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Local Pastor Camps out on Motel Roof to Highlight Area Violence

by Mary C. Piemonte 

Pastor Corey Brooks, of New Beginnings Church, camping out on the rooftop of the vacant Super Motel, as a statment to crime in the area, on November 22, 2011. Photo by Mary C. Piemonte


In an effort to bring attention to violence in Chicago’s Woodlawn and Englewood communities, a local pastor has decided to camp out on the roof of an abandoned motel for 21 days, or until enough funds are raised to buy the motel and transform it into a community and economic development center.

“We’re trying to raise the funds, $450,000 so that we can purchase this motel, tear it down and do something economically that will be a blessing to the community,” said Corey Brooks, pastor of New Beginnings Church, 6620 S. King Drive, during a Nov. 22 interview on top of the former Super Motel, located across the street from the church. During the rooftop interview, members of Brooks’ church – which has over 3,000 members – were using a lift to haul electric heaters and other items onto the roof to help the pastor while he lives in a tent they had set up on top of the motel.
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Tenants’ Lawyer: CHA Drug Testing Policy Will End Up in Court

by Mary C. Piemonte 

Tenants' Central Advisory Council President Myra King telling former CHA Chief Lewis Jordan that their proposal to drug test all public tenants was “unfair and cruel," during a public hearing on the subject, at the Charles A. Hayes Family Investment Center on June 2, 2011. Photo by Mary C. Piemonte

After a huge public outcry this past June, the Chicago Housing Authority Board of Commissioners decided against drug testing all public housing tenants in the family and senior housing portfolio it oversees. See Residents’ Journal’s coverage here: http://wethepeoplemedia.org/homepage/board-squashes-cha-drug-testing-plan/
But CHA still approves of testing public housing tenants at their mixed-income properties managed by private developers as a condition for occupancy, which is not sitting right with the tenants’ Central Advisory Council.
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New Mandates for Chicago Public Schools

by Mary C. Piemonte 

Illinois Senator Mattie Hunter talking about CPS practices, as Andrea Lee, (seated far right), Grand Blvd Federation's Peer Parent Education Network organizer, along with other members Angelique Harris, and Josephine Norwood, looks on during the public forum on new mandates for Chicago Public Schools at the Illinois Institute of Technology on November 15, 2011. Photo by Mary C. Piemonte


Chicago residents now have a louder voice when it comes to the city’s schools under new legislation passed by the state, and a community organization recently brought together several elected officials and area residents to discuss how best to use their new power. On Nov. 15, the Grand Boulevard Federation’s Peer Parent Network and Illinois Sen. Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago) hosted “Know Your Rights,” a community forum at the Illinois Institute of Technology 2011.
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CHA Reopens Landmark Senior Building

by Mary C. Piemonte 

CHA CEO Charles Woodyard talking about how lives have been changed because of the renovations at the Pomeroy Senior Apartments, as Ald. Harry Osterman (48, from left) and Steven Meiss, director of HUD’s Illinois Office of Public Housing, look on, during the opening ceremony of the landmark building, on November 8, 2011. Photo by Mary C. Piemonte

Seniors who have been waiting for 5 years to return home to the Chicago Housing Authority’s Ralph J. Pomeroy Senior Apartments can now do so.

The 9-story, 89-year-old landmark building at 1039 W. Hollywood Blvd. in the Edgewater neighborhood, which the CHA obtained in 1966, officially reopened yesterday after receiving a “$21 million makeover,” said CHA’s new CEO, Charles Woodyard, during the grand opening ceremony.

Residents’ Journal reported in the fall of 2008 that many relocated seniors were eagerly waiting to return to the Pomeroy Apartments, which closed in the first quarter of 2006. You can read about it here:http://wethepeoplemedia.org/uncategorized/cha-seniors-keep-waiting-to-return-home/.

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$1 Billion for CTA

by Mary C. Piemonte 

Gov. Pat Quinn talks to reporters about his efforts to create jobs with infrastructure improvements as CTA President Forrest Claypool looks on during a press conference on renovating the Red and Purple ‘El’ public transit stations on Nov. 3, 2011.. Photo by Mary C. Piemonte


Two of the Chicago Transit Authority’s busiest train line stations will be improved and rebuilt, according to Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

The two announced today during a press conference at the 35th Street Red Line ‘El’ station that “slow zones” will be eliminated, systems will be upgraded, and tracks will be repaired on the Red and Purple train lines.

Quinn said during the press conference that this $1 billion “state capital investment” plan from a combination of state, local and federal funds would also create 2,700 jobs.

