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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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The CHA Plan Is Dead

by Ethan Michaeli, Publisher 

Janice Patton gave up on the Plan for Transformation a long time ago. Patton moved out of Robert Taylor Homes in 2000, the same year Mayor Richard M. Daley announced the Plan. The mayor promised that residents who moved out temporarily could return shortly, after the high-rises were demolished and replaced with new, ‘mixed-income’ communities. Patton didn’t go too far from Robert Taylor, settling in the neighborhood just south of where the development stood. Like most of those who moved out, she used a Section 8 certificate – now known as Housing Choice Voucher – to subsidize her rent in a relatively well-managed, new construction development. Unlike many of her former neighbors, Patton never expected to come back.

“I left it and kept on going,” she explained. “I thought, ‘Let me get into a good building so I don’t have to move from place to place.’”
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Harold Ickes Homes Update

by Jacqueline Thompson 

The Harold Ickes public housing development is one of the last to go through change under the Chicago Housing Authority’s Plan for Transformation, now in its 10th year. All around the city, renovation and rehabilitation has brightened up the city’s neighborhoods. New architecture both outside and inside has replaced decades-old buildings with outdated floor plans and replacement housing for residents of CHA who are eligible for the Right to Return. As a long-time resident of Ickes, the most often question I am asked is, “What are ‘they’ going to do with Ickes?” And further, “Are ‘they’ going to tear down, rehabilitate or redevelop?” My answer is, “I don’t know.” I have inquired of persons in high places, and so far, the latest answer has been, “Nothing has been determined yet.” That was from Matthew Aguilar, CHA spokesperson. Aguilar did promise to inquire further and get back to me. I wait patiently.

I tried to check with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). HUD published that “Harold Ickes was not subject to demolition.” But I was unable to speak directly to anyone. Even after many referrals from one individual to another, I still couldn’t get an answer. I wait patiently. As I continued to wait, I was drawn to CHA document FY2009, Moving to Work Annual Plan for Transformation Year 10. In it, on page 55, I found that Harold Ickes comes under the “Properties to be Redeveloped or Rehabilitated” section:
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CHA’s Safe Harbor Gets Bigger

by Mary C. Piemonte 

In January and February, the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) Board approved important changes to its work rules for tenants and to the Plan for Transformation.

The Work Requirement Policy Changes
At a special CHA Board meeting at the agency’s downtown headquarters on Jan. 14, directors approved changes to the work requirement policy for its residents. CHA clarified which residents can take advantage of ‘Safe Harbor,’ the policy which allows residents under certain circumstances to be exempt from the rules which state they have work or be in an educational program. First, CHA decided that a person does not have to meet the work rules if they are caring for “a victim of violence, including but not limited to domestic violence, sexual violence, dating violence and stalking.” CHA also lengthened the amount of time that volunteer or community service hours can count towards 50 percent of the requirement for hours they must work or be in an educational program. In the past, these volunteer activities could count for two years. Now they count for three years. The CHA also removed the work requirement for “the primary caretaker of a child(ren) under age 13 in households with two or more adults; One adult working exempts one other adult from work to care for a child(ren) under age 13.”
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Residents Blame CHA for School Closures

by Mary C. Piemonte 

Attendance is low in our community because redevelopment is slow,” declared William Fleming, a resident of the Cabrini-Green pubic housing complex, to members of the Chicago Board of Education on Feb. 25. Fleming’s daughter attends Schiller Elementary School, 640 W. Scott St. Next school year, Schiller will be consolidated because of low enrollment. It will cease to exist and students will be re-enrolled into Jenner Elementary, 1119 N. Cleveland Ave.

William Fleming, a resident fo the Cabrini-Green public housing complex, testifying at the Chicago Board of Education hearings on school closures in February 2009. Fleming expressed concerns about the possibility of overcrowding that could result from relocating Schiller Elementary School students into a nearby school.
Photo by Mary C. Johns

Fleming was among many voices addressing school officials over the changes to the school system. He and other public housing residents blamed the Chicago Housing Authority’s (CHA) Plan for Transformation for the closings, turnarounds, consolidations and phase outs of 16 public schools in predominantly African American and Latino low-income neighborhoods. “In Cabrini-Green, we have a right to return, a federal right to return,” Fleming said. “Over 600 [public housing] units will be built within the next 18 months with the minimal bedroom size being three for Chicago school children between K and eighth [grade],” he added.
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CHA Seniors Keep Waiting to Return Home

by Mary C. Piemonte 

A Residents’ Journal investigation has found that renovation of three public housing buildings for senior citizens is years overdue, despite previous proclamations from the Chicago Housing Authority that all of its senior buildings have been rehabbed.

Former CHA Bud Britton senior residents Josef Plagov (from left), Wanda Marshall and Judy Backstrom.
Photo by Mary C. Johns

Elderly public housing residents who were relocated from the CHA senior buildings are eagerly waiting to return to their former homes.
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