Off-Track

Why did city leaders derail an affordable housing project near the LRT line?

The housing project has also failed to garner support from City Council member Lisa Goodman, who chairs the community development committee. Her concerns about the development are less clear, however: Goodman refused to comment on the record for this story.

Residents of the Standish-Ericsson neighborhood who oppose the project argue that Simpson Housing didn't make a good-faith effort to inform them of the proposed housing development. There have been four public meetings about the project, but resident Michael Moran says that the nonprofit developers failed to provide adequate notice of the gatherings. "The gut-level, visceral reaction of people was, 'You're trying to put something over on me,'" says Moran, who moved to the neighborhood seven months ago to be closer to his grandchildren after retiring from a job in southern California. "The perception was created that they were doing the minimum amount necessary to create the impression that the neighborhood had been informed."

Simpson officials believe such arguments are simply a red herring. "We've spent six months working on this and meeting with neighbors," notes Wiegmann. "For what? It has totally to do with neighbors opposing this." She is also bewildered by Colvin Roy's recent insistence that the parcel of land be subjected to an open bidding process. "If she wanted an RFP for the project, we wish she would have mentioned that in October," Wiegmann says.

Jim Smith and Wendy Wiegmann, of Simpson Housing, have been thwarted in their efforts to build affordable housing
Michael Dvorak
Jim Smith and Wendy Wiegmann, of Simpson Housing, have been thwarted in their efforts to build affordable housing

The nonprofit developers are now seeking to meet with city officials in hopes of getting the project back on track. But they've also spoken with an attorney and are contemplating suing the city. "We do think that it's a violation of fair housing laws," says Mungavan. "But Simpson Housing wants to be providing housing, not suing people."

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