A Third Generation’s Take on Relocation from Last Cabrini Building

by Mary C. Piemonte 

Drawing closer to the end of an era, only one occupied high-rise building remains at the former Cabrini-Green public housing complex, located on the North Side of the city.

This past September, the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) closed the last of the two Cabrini mid-rises, known as the Cabrini Extensions, and relocated all the remaining families.

CHA has promised that the departing families can have an option to return once the property is redeveloped under their massive Transformation Plan.

Few people remained in this last standing Chicago Housing Authority Cabrini-Green building at 1230 N. Burling St., on November 5, 2010. Photo by Mary C. Johns

That same month, the 39 families living at the remaining 1230 N. Burling Street high-building—which, at its peak, held 134 families­­— had received their notices of CHA’s intention to close the high-rise as the end of Cabrini-Green draws closer.

According to the CHA, the 1230 N. Burling building is scheduled to close no later January 15, 2011, “For similar safety reasons” along with the “low occupancy issues and operational concerns,” that closed the Cabrini Home Extensions.

The Extensions were built in 1958 and known for their trademark red-colored brick. At one time, the Extensions were made up of as many as 15 buildings with more than 1,900 units combined. But according to the CHA, “the Extensions began falling into disrepair in the 1970s, about the time the Cabrini development became enveloped by crime and drugs.”

Residents’ Journal spoke to three generations from one family of public housing residents at 1230 N. Burling St. about their thoughts on relocating from Cabrini, while they were in the process of moving this past November 5.

Patricia McClatcaty reminising about life at the Chicago Housing Authority's Cabrini-Green public housing complex, as her young daughters carefully listens, before leaving 1230 N. Burling, the last remaining building there on November 5, 2010. Photo by Mary C. Johns

Patricia McClatcaty, who relocated to the Burling building from another Cabrini building in 630 W. Evergreen in 1998 because her apartment caught fire, said she was happy to be moving, but would miss the Cabrini community and the things she used to do there.

“I’m going to miss it here, because I lived here most of my life and raised my kids here. So right now, I’m going to miss my kids going to school over here and doing a lot of activities. And miss the community meetings and stuff like that. But, I’m grateful and I’m happy to be moving to a new community, and start all over again,” she said.

McClatcaty, the mother of seven­­— six girls and one boy—added that she and her younger children were moving to the South Side with a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher, and hoped to return at some point once redevelopment is done.

“But we’re not guaranteed that we’ll get back here, and probably ain’t nobody going to remember us,” McClatcaty said somberly.

McClatcaty’s 8-year-old daughter Camille said she would miss playing with her friends and attending the neighborhood Jenner Elementary School where she was in third grade.

“I miss my school too. But we’re going to the different school,” she said.

McClatcaty’s 70-year-old mother, who lived in Cabrini for the 43 years, also had melancholy feelings about leaving the place she called home, where she raised her seven now-grown children and some 40 grandchildren.

“Well, I feel sad because I love here. All the stores are right here. I can get up and just walk to the store and bring my bags back. I feel as though when I move out south, I will have to use a car to get most of my food. So that’s one reason why I feel sad about leaving. I love the place where I live at. It’s just got so much view to my back windows. I can just go and look out of any one of the windows. If I get the chance, I will be coming back,” she said.

Patricia McClatcaty's two daughters (front) and 70-year-old mother, talking to Residents' Journal about life at Cabrini-Green and relocating out into the private market on November 5, 2010. Photo by Mary C. Johns

McClatcaty’s 22-year old daughter said the move was a sad occasion for her and that she was going to miss all her friends, who have all already relocated, as well as the close community of neighbors who once live there.

“It’s heartbreaking,” she said. “Because this is my home. This is where I grew up at all my life. Born and raised here. All my friends are scattered around now. We used to just go door-to-door to people’s houses like ‘Where’s my friend at?’ Or they be borrowing this or that. You can’t do none of that no more,” she said, laughing with her little sister.

She added that she didn’t think life in another crime infested area would be any better than at Cabrini where she said she felt “safe.”

“I feel safer here, basically because I know everybody here. This is my ‘hood,” she said.

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2 Responses to “A Third Generation’s Take on Relocation from Last Cabrini Building”

  1. Gabriel Says:

    Wow. Really nicely told. I wish this family all the best in their new place and hope they and their friends get to come back.

  2. mario Says:

    my heart goes out to all the families who had to leave cabrini green.i myself know what its like to have to leave a place were every day for 10 years i called home,raised my 2 daughters and was so happy in my 3rd floor apartment.the owner sold the building and decided to bring his family in my apt.i had to leave.i guess what im trying to say is i know the feeling.i wish every family from the cabrini green the very best of luck. keep the faith and god bless yous all

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