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Inspector General Nabs Employees

by Julio Martinez 

Once again, CHA Inspector General Leonard Odom is working on a case involving CHA employees. He says what he is trying to do is correct the mistakes of the past. “With the takeover of the Chicago Housing Authority came new employees, such as Mr. Shuldiner [CHA executive director] and Mr. Eisendrath [former CHA chairman] and many other persons who established new rules of operation. A new system was initiated to update the registration of CHA property so that it is now easier to protect and retrieve property in case of theft. For example, take the case of some plumbing supplies that were stolen from CHA warehouses, transferred to sites unknown to us and eventually sold as scrap metal. During our investigation, these materials were recovered through the use of our new identification system. This system was established by our Finance Division. Thanks also go to our residents who brought forth information that was used to recover the materials. Read more »

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Access Report

by Thomas Merriweather 

In this continuing series of stories on the subject of access for the disabled residents of CHA, I have learned some interesting facts: the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has been law for more than seven years but lack of compliance to its rules and regulations remains a significant factor. Federally funded housing such as that provided by CHA has been rather slow in implementing access measures and it is very difficult to determine who or what specific entity may be blamed for these infractions. Read more »

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The Million Woman March: One Woman’s View

by Mary C. Piemonte 

Since there was very little coverage of the Million Woman March that took place on October 25,1997, in Philadelphia, PA, I thought it would be a good idea to write about what I saw and heard there.

The Journey

Quite a few of CHA’s women employees were going to the Million Woman March. I accompanied them on the bus that they had chartered. During the long 15 hour ride, some of the women discussed a few of the issues that were to be covered at the march, while others either slept or watched videos in between stops. We were given T-shirts made by Cabrini Green Textile Works to commemorate the occasion. One of the ladies even read a poem to help inspire us. We finally arrived in Philadelphia at 9:20 p.m. Friday.

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The Next CHA Chairman?

by Andre Robinson 

The Chicago Housing Authority has been without a chairman since Nov. 1, 1997, when then-Chairman Edwin Eisendrath stepped down from his post to take on a different venture.

Because CHA has been controlled by the federal government since 1995, President Bill Clinton will make the final decision on who will get the job. Andrew Cuomo, the secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, will likely make a recommendation to the president.

But local politicians also will have a strong voice in who becomes the new chairman. U.S. Rep. Danny Davis (D-7), U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush (D-1), U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-2) and U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley-Braun (D-IL) strongly endorsed former Mayor Eugene Sawyer. Sawyer now works for Crown Energy, an oil brokerage that had business dealings with CHA. Sawyer also is co-chairman of Rush’s voter registration drive in memory of Mayor Harold Washington, whom Sawyer succeeded as mayor. Sawyer reportedly was pleased with the endorsements but had to remove his name from the possible candidates. Read more »

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Farewell, Mr. Chairman

by Anita Baker 

As chairman of Chicago Housing Authority, Edwin Eisendrath headed the 1995 federal takeover. Eisendrath stepped down in November to pursue a career in the education field but RJ Reporter Anita Baker caught up with him in his new office and reflected on the past three years.

RJ: What was your role as CHA chairman?

EE: “I hired CHA’s executive director, who is Joseph Shuldiner, a choice I am very glad I made.

“The responsibilities that were mine suddenly became Mr. Shuldiner’s and he is now is doing all of the heavy lifting. The board has to approve a number of things: policies of the agency, budgets, contracts, etc. In this case, I was the board. Everything was unanimous. In order to do this you have to listen to lots of people. You can’t just say ‘Gee, I’m on your own. I get to make whatever decision I want.’ Then you’re guaranteed to fail. You have to spend lots of time listening to residents and community leaders. Instead reach out for whatever the best opinion about how to do things. Read more »

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The Mighty Residents of Bromley-Heath

by Izora Davis 

Here I am in Boston, anticipating to see low-income residents of public housing that have fought for safe, decent, sanitary, affordable housing as well as managing their own dwellings. My thoughts are: what a sight to see!!

As the cab drives along the streets, I see beautiful housing and businesses flourishing everywhere. I wonder: where is this public housing? As we slowly approach the area, I see high rises but they do not look like public housing to me.

As usual, my mind starts to think back on Chicago and the flight toward new mixed income communities. I wonder if I’ll see housing that compares to the idea of mixed-income communities in Chicago – the beautiful architecturally-designed housing with spacious rooms that will serve families with children. This vision is very much different from the housing as we now know it and live in it. A smile instantly comes upon my face – “Ahhh” – just the thought of safe, decent, sanitary housing, as well as quality. “My, oh my.”

But soon, the thoughts and the ideas that were set in my mind would be exploded. In Boston, Mass., I found a reality where quality housing is being carried out and managed by the most delightful residents of the Bromley-Heath Tenant Management Corporation, which is the nation’s oldest tenant management organization.

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