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Elementary School Students Suffer from CHA Relocations

by Mary C. Piemonte 

CHA Lathrop Homes elementary aged students now have to travel a further distance to attend another school, after their former school changed to Alcott High School for the Humanities, located at 2957 N. Hoyne Ave. Photo by Mary C. Piemonte

Grammar-school children from the Julia C. Lathrop Homes public housing community now have to walk up to 10 blocks to school because of Chicago Housing Authority relocations, according to a former president of the tenants’ Local Advisory Council.

Juanita Stephenson told Residents’ Journal that CHA’s relocations of tenants from the North Side public housing complex, located near the intersections of Damen Avenue, Clybourn Street and Diversey Avenue, made the attendance rate “crash” at the nearby George Schneider Elementary School, formerly at 2957 N. Hoyne Ave., where the majority of Lathrop’s elementary school students attended.
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Protestors Rally to Keep Medicaid Services

by Mary C. Piemonte 
A protestor holds a sign expressing the sentiments of the gathering on Sept. 21. Photo by Mary C. Piemonte.

A protestor at a Sept. 21 rally against potential cuts to federal health care programs. Photo by Mary C. Piemonte.

Seniors and people with disabilities rallied outside of Federal Plaza in downtown Chicago this week, chanting “We will not be silent,” in an attempt to block cuts to Medicaid and Medicare.

The protestors were responding to on-going negotiations by the congressional “Super-Committee,” which is seeking ways to reduce the federal deficit, and may propose cuts to existing federal government programs.

The protestors gathered on Sept. 21 represented diverse organizations around the city and demanded that Illinois’ U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) “expand the use of home and community-based services; de-medicalize community services; expand consumer directed service options; reorganize Medicaid services to eliminate wasteful bureaucracy; and defend Social Security.”

The protest was organized by ADAPT and the Taskforce for Attendant Services, an advocacy group of Access Living, which is an organization for people with disabilities. The event was held “in solidarity” with a national protest happening in Washington D.C. and other protests throughout the country, according to Tom Wilson, an organizer with Access Living.

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Charlotte Housing Authority Chief takes CHA Position

by Mary C. Piemonte 

Mayor Rahm Emanuel's choice to head the Chicago Housing Authority, outgoing Charlotte, North Carolina, Housing Authority CEO Charles Woodyard. Photo from Charlotte Housing Authority website.

Carlos Ponce, interim chief of the Chicago Housing Authority is out, and Charles Woodyard, the CEO of the Charlotte Housing Authority since 2002, is in. Woodyard will govern CHA’s family and senior housing stock, and oversee the Plan for Transformation, which calls for 25,000 units of fully rehabilitated or renovated housing by 2015.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced today that Woodyard’s new position begins on October 24, and he added that Ponce will remain as a senior advisor “to help ensure a smooth transition.”

Ponce was put in place after former chief Lewis Jordan resigned after it was discovered that he and other CHA staff members were frivolously using credit cards for things not pertaining to the general operation of the public housing stock.

Emanuel said that Woodyard “has proven management ability and a history of innovation in public housing, and is the right man to lead the CHA to the successful completion of its Plan for Transformation and beyond,” stated Emanuel in a press release. “Throughout his career, Charles has focused on sound financial management and has dedicated himself to providing residents with affordable, sanitary and safe housing. In Charlotte, Charles was able to successfully integrate public housing into communities, a crucial element of Chicago’s Plan for Transformation. He has built strong partnerships with community groups and encouraged private sector investment in public housing, and we look forward to his leadership here in Chicago.”

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Forgotten History: Lecture on Black Aviators

by Mary C. Piemonte 

From left to right: 92 year old Tuskegee Airman Marshall Knox, Tyrone Haymore, the director and co-founder of the Robbins History Museum, Keneth Rapier, president of the Tuskegee Airmen’s Chicago “DODO” Chapter, and Pastor Bill Winston, who served in the U.S. Air Force as a fighter pilot, talking about the forgotten history of Black aviators at the DuSable Muesum of African American History on Sept. 8, 2011. Photo by Mary C. Piemonte

Chicagoland aviators, aviation enthusiasts and aviation historians descended on the DuSable Museum of African American History on Sept. 8 “to talk about and pay tribute to the endeavors of the great pioneers of flight, from Bessie Coleman and the Tuskegee Airmen to present day history-makers.”

