CHICAGO — A new Chicago Fire training facility on the near West Side faces a legal challenge as community groups are suing in federal court to stop construction.
Community groups are objecting to the use of public land owned by the Chicago Housing Authority for private purposes. Land that was once dedicated to low-income individuals and families living at Chicago’s ABLA homes.
A crowd downtown on Monday chanted: “Whose land? Our land!”
Members of the Chicago Housing Initiative, the Coalition to Protect Public Housing, and other community groups believe the move is an injustice while affordable housing remains in short supply.
“This is our land and it’s being used for private endeavors,” Executive Director of Lugenia Burns Hope Center Rod Wilson said.
Wilson and others discussed why they’ve filed a federal lawsuit against the Chicago Housing Authority and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
“HUD has one mission to make sure CHA does its job,” Don Washington of the Chicago Housing Initiative said.
The complaint, which also names HUD secretary Marcia Fudge, contends the housing agency failed to perform a full civil right review of the soccer facility.
CHA spokespeople reached Monday refusing comment given the newly-filed litigation.
Backers of the proposal, including former Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, broke ground on the 23 acre site back in April, bounded by Roosevelt, 14th street, Ashland and Loomis.
While not commenting on the lawsuit itself, Chicago Fire Football Club spokespeople providing background on the project.
“We’ve received overwhelming support from the local Alderman, Jason Ervin, and residents of the neighborhood,” Jhamie Chin with the Chicago Fire Football Club said.
“The land will remain owned by the city and our lease payments for the land will go toward generating funds for the CHA to invest in their nearby public housing sites.”
Lease payments on the land are also expected to generate over $40 million in 40 years.
Terms of the leasing agreement also calling for the “Fire” to provide an upfront $8 million community investment to be used for rehabilitation and preservation of nearby CHA housing.
No comment has been made by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.