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The New Resident Leadership

by Ethan Michaeli, Publisher 

The Central Advisory Council, the elected leadership of the residents of the Chicago Housing Authority, recently announced the result of its recent election. Pictured here are the following: Francine Washington (bottom right corner, identifications are from right), president of the Washington Park Local Advisory Council and chairman of the Central Advisory Council; Perry Casey, president of the Senior North LAC; Mildred Pagan (off camera), president of the Lathrop LAC; Charmeita Witherspoon (off camera), president of the Lawndale Gardens LAC; Shashak Levi (off camera), president at large of the Robert Taylor ‘B’ LAC; Carole Steele, president of the Cabrini-Green LAC and vice chair of the CAC; Natalie Saffold, president at large of the Leclaire Courts LAC; Charnae Harmon, president of the Henry Horner Homes LAC; Rosemary Coleman, president of the Senior Central LAC; Pauline Wesley, president of the Senior South LAC; Myra King, president of the Trumbull-Lowden LAC; and Beatrice Harris, president of the Wentworth Gardens LAC.

Not pictured: Carol Wallace, president of the Dearborn Homes LAC; Bernadette Williams, president of the Altgeld Gardens LAC; Maria Sopena, president of the Northeast Scattered Site LAC; Annie Davis, president of the ABLA LAC; Maner Jean Wiley, president of the Hilliard Homes LAC; Claudice Ware, president at large of the Ida B. Wells LAC; Mary Baldwin, president at large of the Rockwell Gardens LAC; Mildred Dennis, president at large of the Robert Taylor ‘B’ LAC.

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CHA Chiefs Come and Go as Plan Stalls

by Mary C. Piemonte 

 

New CHA CEO Michael Merchant at a Nov. 19 CHA Board meeting in the ABLA Homes public housing development. Photo by Mary C. Piemonte.

Michael Merchant, previously the city’s buildings commissioner, recently became the fifth CHA CEO since the inception of the Plan for Transformation, a multi-billion dollar effort to overhaul and redevelop family and senior public housing stock into mixed-income communities that began in 2000 and is now projected to conclude in 2015.

Merchant told RJ after the Nov. 19 CHA Board meeting at the Fosco Park Field house in the ABLA public housing complex that he was confident he would complete the Plan during his tenure.

“I have every intention of being here to finish out the Plan,” Merchant said. “With respect to the fact that there has been turnover in this position, there’s still consistency within the staff, consistency with what the mission is, and what the goal is. Our goal is to make sure that we have vibrant communities and safe and affordable housing. So, I’m here to push full forward.”

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Remembering ABLA Homes’ Deverra Beverly

by Mary C. Piemonte 

Deverra Beverly, longtime president of the ABLA Homes public housing development. Photo courtesy of the National Public Housing Museum.

Deverra Beverly, a Chicago Housing Authority commissioner and long-time president of the resident council at the ABLA Homes public housing development on the West Side, died November 9, 2013.

CHA Officials Honor Statement about Beverly

Beverly was appointed to the CHA Board of Commissioners by former Mayor Richard M. Daley on July 22, 2009.

A life-long public servant, she held numerous resident leadership positions prior to her appointment, including president of ABLA Homes’ Local Advisory Council, vice chair of the Central Advisory Council from 2002 to 2008, interim CAC chair from 2008 to 2009, and treasurer in 2009.

In an email to Residents’ Journal, a CHA press statement recalled that Beverly also worked for the City’s Department of Human Services for 30 years and received “countless awards in recognition of her efforts to improve the quality of life in public housing.”

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Another CHA Chief Bows Out

by Mary C. Piemonte 

CHA CEO Charles Woodyard listening to residents’ comments at a CHA Tenant Services meeting on August 8, 2012. Photo by Mary C. Piemonte.

For the second time in two years, a Chicago Housing Authority chief announced his resignation even as the agency’s multi-billion dollar plan to redevelop its family and senior public housing remains incomplete.

In June 2011, a month after Mayor Rahm Emanuel was inaugurated into office, Lewis Jordan resigned from his 4-year tenure as CHA chief while city officials investigated his and others’ alleged misuse of CHA credit cards to purchase dinners at expensive restaurants and pay for red light tickets, among other items. 

Now Charles Woodyard, former CEO of the Charlotte Housing Authority in North Carolina, who was appointed CHA chief by Emanuel in September 2011 to replace Jordan, is calling it quits as relocated residents continue to wait to return to replacement housing in mixed-income communities.

