CHA Land Remains Vacant for Over a Decade (Commentary)

by Mary C. Piemonte 

There used to be a 16-story open-gallery high-rise building at 6215 S. Wabash Ave. in the Washington Park neighborhood on the South Side.

Closed CHA building at 6215 S. Wabash awaiting demolition in 1998. Residents' Journal archive photo by Mary C. Piemonte

The Chicago Housing Authority imploded the building in 1998 and the space where it stood remains vacant to this day. That was the first public housing building my children and I lived in after leaving the private housing market in 1989.

The building was also the focus of my first article that I wrote as a professional journalist with Residents’ Journal back in the summer of 1997. Read more »

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Board Squashes CHA Drug Testing Plan

by Mary C. Piemonte 

Public housing tenant leaders were pleased with Tuesday’s announcement from the Chicago Housing Authority that it has dropped plans to drug test all residents. CHA Board Chairman James Reynolds abruptly proclaimed that the Board would not try to approve the drug testing policy during the Commissioners public meeting today at the Charles A. Hayes Family Investment Center, 4859 S. Wabash Ave.

“We killed it,” he said.

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The Bow Campaign

by Tyreshia Black 

Editor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in the Urban Youth International Journalism Program in partnership with Imagine Englewood If, a youth services organization based in that South Side neighborhood:

People gathered at Mercy Church in Englewood on April 13 at the 17th Annual Blue Bow event for National Child Abuse Awareness Month. In 1989, the Blue Bow Campaign was started when a grandmother named Bonnie Finney was seen wearing a blue ribbon on her car antenna in memory of her grandson. Finney’s grandson was abused and killed by his own parents. Finney’s act was meant to make people wonder and ignite their concern. It was her personal way of showing love and memory for her grandson. The blue ribbon caught on as a symbol of child abuse awareness and prevention. Since then, the group Children’s Home and Aid has promoted the blue ribbon campaign annually, spreading hope and the message that together we can prevent child abuse and neglect.

Women’s groups, youth groups, student councils, parenting groups and other local groups were all at the event at Mercy Church. There was poetry and face-painting along with discussion about child abuse and neglect. There was an interfaith prayer for the ones who lost their lives to child abuse and the ones who tried to prevent children from being abused and neglected by their families. After the prayer, we discussed recent tragedies. One was about LaShandra Armstrong, a single mother who drove her car into the Hudson River and killed three of her children. Everyone was speechless when they heard about this. Read more »

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CHA Chief Steps Down

by Mary C. Piemonte 

After a breach of the public trust, Chicago Housing Authority CEO Lewis Jordan decided today to resign his 4-year-old tenure, following media coverage of his and other CHA staff members’ use of credit cards to charge thousands of dollars on expenses such as upscale restaurants and red light tickets.

CHA CEO Lewis Jordan tries to calm distraught tenants at the Charles A. Hayes Family Investment Center June 2, during a public hearing to comment on the agency’s plan to drug test all public housing tenants. Photo by Mary C. Piemonte

Since the investigation from other media came to light, new Mayor Rahm Emanuel took away Jordan’s use of two CHA cars and the police officers assigned to drive them, and ordered a full audit of how city officials and other staff had been using credit cards.

In an e-mailed statement, Jordan listed his accomplishments at the agency, but said that “over the past two weeks, questions about the propriety of credit card use have overshadowed the good and important work of the CHA.”

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Special Investigation: CHA Wanted Kids’ Report Cards

by Mary C. Piemonte 

Officials from the Chicago Housing Authority have been under fire recently for proposing to drug test all tenants. But for over a year, CHA pushed a new policy that would have required tenants to turn over their children’s report cards and other school information as a condition for remaining in public housing. CHA’s proposal was fiercely resisted by the tenants’ representatives and their lawyers, and the CHA eventually backed down.

“This is appalling, and is not, and never has been authorized by Federal statute, or the regulations issued by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD); nor is it contained as an exception in the CHA’s Moving to Work (MTW) Agreement,” declared Robert Whitfield, the attorney for the Central Advisory Council, the elected leaders of CHA tenants, in one of the back and forth emails to CHA General Counsel Scott Ammarell on December 8, 2010, which Residents’ Journal obtained from Whitfield.

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Tenants Protest CHA Drug Testing Plan

by Mary C. Piemonte 

Residents’ Journal’s video coverage of the June 1, 2011 public hearing on the Chicago Housing Authority’s plans to drug test all tenants, including seniors and those with disabilities as well as their plans to take away the tenants’ defense provision in their lease, for criminal activity committed by a family member or friend, unbeknown to them.

Low-income people from across the city held two days of protest last week against the Chicago Housing Authority’s plans to drug test of all tenants, including tenants of senior buildings. CHA residents and their allies also were protesting the agency’s efforts to limit tenants’ ability to avoid eviction.

On June 1, angry tenants and their advocates from the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization gathered in front of CHA’s downtown headquarters and said the agency’s proposed changes would violate the US Constitution’s 4th Amendment protecting citizens from unreasonable search and seizure.

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Tenants Protest CHA Plans to Drug Test Them

by Mary C. Piemonte 

Residents’ Journal’s video coverage of tenants and their advocates’, rally outside the headquarters of the Chicago Housing Authority on June 1, 2011, in protest of their plans to drug test all public housing residents, including seniors and those with disabilities.

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Residents’ Journal Editor Appearing on Vocalo Radio

by Ethan Michaeli, Publisher 

Tune in to Vocalo 89.5 FM’s community media roundtable radio talk show on Friday, June 3, 2011 from noon to 1 p.m., for a live taping featuring Residents’ Journal Editor-in-Chief Mary C. Piemonte, and other local community journalists and editors having a candid conversation with Chicago Reporter Editor Kimbriell Kelly, about the city’s new Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his administration’s dealings with issues that matters to their readership.

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