“Jobs that you can support a family on, construction jobs, good jobs,” he added.
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Some Lathrop Kids Get a Bus, But Not All

by Mary C. Piemonte 

Students from CHA's Lathrop Homes who transferred to Fredrick Jahn Elementary School now have a bus to help them trek the long distance there. Photo by Mary C. Piemonte

Students from the Lathrop Homes Chicago public housing complex now attending an elementary school some 10 blocks away recently got a bus their parents were fighting for – but some of their neighbors are still forced to walk.

The bus started taking kindergarten to eighth grade students from Lathrop to Jahn Elementary School a few weeks ago. The students started going to Jahn School after Schneider Elementary School, located inside the Lathrop development, closed this past June. Parents claimed Schneider closed due to a decrease in enrollment, which was caused by the Chicago Housing Authority’s relocation of families from Lathrop.
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Is CHA Holding Vacant Apartments?

by Mary C. Piemonte 

Leah Levinger, coalition coordinator for the Chicago Housing Initiative, talking to reporters about the huge vacancy rate at public housing sites, before the CHA Board meeting at Lathrop Homes on September 20, 2011. Photo by Mary C. Piemonte

Is the Chicago Housing Authority sitting on vacant units that could be going to needy families?

Housing advocates recently took the CHA to task for failing to lease all of its available units. The CHA, however, recently boasted of winning an award from the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development for having a 98 percent occupancy rate for its senior, mixed-income and family housing portfolios.

CHA has more than 9,200 apartments in buildings designated for seniors and over 11,400 units in family developments and scattered sites, and also administers 37,000 Housing Choice Vouchers. But the Chicago Housing Initiative, a coalition of seven community-based organizations working to preserve low-income housing, recently told the CHA Board that the agency is manipulating its numbers to make it seem as if more of these units are leased than actually are occupied.
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Ex-Offenders Strive For Better

by Mary C. Piemonte 

William Harper (second from left), vice president of Meyer’s Corporation, poses with ex-offenders he hired, along with CHA Altgeld Gardens Local Advisory Council President Bernadette Williams (third from left), Altgeld Gardens tenant Cheryl Johnson (fourth from right), president of People for Community Recovery, and CHA Senior Central Local Advisory President Martha Marshall (third from right), one of the first CHA tenants who established her own business, after the CHA Board of Commissioners meeting on October 18, 2011. Photo by Mary C. Piemonte

There is a decades old myth that Black men just don’t want to work. But William Harper, a tenant of the Altgeld Gardens public housing development on the far South Side of the city, has many examples that dispel that myth.
Harper is founder and vice president of Meyer’s Corporation, which provides general contracting services such as dry walling, painting, sub-frame, roofing, landscaping and snow removal.

Harper has been in business since January 2008 in the Altgeld public housing community, he told Residents’ Journal after the Oct. 18 CHA Board of Commissioners meeting at the Vivian Gordon Senior Apartments, 4227 S. Oakenwald St. Within that last year alone, Harper said he has hired over 59 African American men ex-offenders but added that he is having a difficult time in getting paid by the CHA’s private Management Company HJ Russell for some completed work, and had to lay off some of his employees.

“I was unable to keep all employed because of the lack of work I am receiving,” he said.
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Special Investigation: CHA Still Wants Kids’ Report Cards

by Mary C. Piemonte 

Myra King, chairman of the tenants’ Central Advisory Council, telling CHA officials that their desire to have residents’ kids reports cards was “unfair and discriminatory” and that the she and other tenants would “refuse” to sign the release documents for CPS to turn them over to the CHA, during the public hearing on proposed amendments to the CHA Admissions and Continued Occupancy Policy, at the Charles A. Hayes Family Investment Center, on March 29, 2010. Photo by Mary C. Piemonte


Tenant leaders are threatening to haul the Chicago Housing Authority into court as the agency continues to demand that parents turn over their kids’ school report cards. Robert Whitfield, the attorney representing resident leaders, is advising tenants that the CHA does not have the right to require them to turn over their report cards or face eviction.

“I find nothing in the CHA Residential Lease which would allow CHA and or CHA property managers to evict a resident who refused to provide school documents,” wrote Whitfield in a Sept. 29 e-mail to CHA General Counsel Scott Ammarell. “CHA now intends to impose yet another requirement that will not apply to any other children anywhere in the City of Chicago. And this is supposed to be consistent with CHA’s often stated goal of seeing that CHA residents are not treated differently from other Chicago citizens?”
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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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