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Oakwood Shores Update

by Jacqueline Thompson 

Construction at Oakwood Shores. Photo by Jacqueline Thompson.

The Chicago Housing Authority’s Plan for Transformation is showing up in a BIG way on the grounds that used to be the Ida B. Wells Homes public housing development. There is even a new name assigned to the area, Oakwood Shores, yet to some people, the area will always have a tag – that’s where the Ida B. Wells Homes used to be. But never mind that, the Plan has erased the old worn buildings with more thoughtfully built accommodations. For instance, the fabulous new senior citizen building at 3750 S. Cottage Grove Avenue which opened in the fall of 2011, complete with solar panels and an interior solarium for in-door/out-door visiting with easy chair seating, is a work of art in terms of its interior design.

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We The People Media in the News

by Ethan Michaeli, Publisher 

We The People Media Executive Director Ethan Michaeli appeared recently on CAN TV’s “Chicago Newsroom,” with guest host and WBEZ reporter Natalie Moore as well as Britt Julious, WBEZ blogger, and Achy Obejas, an award-winning author and also a WBEZ blogger. They discussed the state of public housing and Chicago’s neglected neighborhoods.

Click here to watch.

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A Protest Success Story

by Alicia Jacobs 

Alicia Jacobs and a fellow resident of the Altgeld Gardens public housing development on the South Side pose during a successful protest of a local food store. Photo by Alicia Jacobs.

Editor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in our Urban Youth International Journalism Program, which is generously funded by the McCormick Foundation.

This is a story of a protest that helped a community. Could you imagine being outside for more than nine hours a day in dangerously cold temperatures, standing up and fighting for a change? Could you be a part of a boycott, just like your older relatives have done in the civil rights days?

Occupy Altgeld is a group of concerned residents who live in the Altgeld Gardens public housing development on the far South Side who decided to address problems that many residents saw but couldn’t seem to change on their own. These residents felt the food prices of Rosebud Farm were too high. Rosebud Farm is the only grocery store in the area surrounding Altgeld where residents can purchase food.

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Tenants Protest CHA’s Plans for Lathrop

by Mary C. Piemonte 

A protestor in the Lathrop Homes objects to all three redevelopment ideas proposed by the Chicago Housing Authority Nov. 15. Photo by Mary C. Piemonte.

Tenants and their advocates protested the Chicago Housing Authority’s redevelopment plans for the Lathrop Homes public housing site on the North Side, which is slated for demolition and replacement by a mixed-income community consisting of an array of for-sale, affordable rental and public housing apartments.
On Nov. 15, CHA held an open house inside the New Life Community Church, 2958 N. Damen Ave., to present three concepts for the Lathrop redevelopment and pose questions to Lathrop Community Partners, the development team selected to help revitalize the 32-acre public housing site that was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2012.
But outside the church, members of the Lathrop Leadership Team – composed of tenants and their advocates – declared that developer’s plans “three dense scenarios, and one destructive idea.” Some of the protestors held signs ridiculing the three concepts; one sign featured a picture of the Three Stooges television characters, to whom the three concepts were compared.

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We The People Media in the News

by Ethan Michaeli, Publisher 

On September 27, Executive Director Ethan Michaeli spoke on WBEZ’s “The Afternoon Shift” hosted by Rick Kogan with Republican consultant Chris Roebling and WBEZ political reporter Alex Keefe to discuss the state of the electorate – undecided voters, uninformed voters and turn-out during a presidential campaign. Click here to listen to the report.
The next day, Ethan was the guest of Ken Davis’ “Chicago Newsroom” over the CAN TV network discussing the state of Chicago public housing with WBEZ FM South Side Bureau Chief Natalie Moore.

 

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CAC Releases Vision for the Future

by Ethan Michaeli, Publisher 

September 12, 2012 -Elected leaders of Chicago’s public housing families today issued the 2012 Strategies and Recommendations Report, a comprehensive vision for the future that would see the city provide quality housing to many more low-income families who need it in these tough economic times.

Twelve years after the Plan for Transformation for the Chicago Housing Authority was launched by Mayor Richard M. Daley, much work remains to be done. All of the city’s public housing high-rises for families have been demolished and a small number of mixed-finance communities have been built, but large tracts of land across the South and West sides remain vacant, awaiting a new vision that will deal with the realities of the current housing market. CHA remains the landlord, meanwhile, for more than 130,000 people in low-rise family developments, senior citizen high-rises and private apartments rented through the Housing Choice Voucher program.

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