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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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The Altgeld Gardens Farmers Market: A Personal Perspective

by Manquaze Allen 

Step through this door to visit Altgeld Gardens’ new farmers market. Photo by Manquaze Allen.

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.

Marguerite Jacobs is the founder of Altgeld Gardens’ new farmers market located at 939 East 130th Place. Mrs. Jacobs, who happens to be my mother, gets her fresh produce and supplies from Pembroke, Illinois. Vegetables, peanuts and fruit are sold at the market for a low price. The food is freshly grown, so there are no chemicals in her vegetables and fruit. Here are a few items that Mrs. Jacobs sells: potatoes, onions, peppers, oranges, carrots and much more.

“Altgeld is a food dessert community. I feel that the younger kids are exposed to so much fat foods and not enough healthy products. The farmers market will give the kids good choices to eat,” said Mrs. Jacobs. She spent much of the time preparing to open the market at Altgeld in June of 2012. Now she is selling her produce and in 10 months her goal is to start selling meat.

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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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Winners from the Resident Survey!

by Ethan Michaeli, Publisher 

generic cialis2 pic of Ethan Myra King and winners of survery-1″ src=”http://wethepeoplemedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Marys-8-8-12-pic-of-Ethan-Myra-King-and-winners-of-survery-12-768×1024.jpg” alt=”" width=”377″ height=”502″ /> Central Advisory Council President Myra King (center) congratulates Mable L. Carter (left) and Deborah Thigpen (right), winners of the random drawing for the 2012 Resident Survey. We The People Media Executive Director Ethan Michaeli stands in the background. Photo by Mary C. Piemonte.

The 2012 Resident Survey of Chicago public housing tenants conducted by We The People Media received an unprecedented response – more than 500 residents provided their opinions on a range of issues. Among other findings, residents strongly oppose term limits, a policy which is being tried by a small number of public housing agencies in other part of the country. Residents also showed strong opposition to expanded drug testing but were highly enthusiastic about initiatives that offer training and employment.

The Resident Survey was conducted both on-line and in print from May 7 through June 1. The Central Advisory Council commissioned the survey from We The People Media and Local Advisory Councils in Oakwood Shores, Cabrini-Green Row Houses, Dearborn Homes, Princeton Park, Altgeld Gardens, Lathrop Homes, Trumbull Park, Lowden Homes, Wentworth Gardens, ABLA Homes, West Haven Homes, Washington Park Homes, Scattered Sites and senior buildings throughout the South, West and North sides assisted with distribution and collection of the print version.

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