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Traveling: From Therapy to Art

by Michael Ibrahem 

Last year, I decided to visit one of the most amazing locations on Earth. I decided I really needed to get a much closer view of the Himalayan mountain range in Asia. I had traveled there in the past without ever leaving the urban areas. This time, I allowed myself to do some trekking, which is the reason why most people go there.

I made a reservation about six weeks before I planned to leave the United States and almost immediately, I came down with something; I don’t know what. I had to leave home still sick and continued feeling physically ill throughout the trip. I would have to recuperate once I got back to Chicago. Read more »

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Representing Residents

by Bobby Watkins 

There have been a lot of complaints from public housing residents recently about the leadership in their developments. Some residents feel they are not being properly represented by their elected representatives. Others feel that there is always favoritism in the distribution of donated items, jobs and other things. Some residents also feel monies are being mismanaged. Read more »

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Chicago’s Hottest Elections

by Beauty Turner Assistant Editor

I‘m hot on the trails of the hottest candidates in this lukewarm election. Though many incumbents are running unopposed, some sparks are flying in the Windy City wind when it comes to this year’s municipal race. One of the races that is sure to be hot and sizzling and may cause a Chicago fire is the mayoral race. Mayor Richard M. Daley announced his bid for re-election in the last year, according to his campaign spokesperson, Julian Green.

“Our platform is called working together. Mayor Daley has been working with elected officials, city and community groups, reverends and the like to move Chicago forward,” Green said. “For many years, the city was divided but for the last 14 years, Mayor Daley has been bridging the gap.” Read more »

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Residents Sue CHA

by Mary C. Piemonte 

Former and current public housing residents who claimed to be “involuntarily displaced and segregated” filed suit against the Chicago Housing Authority on Jan 23, 2003. The lawsuit alleges that CHA “failed to provide adequate relocation assistance and effective social services to families displaced by public housing demolition,” in violation of federal law and CHA’s contractual agreements with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and with CHA resident leaders.

After previous interactions with residents who were displaced by the CHA, and after communications with current residents who participated in their housing research, attorneys of the National Center on Poverty Law, the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and Business and Professional People for the Public Interest came together to stop the public housing agency from displacing other families in the future. Read more »

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Running Out of Gas

by Beauty Turner Assistant Editor

Cuts to the budgets of state and local governments are slicing into the pockets of the relocatees from public housing. Public housing residents are not the only population affected by the budget cuts, of course. Activists and advocates for the poor are arguing that these cuts are taking and will take a big bite out of the pocket books of the working poor and middle-income residents as well.

Recent reports indicate that the Low-Income Energy Home Assistance Program (LIHEAP) may get $300 million less than last year, if the Bush Administration gets its way. For decades, LIHEAP has helped many elderly and low-income residents by paying their gas and electric bills. Advocates are up in arms about the possibility of thousands of low-income people being affected by this cut. Read more »

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Seniors Complain About Renovations

by Lorenzia Shelby 

In mid April 2002, work began on a number of Chicago Housing Authority senior building sites. This was the latest installment of the plan to renovate all of the senior buildings.

In my building, the Las Americas Racine Apartments in the Pilsen community at 1611 S. Racine Ave, they started working on the outside of the building. The first thing they worked on was the roof. They stripped and cleaned the roof of old tar and debris, and did a complete restoration.Their next task was the sides of the building. They started at the top of the building grinding and scraping old concrete from between the bricks until the four sides of the building were done. They washed the sides of the building down with water, preparing them to be tuckpointed and caulked. Read more »

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Report Criticizes CHA Relocations

by Mary C. Piemonte 

All is apparently not well on the home front for many public housing residents who are undergoing the Chicago Housing Authority’s massive $1.6 billion plan to turn its public housing properties into mixed-income communities.

A recent independent study of the housing plan by a renowned attorney, hired by the public housing agency to do the study, discovered that some residents did not have enough time and/or opportunity to secure units in the private market using Housing Choice Vouchers, while others moved into rehabilitated units within CHA that were “substandard and decrepit.” Read more »

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An Invasion of Privacy?

by Beauty Turner Assistant Editor

There are many issues that lie buried behind the walls of public housing, but this is one that I wanted to shed a little light on. Many residents in the Raymond Hilliard Homes are feeling violated by the very thought of the Chicago Housing Authority and the development’s private management firm, Holsten Realty, wanting them to submit to a drug test in order to renew or receive a lease.
Recently, a few tenants handed me a new draft lease that read, “As a precondition to renewing this lease, landlord requires that all adult members (persons 18 and older) submit a urine sample for an analysis of such sample for non prescribed, prohibited controlled substances, by a qualified laboratory selected by the landlord.” Read more »

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Myths and Urban Legends

by Ethan Michaeli, Publisher 

There are a lot of urban legends out there about the redevelopment of Chicago’s public housing communities. Urban legends and other myths – like the movie ‘Candyman’ or stories about alligators living in the sewer system. – are useful for frightening children or for a scary night in front of the television. Watching a scary movie will keep kids out of the basement, even when it is time to get the laundry.

But the myths I’m writing about are those that are keeping Chicago Housing Authority officials, advocates and activists from crafting a public housing redevelopment plan that will really work for tenants. These are myths that doom any redevelopment plan because they stop those responsible for developing and implementing any redevelopment plan from going where they should – intellectually, that is. Read more »

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