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Harold Ickes News

by Jacqueline Thompson 

Things have changed dramatically here in Ickes. On one hand, they remain the same. But some things have gotten worse.

The most dramatic change has occurred all along the State Street Corridor, where public housing has had its imposing presence whittled down to flatlands of mystery.

Who knows where all the families have gone? Who knows what will occupy the vacated land? Who knows when and if sufficient housing for low-income families will rise from the demolition of “a city within a city?” Read more »

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Child of the Pack Saddle IX

by John Sampson 

I’ll give you a bird’s eye view, a fleeting glance of that Bayou Harlem called the Sonja Quarters.

As I remember, it was not such a bad place to live when comparing the Sonja Quarters to a lot of other Black communities and/or neighborhoods I’ve since lived in. For one thing, the whole area from stem to stern was as clean as the Board of Health and as neatly kept as grandma’s kitchen. And whereas the sidewalks were bare, the streets were tolerable. Not the best but tolerable considering the time and the place. Read more »

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African-American Male Suicides

by Michael Ibrahem 

There is a crisis in America and while African American leaders search for answers, some community groups are finding solutions of their own.

A recent study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and co-authored by University of Pennsylvania Professor Sean Joe found that suicides remain very high among the nation’s youth, specifically in African American communities, where there is a significant amount of violence associated with suicides.

“Seventy percent of African American youth who commit suicide do so with guns,” said Joe. The study co-authored by Joe “suggests that there is in fact a youth development crisis in the African American community.” Read more »

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Lathrop Homes Private Management

by Bobby Watkins 

It’s been two years almost since private management began to run family and senior housing. So, as it is time for these companies to bid on their contracts again, I thought, ‘Why not talk with the residents as well as the managers and see what grades they give them.’

I also wanted to see how management rates themselves. So I went into the developments and spoke with both. They got some reports of praise as well as some criticism. I also felt management did a good job the way they answered the questions that were put to them that came from residents as well as myself – speaking on how they operate in the development and how they would like to continue to operate. Let’s hear what everyone had to say.
Read more »

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Productive Men of the CHA

by Bobby Watkins 

Robert is the newly elected Local Advisory Council vice president in Lathrop Homes. Robert has been involved in the community for the past 5 years and has been a member of the tenant patrol in the 26th Ward. He also serves as the area president where he lives and is involved with the 19th District Community Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS) as well as the summer food program.

Presently, he is assisting residents who have to move. He feels very strongly about the work he does in the community and hopes to be of service to relocating residents with his own moving business. Davidson feels he is part of the team to make things better in his development and says his cause is to fight to make things better and help to make this relocation go smoothly. Read more »

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CAC Prepares for Battle

by Mary C. Piemonte 

The Chicago Housing Authority resident council is preparing for the many challenges that public housing residents under redevelopment will face.

The first thing on the resident council’s agenda will be to get the federal government to recognize resident leadership after relocation. The next thing on their agenda will be to come to an understanding with the aldermen in public housing areas to secure public housing sites for relocatees from CHA property redevelopment.
Read more »

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Squatters Worry About Homelessness

by Beauty Turner Assistant Editor

Many residents of public housing are asking the public, what would you do if you had no money, no job and no place to call home? How low would you go? Would you become a squatter?

I’m running into many squatters as I continue to do my research with professor Sudhir Venkatesh from Columbia University, author of American Project.

Take, for instance, a young man who’s squatting in one of the vacant units in a Chicago Housing Authority development, a young man known to the other building residents as “Larry.” I asked him how he got to be a squatter? Read more »

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Girl X Reveals Tragic History

by Patricia Johnson-Gordon 

“Girl X Settles With CHA for $3 million.” That’s the way the headlines appeared in the April 18 daily newspapers and how the story was announced on several television and radio news stations.

The settlement was the result of a lawsuit filed on behalf of 15-year-old Toya Currie. Currie was given the title ‘Girl X’ after her attack at 1121 N Larrabee in CHA’s Cabrini-Green public housing development in January 1997. Currie was nine years old at the time of the attack.

Another, possibly unauthorized Cabrini-Green resident, Patrick Sykes, was convicted of the assault and sentenced to 120 years in prison this past July. Read more »

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Ickes’ Homes New Managers

by Jacqueline Thompson 

The Woodlawn Organization (TWO), the new managers of the Harold Ickes Homes, is struggling to do a good job of managing the regular management-resident connections. Take, for instance, the monthly rent statements. I have regularly received mine five to ten days past the first of the month. I wait and hold on to my money order but it doesn’t come. I pay my rent and get a receipt without the rent statement to attach to my money order. I think, “Oh well. Maybe next month.”

In March, I got a statement with two months unpaid rent showing. Well, I know I paid February’s rent but I got nervous because if they made such a glaring mistake, how safe are your funds? By April 11, 2002 no rent statement yet. However, when I paid on the sixth of the month, TWO issued me a 14-day notice. Why? I wasn’t behind in paying rent. “Don’t worry,” the clerk said. “You’ve paid your rent. “It’s in your lease that after five days, without paying, you’re due a 14 day notice.” Read more »

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Shocking Electric Bills

by Beauty Turner Assistant Editor

Many Robert Taylor residents are suddenly finding themselves facing extremely high electric bills, bills in the $10,000 range and higher that can make them non-lease compliant and ineligible for replacement housing.

CHA is going through a $1.6 billion Plan for Transformation that states if a resident is found non-lease compliant, they may not be relocated to another development, a scattered site unit or the same development or receive a Housing Choice Voucher (formerly known as Section 8).

A tenant can be found non-lease compliant if a tenant’s utilities are not paid up. One young single mother of three, Lithia Henderson, said, “My electric bills are sky high. How do they expect for me to pay this $11,000 light bill?” Read more »

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