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Debating Affordable Housing

by Michael Ibrahem 

On April 9, the Chicago City Council passed Mayor Richard M. Daley’s version of an affordable housing ordinance. Many activists are concerned that the mayor’s ordinance does not go far enough to alleviate the affordable housing crisis in Chicago.

According to Fourth Ward Ald. Toni Preckwinkle, “We think that this is a good beginning and we’re looking for consideration of our [alternative] ordinance which would apply to the private development community and involve the creation of a lot more units.

Our ordinance is still in committee and we are hoping there will be a point at which it is heard, and we will have an opportunity to provide testimony for its support.”
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Lathrop Homes News

by Bobby Watkins 

On Wednesday, April 9, residents of Lathrop Homes experienced a major power outage which shut down electricity throughout the whole development and shut down most offices. Residents had lights out for days. U.S. Dwellings, the management company for Lathrop, put an emergency plan into effect. Lending a hand were Commonwealth Edison along with CHA representatives from headquarters.

They walked around the development to determine what had caused the problem. Management’s janitorial staff worked late into the night to be of whatever assistance they to could to residents. They were knocking on doors and checking on those known to have oxygen tanks or any illness that might require immediate attention as a result of the blackout. Read more »

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Thomas Sullivan Report Update

by Beauty Turner Assistant Editor

The problems with the city’s ongoing, ambitious plan to transform its public housing are weighing heavily on the city’s so-called “Big Shoulders.” The Chicago Housing Authority is trying to lift some of that burden by implementing some of the recommendations made by Thomas Sullivan, the independent monitor of the transformation process.

Last year, Sullivan, a former U.S. attorney, analyzed Phase II of the CHA Plan for Transformation and presented his results to the CHA and the Central Advisory Council. In a report which hit the Windy City like a tornado, Sullivan found that residents with Housing Choice Vouchers are moving into predominately African American areas that have a high concentration of poverty. Sullivan reported that some residents moved into CHA temporary replacement units in “deplorable” conditions. Sullivan observed the presence of gangs and drug dealers in many of the developments into which people are being moved.
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Making CHA Accessible

by Lorenzia Shelby 

Access Living, located at 614 W. Roosevelt Road, is a center for services for people with disabilities. Their mission is to promote self-esteem, and assist the disabled in their efforts to live an independent life. They have personal assistance programs that help the disabled with their grocery shopping and dressing and bathing. They teach people with disabilities how to ride the CTA buses and trains. They also have programs for people dealing with domestic and sexual abuse. They teach young people with disabilities how to take control of their lives.

Access Living’s staff feel they are leading the charge in the fight for the rights and respect long overdue to people with disabilities. Legislation related to the efforts of Access Living include the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Fair Housing Amendments Act and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
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The Shocking Truth about CHA

by Beauty Turner Assistant Editor

Residents in the Robert Taylor Homes are being judged as non-lease compliant due to their electric utility bills and may lose their right to return to public housing units in the new mixed-income communities which are planned to replace the current developments. CHA’s relocation contract with its residents stipulates that if a resident is not current or on a payment plan concerning their utilities, they will not receive replacement housing, a Housing Choice Voucher or have the right to return to public housing.

But the shocking truth is that CHA may itself be responsible for making many residents non-lease compliant. Back in 1998, CHA dropped the ball when it came to registering buildings in Robert Taylor Homes for electric utility service, according to an RJ investigation. Read more »

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Homeless Not Hopeless

by Ethan Michaeli, Publisher 

How many Chicago public housing residents will be left homeless by the Chicago Housing Authority’s ongoing Plan for Transformation? The answer to this question should be ‘zero.’ The CHA is required by law, after all, to provide replacement housing for all public housing tenants that will be affected by the agency’s 10-year effort to demolish, rehab and redevelop the agency’s entire housing stock.

But CHA officials apparently have a different interpretation of their legal responsibilities, as indicated by the recently released numbers of residents who were relocated during 2002. According to those figures, a significant number of residents ended up outside of the public housing system altogether – despite CHA’s responsibility to house every relocated resident.

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