Income doesn't determine 'who needs to improve'

Opinion: Letters To The Editor

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I am amazed by the arrogance expressed by an opponent of the former Comcast building redevelopment project, Demetrios Pappageorge, who stated that people who earn less than $26,300 would have no reason to better themselves if living with similar wage-earners [Oak Park residents sound off on low-income apartments, News, Jan. 26]. Who made Mr. Pappageorge the arbiter of what defines "success?"

In Chicago, professional relief counselors, caregiver companions and artists tend to make less than $26,300, according to a salary trend survey by People who serve our older or disabled population, or who define their aspirations in terms other than income, are by virtue of their salaries in need of self-improvement?

I take more issue with my neighbors who share Mr. Pappageorge's mindset, than residents of the proposed project.

Meredith Morris
Oak Park

Editor's note: Pappageorge said residents would have no reason to better themselves because they would no longer qualify to live in the project if they earned more than $26,300 or if they got married.

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J.G. Morales  

Posted: February 11th, 2011 11:26 PM

@j.oak park - I understand very well, and am in complete disagreement with this project for a number of reasons. Please understand that even though the so-called "penalty" for getting a better job is losing one's LINK card, many people are HAPPY to give it up. A friend of mine was on section 8 when she was just starting out. She HAPPILY accepted a larger income and moved to a better place once her income increased. To question motivation here would be to stereotype.

J.G. Morales  

Posted: February 11th, 2011 11:06 PM

con't - This same question has been asked many times before, with the assumption that low-income people need motivation to give up such wonderful assistance. As if they would rather be "lazy" and get stuff more easily, than do "better" by working harder. As if people would rather be in a housing project than lead a "fuller life". The greater argument doesn't need to be explained, but rather why that question asked. It was not taken out of context.

J.G. Morales  

Posted: February 11th, 2011 10:35 PM

@j.oak Park - The "greater argument" does not change that he actually did ask "What motivation will there be for betterment?" I agree the WJ did a job on him by highlighting this one question. I also agree that it still sounds offensive. I don't doubt that he is a good man with a big heart, but the comment was still questionable.

j.oak park  

Posted: February 11th, 2011 3:26 PM

This project is also seeking the 51 units as a requirement for funding. There are plenty of smaller, 10 unit, low income housing developments, but the developers are seeking a different type of funding that will allow them to build out the property. It all about the funding... which dictates the kind of tenant you can have. Follow the money, find the answers.

j.oak park  

Posted: February 11th, 2011 3:25 PM

jg. The greater contextual argument is that this development is limiting to the residents with a question, not of person but ,of possibility of penalty for economic growth. Please understand this earning limit is so that the developer can conform to regulations for qualification subsidies and loans. In other housing programs you are not disqualified for tenancy because you earn more, you simply have to pay more rent. That is what I believe Pappageorge is saying.

j.oak park  

Posted: February 11th, 2011 3:24 PM

jg, we will have to disagree. the quote is from the second of three points by Mr. Pappageorge. the first discussing the funding and the limitations put on the development because of the type of funding being sought to complete the project .

Patricia O'Shea  

Posted: February 11th, 2011 1:22 PM

I know Demetrios Pappageorge and he is a caring compassionate man truly concerned about what this type of development means for those who live there. At the risk of putting words in his mouth I would say he is concerned...not only in the context of what is proposed for Oak Park, but about wht this model in general means for the the people who wind up living there.

J.G. Morales  

Posted: February 11th, 2011 10:45 AM

@j.oak park con't- If this link is correct, it was not a misquote. It seems that Mr. Pappageorge feels that his main point was overlooked for the more controversial statement. Nevertheless, the was asked. I don't believe he meant any harm by it. Yet, it does still ring with judgment and assumption. Thanks again Ms. O'Shea for posting the links!

J.G. Morales  

Posted: February 11th, 2011 10:35 AM

@j.oak park- LOL, what you did is not the same as what was posted in the original article. Pulled from Patricia's link (thanks!): "This project punishes folks for bettering their lives. Since it is for single adults, Interfaith tenants who find love and life-partners will be forced to move out. Since it excludes those who earn too much, tenants who climb the economic ladder will be rewarded with eviction. What motivation will there be for betterment? " VERY straightforward!

j.oak park  

Posted: February 11th, 2011 9:40 AM

JG. not so careful editing of your words: Local resident JG says about the comcast building "you've gotta admit it sounds kind of bad. It should be easy to understand why some would find it offensive" he also says "those of us who are against it ... prejudiced and cold". Now you take ownership of me taking your words out of context. I don't think you think this, and I apologies for pointing you out like this. Please realize that context is a very important factor in quoting someone.

Patricia O'Shea  

Posted: February 11th, 2011 9:08 AM

@J.G. Morales: Here's a more specific link to Demetrios's comments. They were under the heading "From the Buzz Cafe" Sorry to bury them!!/topic.php?uid=183305981700320&topic=384

J.G. Morales  

Posted: February 10th, 2011 6:12 PM

@Demetrios, con't- Even if the original article was deliberately spun to highlight a specific remark, take ownership of what you say. The few who support this project are looking for everything they can to make those of us who are against it seem prejudiced and cold. Politics. (Some are, some aren't.) Is it that you didn't make the statement? Or that you feel that statement should not have been highlighted as your point?

J.G. Morales  

Posted: February 10th, 2011 6:00 PM

@Patricia - Thanks for posting the link but I did not see his speech (Just Amy's). @Demetrios - I'm sorry you're getting so much flack over that statement, but you've gotta admit it sounds kind of bad. It should be easy to understand why some would find it offensive. Your over all point might be perfect, but "no reason to better themselves" is pretty straight forward. However, if you did not make that statement, by all means, raise heck about it!

Patricia O'Shea  

Posted: February 8th, 2011 12:09 PM

If you would like to read the entire speech Demetrios Pappageorge made to the Plan Commission, go to!/pages/Concerned-Citizens-Madison-Avenue-Housing-Project-Oak-Park/183305981700320 (To use link, highlight it, press ctrl c to copy. Then go to your browser address bar, select the text there then press ctrl p to paste.

Demetrios Pappageorge from Oak Park  

Posted: February 7th, 2011 9:00 PM

@Ms. Morris & J.G. - It amazes me that you would form an opinion based on one carefully lifted phrase from my entire argument. The point I made at the planning hearing was that the proposed plan would force those who moved up the economic ladder and/or who found spouses to be evicted. In a mixed-income building with 1 & 2 bedroom units, tenants of both scenarios would be allowed to stay in our neighborhood for as long as they wish. I'm open for discussion if you would like to meet.

J.G. Morales  

Posted: February 2nd, 2011 7:56 PM

I agree. I believe he posted stating that his remarks were taken out of context. However, I can't imagine a context that would make the statement sound less judgmental (unless he was misquoted). It' sad, but many of people seem to think this way. Nevertheless, that remark does not represent all who oppose.

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