident. “What I am against is some of the people around him.”

Obama met these people, he knows these people and unless he’s stupid he knows what they’re doing.

And he’s not stupid, but those who support Obama are.

And they’ll still like him despite his disastrous choices. It’s no different from today. Obama has made disastrous choices as President, all them for his own political and financial benefit and none for the benefit of the country or for those who actually pay the bills.

Just as he did with Grove Parc. We are all Grove Parc tenants now.

Grove Parc was the blueprint for the Obama Presidency. It’s a shame that no one in the MSM would have a look at it.

And somewhere, George Santayana is smiling.

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A Napalm strike will solve the problem.

when I was about five years old, my father was a plasterer and worked on a housing complex called Cabrini Green. Yes, that Cabrini Green! I remember going with him to work on Saturdays as he was able to pick up overtime when those were built. They were nice solid apartments! and what happened? The same thing that happened to the development above. Entitled low lives that were GIVEN nice habitats that they did not earn destroyed them and turned them into the worst of tenements! So what has changed in over fifty years? NOT A DAMNED THING!
Community organizer?What community. What society? Moron alert. As was with Cabrini Green, nothing has changed! Community organizer my ass! He and the others in that and other communities like it (Atlantic City comes to mind from experience) refuse to address the real problem! That is themselves and the complete lack of of self worth or responsibility by the very people who grab and only want more!


Back in the 70’s, while spending a night on Rush Street, a friend and I (both half in the bag) headed west on Division toward the Kennedy…when he suddenly screams out…”WE’RE IN THE F_ CKING GREEN, GET THE HELL OUTTA HERE”.

Thank God they no longer exist.

@Keyser Söze:
LOL! Boy, I know that feeling well. And yet I remember it with sadness because my father was a proud man and thought he was doing something that was good, not just a job. How wrong he was proven to be.


NO!…he was not proven wrong…just disrespected for his work ethic.

Another thing to consider is just what kind of mentality must you have to continue living in such squalid conditions? Rats under your floors, no heat, no insulation…what do you think of yourself to call a shithole like that, home? Now I’ve lived in some pretty awful places in my time, mostly in my youth, but it was an incentive for me to step up on the ladder. And I would have lived in my car rather than share an apartment with rats.

Yeah, what Jarrett did is disgusting but I still have no sympathy for the residents. It’s what you get when you expect the government to take care of you. Do you think any one of them will apply this lesson to government health care? Don’t hold your breath.

Imagine the left dominated media with their hair on fire if Mitt had done something like this. But now….crickets.



This goes way further back then Obama and his no count ideas. This is as I more or less state above is a problem that has faced any society that has insists on “taking care of” the absolutely worthless irresponsible scum out there who feel they are entitled to be taken care of by those who actually work and earn it. No self respect. No anything other than a take from everyone else mindset. and history has proven time and again people who do not earn something will destroy that something given to them.

What you are seeing is the result of dumb ass policies put forward by Obama’s mentors and heroes! The projects have always been like that and always will be because “leaders” like Obama don’t give a damn about what is right for the people, only their own power. As those of us who earn their way are taxed more to pay for the lazy ass bums who won’t combined with the agenda of polarization of the electorate that Obama and all wanna be dictators use as policy, you will only see more of this blight.

That is cold hard fact! Look at my hometown (Chicago) right now and tell me with everything going on there (hell, a 7 year old girl was shot today selling lemonade) that I am not calling it like it is. There is no community. no responsibility. Only give it to me or I will take it attitudes.


Hey Joe!

I have noticed the Liberals are conspicuously absent from this thread. I am thinking the truth cannot be defended.

It would be great if the loud mouths from this site would move into the neighborhoods you and I know about in Chicago.

How long do you think they would last?

yes the mentality of they owe it to me, I am the type to help when I SEE THE NEED IS THERE, AND I have yet to get a thank you, from different people be it family or friends, it came so often that I began to notice,
and to add to it, I close them all out of my life, and you know what, I am richer since then.

There are two examples of the failure of public housing that is part of St. Louis history. The Pruitt-Igoe Project and the Cochran Apartments. Both were built to provide low/no cost housing to the poor of St. Louis. These were massive projects. Pruitt-Igoe was an absolute disaster from the beginning. Cochran Apartments was also in massive disrepair after just a few years. Both projects saw crime escalate, the halls smelled of urine, drug dealers and prostitutes were always in full view, the buildings destroyed mainly by those who resided in them when the residents would yank out the kitchen and bath fixtures and appliances to sell.

The residents of Cochran Apartments had had enough and through the hard work of one resident, organized a resident’s committee. Residents patrolled their complex and reported the hookers and drug dealers to the St. Louis PD. They required other residents to be responsible for keeping the hallways clean, and would come down hard on anyone who was too lazy to take their trash to the provided dumpster and just leave it in the hallways, causing a rodent and insect problem. Residents were required to help in other ways, such as cutting the grass in common areas, painting hallways that were constantly subject to grafitti, etc. The Cochran Apartments became a national model of how public housing could be maintained and kept safe from crime.

But that was not good enough for the Democrat lead St. Louis City Council who decided that the residents did not have the wisdom to use the funding for the property properly. The City Council abolished the resident committee, and took over the management of the property. Cochran Apartments, built with millions of tax payer dollars, was torn down in 2008 due to massive disrepair.

Because public housing units have been such a failure, and harbingers for crime, in its infinate wisdom, the federal goverment has now tried to go to a system of Section 8 housing where tenents are allowed to rent a home and the taxpayer picks up the tab. These individual homes fare no better than major housing complexes except they serve to drive down the housing values for neighbors. For the most part, the people who live in Section 8 housing are like the teenager who refuses to take care of a car simply because he didn’t have to pay for it, so if it breaks, it’s not his money that has been wasted. When you have nothing invested, you have nothing to lose.

George Clooney will be hosting a fund raiser at Grove parc when Valeria Garrett votes Republican.

This is exactly what I mean when I say “Government Poverty”… this is it!!!!!

In Newark, NJ there was nice high rise ‘housing’ maybe 20 floors about 3 or 4 buildings [they always start out ‘nice’ don’t they??].

As far as I could tell, in passing them while driving to the airport, many had a nice view of the New York Skyline… They were Government issued specifically for ‘low income’ housing. I guess that was back in the 50’s or 60’s… They were demolished several years ago after becoming an dangerous place in too many ways…

Yep, they ‘were’ nice but, if you don’t ‘maintain’ things, and if people don’t ‘help’ with the maintaining…they turn into a unfit to inhabit mess of urine, broken lights, broken elevators, drugs…many of the things that gravitate to the likes of OFraud….

Here is another story of Public housing in Newark, NJ…

Buffalobob @12 – That was great…could you just imagine OMG!!!

Yes, so perhaps you are right – perhaps they SHOULD go visit so they can see how “good intentions” work out….