The lecture entitled “The Sky is Not the Limit” focused on the legacy of African Americans in aviation and aerospace. The panelists included an original Tuskegee Airman — one of the pioneering African American soldiers who flew in World War II. The panelists talked about how they got interested in becoming pilots and how it was for African American pilots during their service in the U.S military.
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Altgeld’s New Library

by Alisha Jacobs 

Editor’s Note: The following article was written by a youth reporter who is a graduate of the Urban Youth International Journalism Program class at People for Community Recovery, a not-for-profit organization based in the Altgeld Gardens public housing development.

After fighting for 10 months, Altgeld Gardens finally got a library. There is a door separating Carver Elementary School and the Altgeld Library. It is the first public library to share a Chicago Public Schools building. The library is located right across the street from the Larry Hawkins Chicago International Charter School (CICS) and Carver Primary Elementary school. The library opened April 8, 2011; at this time, it is under-going renovation to install a central air system.

Residents’ Journal interviewed Shante Jackson, the children’s library associate, and Jackson said the library had to close on

The interior of the new library in the Altgeld Gardens community. Photo by Alisha Jacobs.

several of the hottest days of the summer. “We close based on the temperature outside. If it’s too hot, we use a fan or we shut the library down,” Jackson said. “The library is very important to the community. Altgeld needs it more now because there are more residents and schools in the community.”

The library has free wireless internet and 30 computer stations, 20 for children and 10 for adults. There were 25 residents in the library at the time of the RJ interview. Residents were at the computers, searching for books and checking out books. The library is a heavily utilized place in Altgeld.

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Corporate Partnership Builds a Public School Playground

by Mary C. Piemonte 

Howe Elementary School of Excellence students on their new playground built through Coca Cola's "Sprite Spark Park Project" on September 9, 2011. Photo by Mary C. Piemonte

Keisha S. Campbell, principal of the Howe School of Excellence in the West Side’s Austin neighborhood, pointed at her school’s new playground and recalled what was there before:

“When we took over Howe, there was not a green area on site. It was gravel,” Campbell said during a press conference on Friday, Sept. 9, at the school, 720 N. Lorel Ave. “In three years, due to the partnership of the Chicago Public Schools, and the alderman’s office, we now have a green area and grass for students to run and play safely.”

Actually, the new playground at Howe – a school that is run by a private non-profit organization under contract to the Chicago Public Schools – is the result of a grant from a major corporation, Coca Cola/Sprite, which donated $25,000 to build the brand new playground where none existed under their “Sprite Spark Parks Project for Schools,” a national campaign that is “focused on refurbishing active spaces for students, in order to create clean, safe and fun areas and to encourage physical fitness among students.”
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Follow We The People Media/Residents’ Journal on Twitter

by Newsbrief 

You can now follow We The People Media at Twitter.com, “a real-time information network that connects you to the latest information about what you find interesting.”
Click the link here
for “Tweets” of Residents’ Journal’s local and national news coverage, and Residents’ Journal’ Cable Access Network Television episodes.

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Cabrini Row House Tenants Prepare to Fight CHA

by Mary C. Piemonte 

Residents and their supporters protest in the Cabrini-Green Row Houses in June 2010. Photo by Mary C. Piemonte.

Tenants of the Cabrini Green Row-Houses are preparing to battle the Chicago Housing Authority for “reneging” on their promise to rehab all remaining units at the North Side public housing complex.

The final high-rise in Cabrini-Green was demolished this past spring, but 534 low-rise units remain in the complex. In 2008, CHA received approval from the federal government to rehab the row houses. However, only 146 units were rehabbed in 2009, leaving 438 units in disrepair, with a great majority left vacant. Only 33 of those are currently occupied, “creating a 92% vacancy rate,” according to the CHA, which announced late last week that it will not continue rehabilitation and will instead boot out the remaining public housing tenants in the non-rehabbed section of the row houses. CHA claimed that “persistent criminal activity” in the area “forces” them to make the tenants relocate elsewhere.

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