Posted by: union03g | June 23, 2009

Uptown Ground Zero for State Funding Crisis… Home Buyers Beware…

Chicago’s Uptown will be ground zero for the imminent state spending cuts in social services. Closing public aid offices, shutting down psychiatric (and releasing the patients onto the streets of Uptown) and stripping away the critical care people need, will stun the neighborhood. The double effect will be an allergic reaction by first time home buyers. No one will want to move into uptown and property values will subsequently plummet. The social workers who live in the affordable Uptown, and work nearby, will also have no means to pay rent after their jobs are cut. What a disaster for the area – it would set back growth by 10 years. As the Lake Effect News article points out, there are costs to added crime and managing homeless such that the city may not save a dime with these service cuts.

Potential program cuts could include closing six out nine state psychiatric hospitals and one-third of the state’s public aid offices, including the Uptown branch at 2112 W. Lawrence. Proposed program cuts also include eliminating childcare assistance for the working poor, services for the developmentally disabled, ending addition treatment for adolescents and adults, reduced funding for community mental health centers, and closing state schools for the deaf, visually impaired and rehabilitation and education.

Calling the current budget crisis “the worse we’ve seen in our lifetime,” Edwards warned the audience of the potential public safety implications waiting for Illinois residents should the state legislature proceed with its cuts to social services.

“We’re on the precipice of disaster. The situation we’re facing is absolutely horrifying,” Edwards said, an intake worker at the Illinois Department of Human Services’ Family Community Resource Center in Wicker Park. “To close mental institutions and just kick those people out on the street is a horrible way to go, so you can forget about Wicker Park and you can forget about Uptown.”

I don’t mean to get political in this blog, but this could be a seismic shift in what we can expect from health care, neighborhood safety, job and real estate values. Investors looking at this neighborhood might want to wait on the sidelines until the dust settles and predictability is restored. For the greater good of this tumultuous but growing area, let’s hope that these state wide budget cuts will create too much social unrest and they won’t actually happen!

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