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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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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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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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Resident Survey Ends June 1!!! Click This Link Today!

by Ethan Michaeli, Publisher 

 

Attention Attention

Calling All CHA Residents and Former Residents,

Please follow the link below and fill out the following Survey. This Survey will help Resident Leaders negotiate with city officials to make sure the Plan for Transformation 2.0 truly works for all Chicago families.
http://www.surveymethods.com/EndUser.aspx?9BBFD3CA9ADCCBCE90

Everyone who fills out the survey will qualify to win a laptop computer or a $250 gift card. Feel free to share the link with anyone you know. Anyone who fills out the survey is eligible to win the prizes. ACT SOON, the survey closes June 1.

The Survey is sponsored by We The People Media, the nonprofit publishers of Residents’ Journal, working with the elected leaders of public housing families. You can find out more about We The People Media at wethepeoplemedia.org

Please call the Central Advisory Council at (312) 913-7828 with any questions or concerns!

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New Calendar For Public Housing Tenants

by Ethan Michaeli, Publisher 

There are more than 51,000 families in Chicago’s public housing system, including households in the traditional family style developments like Altgeld Gardens, Lowden Homes and Bridgeport Homes, as well as senior buildings and tens of thousands of families who rent in the private market using Housing Choice Vouchers (formerly known as Section 8 vouchers). All of these residents are represented by the Central Advisory Council, an elected body of tenant leaders who negotiate on tenants’ behalf with the Chicago Housing Authority, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and other government agencies. Recently, the CAC put out its annual calendar, which contains a huge quantity of useful information for tenants, and we are providing the 2012 Tenant Calendar in PDF format, free of charge, for either download or on-line viewing.

The calendar will be essential reading for current tenants as well as for the nearly 100,000 more families who are on waiting lists for CHA units and the Housing Choice Vouchers programs, and the tens of thousands of low-income families who need housing subsidies. The calendar contains answers to questions such as:

How is my Rent Calculated?

How do I save money on Electricity and Gas?

Can I have a Pet?

In a sign of the times, the calendar also has a special section for Housing Choice Voucher holders whose building is in foreclosure, and the names and addresses of every alderman in Chicago.

You can click above or on the following link to get the 2012 Tenant Calendar.

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Cabrini Row House Tenants Prepare to Fight CHA

by Mary C. Piemonte 

Residents and their supporters protest in the Cabrini-Green Row Houses in June 2010. Photo by Mary C. Piemonte.

Tenants of the Cabrini Green Row-Houses are preparing to battle the Chicago Housing Authority for “reneging” on their promise to rehab all remaining units at the North Side public housing complex.

The final high-rise in Cabrini-Green was demolished this past spring, but 534 low-rise units remain in the complex. In 2008, CHA received approval from the federal government to rehab the row houses. However, only 146 units were rehabbed in 2009, leaving 438 units in disrepair, with a great majority left vacant. Only 33 of those are currently occupied, “creating a 92% vacancy rate,” according to the CHA, which announced late last week that it will not continue rehabilitation and will instead boot out the remaining public housing tenants in the non-rehabbed section of the row houses. CHA claimed that “persistent criminal activity” in the area “forces” them to make the tenants relocate elsewhere.

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After The Dust

by Marsha Muhammad 

Young people at the recent reunion for tenants of 5135 S. Federal St., one of the buildings in the now-demolished Robert Taylor Homes development. The reunion was held August 7 in the Dan Ryan Woods. Photo by Marsha Muhammad.

Five years after the last building in the Robert Taylor Homes was demolished, it’s a miracle to locate former residents not only from that development but from anywhere in the Chicago Housing Authority. After years of being displaced by gentrification, we were united on a social network site named Facebook. The best of my former neighbors at Robert Taylor are doing just fine. It may surprise many to see that we are functional people, since we were deemed dysfunctional and self-destructive. But we are alive and still standing! Still standing literally and figuratively.

In the summer of 1998, the first building in the Robert Taylor Homes located at 3901 S. Federal St. was torn down, followed by the cluster buildings on 53rd Street infamously known as the “Hole.” The name derived from the term, “If you come in, you can’t come out.”

Moving out of public housing became a challenge to the majority of former residents. Many families were disenfranchised by a welfare system that cut off their resources if they found employment that increased their income a penny over the poverty level. Residents learned how to survive by manipulating the system. Do just enough to not go homeless and live comfortable, but not enough to move out into the private sector and pay market rent. These residents outnumbered the working-class residents that paid market rent. This system bred generations of families who were taught the same cycle of survival. People rarely moved out. Perhaps the “Hole” should have been the nickname for the entire development.

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Ickes Homes News: The Final Curtain?

by Jacqueline Thompson 

For over two years, Residents’ Journal has been reporting how the Harold Ickes Homes Chicago public housing site was supposed to be rehabbed along with Dearborn Homes, Cabrini Green Rowhouses and the Altgeld Gardens far South Side public housing complex, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) April 2008 Moving to Work Agreement with the Chicago Housing Authority.

In the interim, CHA closed down and demolished most of all the buildings at Ickes, and gave residents the choice to relocate to another CHA-rehabbed property or use a Housing Choice ( Section 8 ) Voucher to rent housing in the private market.

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Memories of R. Taylor

by Reginald Kizer 

Editor’s Note: The following article was written by a youth reporter who is a graduate of the Urban Youth International Journalism Program.

The Robert Taylor Homes, a South Side public housing complex where 27,000 people once lived on 92 acres, was a place where many people had life experiences. Its 4,300 units were home to residents who all were hurt when it was destroyed.

Now, the Robert Taylor Homes are nothing more than a book of memories—just a pile of dirt, bricks and cement. Since the Robert Taylor Homes are gone, the once-drawn-together residents have scattered all over Chicago. Some even went to live in the suburbs.
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