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The Man Who Scared the Hell Out of Me

by Annie R. Smith 

I was standing in the Rose Garden at the White House. The sun was shining and the weather was perfect. September 26, 1996, was the day and President Clinton signed a bill which gave funds to support various programs, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. I stood over his shoulder as he used a different pen for each letter plus one for dotting the I’s and crossing T’s. It was a real spooky political ritual.

Less than 24 hours prior, I was at home in Chicago having lunch with Harry McGraw. After lunch was over, I went home and checked my voice mail. Ron Carter, CHA’s director of economic development, had left me a message stating how imperative it was that I get back with him. It was 1:30 p.m. and I didn’t finish listening to the message because I thought it was pertaining to my photography business. I immediately disconnected and called him. Ron explained that I was to represent CHA in Washington plus meet the President. The catch was I had to leave within a couple of hours. I agreed to catch the 8:15 p.m. flight to Washington, D.C.
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A Teen’s Shattered Dreams

by Kevin Clark 

I’ve always wanted to become a professional football player and dreamt of one day seeing myself in a room filled with trophies. But what I failed to realize was all these dreams would soon be ripped and torn apart.

I joined a group of friends who decided to join the neighborhood’s football team. Some of the other boys had been playing for a while. When I joined the team, the coach took one look at me and decided my position would be center and tight end. On the day of our first game, my mother asked me not to play, as if she knew something was going to happen. While watching her expression change, I asked her not to worry because nothing could hurt me. I’m strong and able to play a good game. Read more »

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Seniors form new organization

by Martha Marshall 

Martha Marshall, Senior Central LAC President

The Senior Housing Central Advisory Council is now a reality for senior housing in CHA. The three senior LACs have come together to chart new courses and give direction to the CHA.

Our reasons for organizing this group are many. Primarily, we want to be in position to assist the powers that be in determining the future of senior housing in Chicago. I believe that if senior leadership is to be viable, we must be at the planning table from the inception of an idea, through the planning and completion. Senior housing in this city has undergone a metamorphosis over the past eight to 10 years with the housing of young and disabled individuals in the same buildings with senior residents. The introduction of alcohol and drug dependent persons into senior housing and the very serious neglect of many of the properties has caused us to be in a very severe crisis at this time. Read more »

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A Short History of Ida B. Wells

by Annie R. Smith 

The Ida B. Wells development is one of the oldest housing developments in the U.S. In this first installment of a two-part series, we will find out just who was Ida B. Wells. The second part of this series, which will appear in the upcoming issue of Residents’ Journal, will be a history of the public housing development named after Ida B. Wells. Read more »

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Your Neighborhood Policemen

by Annie R. Smith 

What would make a policeman volunteer to take up residency in a housing development? Why would they move out of a comfortable, peaceful, low density environment into an overpopulated, noisy, low income development with graffitti written walls and metal grates that shadow halls which smell of urine ever so often?

I recently interviewed two C.H.A.P.D. officers who moved into the ABLA development. I asked them the formidable question, “what prompted you into volunteering to move into one of the chicago housing authority’s complexes?” I found out why they took on the challenge. A nobler pair of men cannot be found anywhere in the world.

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Washington Park: The Dying Hope

by Izora Davis 

With redevelopments ongoing in several communities, we thought it would be important to review the history of the four empty Lakefront buildings, which have been waiting for redevelopment for a decade. Using history books and her personal recollections, writer Izora Davis explores the past, present and future of the buildings’ residents.

The history of public housing, as we all have come to know it, has touched each and every one of us in such a way it feels as though we built the buildings ourselves!

I refer to this story as the dying hope because it was a dream for many people to live in subsidized housing. When the buildings were first built, it made the government look as though it really cared about poor people. People felt as if they were a part of a nation that cared. Oh! What a joy. So much happiness thrilled people’s hearts: these were nice houses, not rat infested, and with spacious rooms. But slowly the doom has come. What did we do wrong? Through the years, piece by piece, all that we thought we had was taken away. Even today, when big changes are coming, the hope is dying for residents of Washington Park. Read more »

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A Long Ride Home

by Cecelia A. Clark 

While taking a cab home from work one evening, I gave the cab driver my address. He turned around and looked surprised

“You live there?” he asked.

The ‘there’ he was talking about was Cabrini-Green and my reply was the same as every time I had been asked this question in that way. “Yes.”

Then he started asking me more questions, “How do you live there? Because it’s so bad and there’s all this action going on.”

As our conversation continued, I would not – could not- let these questions go unanswered. So I proceeded to comment on his topics. The ‘action’ he was taking about takes place in the midst of the Gold Coast, Michigan Avenue, downtown and the Lakefront. Cabrini is surrounded by beaches, Lincoln Park, Northwestern Hospital and Children’s Memorial Hospital, where they bring children from all over the country to be treated. Cabrini is surrounded by banks, drug stores and some of the world’s best restaurants: the Crab House on Wells, Carson’s Ribs, Dave and Busters and so much more. I can see and hear that kind action from my apartment. Read more »

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Marion…Marion Stamps

by Patricia Johnson-Gordon 

And so we came together as a community, as we often do, and the press came to watch this community, as they often do. A community no longer defined by boundaries but by time, events and realities common to us all. And we stood and waited, anticipating the arrival of Marion(to those who knew her) and Marion Stamps (to those who did not.)

As a community, we gather together on many occasions. None of us are there all of the time. But, if there was a gathering that struck at the heart of this community, you could anticipate the arrival of Marion…Marion Stamps. If the issues were children, families, education, housing, welfare, warfare, building them up or tearing them down, she was there. Like it or not, invited or not, she was there. And even as a community, like it or not, invited or not, because some did not like it or invite, she represented us. She represented us because the issues that she challenged and championed affected each and every one of us. So, those of us who knew Marion… Marion Stamps knew that she was coming and anticipated her arrival. Read more »

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A History of Cabrini-Green

by Cecelia A. Clark 

Francis Cabrini Homes was constructed in 1941 and 1942. The first family moved in Aug. 1, 1942. The Cabrini Homes, commonly known today as the row houses, are bounded by Chicago Avenue on the south, Oak Street on the north, Cambridge Avenue on the west and Hudson Avenue to the east.

In 1900, the area where Cabrini-Green is located was crowded with frame and brick tenements and industrial buildings with two or even three buildings on a single lot. The area had a large Italian population and was often called “Little Sicily.” By 1940, the Black population in the area had grown to 20 percent, and by 1950 to 79 percent. There was still a 75 percent white population in the surrounding area. Read more »

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What’s Happening in ABLA?

by Deverra Beverly 

ABLA Homes residents recently received word that their development has received some $24 million from a federal HOPE VI grant. In this article, ABLA LAC President Deverra Beverly examines some of the steps that led to that success.

ABLA instituted a front line feeding program in 1990. This program feeds over 1200 people weekly, 144,000 yearly.

This program is being relocated for vendors. The ABLA community is very concerned regarding when the vendors will arrive. When and if this takes place, the Food Program should be located at the same address, 1254 S. Loomis, and takes place between the hours of 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m., and not in the evening at 8 p.m. If the weather is adverse or unsuitable, the person or persons can eat inside. 8 p.m. is too late for children to come to the food site to eat. Read more »

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