If watermelons were grapes ...

Opinion: Letters To The Editor

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It turns out that Rob Breymaier is the source of the often quoted $86,000 neighborbood income statistic used to support the diversity of the Comcast redevelopment [Why the data differed, Viewpoints, June 22].

Apparently the statistic was provided during expert testimony before the Plan Commission and then relied upon by the board during deliberations. Being a 30-year real estate professional, I can certainly sympathize with his difficulty in balancing useful data and building support for real estate projects. However, the Median Family Income data relied upon by the commission and then the board is akin to describing a neighborhood's wine-making potential by the volume of grapes and watermelons grown there. Some would say, yes, they are both fruit from which wine has been made. But watermelon wine hasn't really taken off commercially, and in all likelihood won't.

Comcast is planned as a "51-unit apartment building for low-income singles" [As Oak Park trustees listen, vote on Comcast housing plan nears, News, May 18]. By using the Median Family Income statistic, where families are defined as two or more occupants, the statistic simply ignores the character of the neighborhood in which Comcast resides. It is also a poor comparison, however much contemporary.

Median Family Income ignores Bon Villa Apartments and the YMCA's SRO housing, two of the largest single-occupant-oriented housing projects in Oak Park,which are also located in the neighborhood. It ignores the incomes of many single, elderly occupants of the village's largest housing project, Mills Tower, as well as single occupants of the other neighborhood elderly housing projects. It ignores the many single residents of those Residence Corporation-managed affordable projects, including Oak Park Housing Authority property already in the neighborhood.

Yes, there are examples of high-income families in this neighborhood — likely making over $86,000 per year. However, it is also one of the village's most affordable housing areas — before Comcast — diverse, important points lost to statistics. The neighborhood now has the three largest affordable residential projects in Oak Park targeted toward singles.

To Mr. Breymaier's other point, median household income, when compared to median family income, is always lower, particularly in high density, relatively more affordable neighborhoods such as Tract 8128, because of the diversity of housing, including higher numbers of singles. I still believe the median household income of the neighborhood (in CY2000 was $44,069) compared with Mr. Breymaier's $86,000, a much more relevant comparison to the single-occupant $26,400 maximum income occupant targeted for Comcast. My guess is that this comparable characteristic of affordability is still well below the village overall, which in 2000 was $59,183.

Brian Lantz
Oak Park

Reader Comments

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Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: July 1st, 2011 3:24 PM

Like all non-profits, the Oak Park Regional Housing Center has a bias as per their funding sources. The Center receives federal Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), whose allocation is decided by the Village of Oak Park ($111,571 for 2011). Also, the selected census tract to derive relevant data for the neighborhood project was much too large of an area, and should have been limited to surrounding census blocks.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: June 29th, 2011 12:49 AM

Rob Breymaier, is one of the founders & spokesperson for Housing Oak Park(HOP), a private group of housing pro's and aficionados formed in 2007 to lobby the OP gov't on housing issues. HOP in a 2007 letter laid out to the board substantive housing policy changes that seemingly became OP Housing Manifesto. Another HOP spokesperson is Ed Solan, sponsor of the Madison Housing Proposal. Who was Breymaier representing at the Plan Com meeting? Was his erroneous numbers an error or a fait accompli?

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