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CHA Launches Initiative to House Women Ex-Offenders

by Mary C. Piemonte 

Ex-offenders rights advocate Willie J.R. Fleming commends CHA Board members during a recent meeting to discuss creating housijg for women ex-offenders. Photo by Mary C. Piemonte.

Women ex-offenders who formally lived in Chicago public housing will get a second chance to get supportive housing under a plan announced this week by the Chicago Housing Authority Board of Commissioners.

At their Aug. 16 public meeting at the Savoy Square Community Center, 4448 S. State St., the CHA Board authorized interim Chief Executive Officer Carlos Ponce to contract with the Viceroy Apartments on the Near West Side to set aside 17 units of subsidized housing for formerly incarcerated women who once lived in public housing.

The Viceroy Apartments is a six-story brick hotel that was constructed in the 1920s and is located at 1519 W. Warren Blvd. Heartland Housing is redeveloping the structure to include historic preservation of the façade and a total rehab of the interior and its 89 studio apartments, according to an Aug. 10 letter from CHA staff to the board that was e-mailed to Residents’ Journal. The letter indicates that 72 units in the building will for homeless women or those at risk of being homeless. The CHA waiting list will be the primary source of referrals for these 72 units. The remaining 17 units will be master-leased to St. Leonard’s Ministries to provide permanent supportive housing to women ex-offenders. The City of Chicago is donating the property, while Low Income Housing Tax Credits, Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) funds and other sources will be used to complete the rehab. Rent will be set at approximately $685 per month.

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Stop the Violence

by Cenabeth Cross 

I discovered an organization that is providing employment services for people who need it badly. The Michael Barlow Center on Chicago’s West Side is helping ex-offenders find jobs and places to live. The Barlow Center, which was dedicated on April 22, 2005, is a part of St. Leonard’s Ministries, located at 2120 West Warren Blvd.

St. Leonard’s Ministries helps inmates, women and men, with a place to stay, training and support as they re-enter society. They help ex-offenders to rebuild their lives and get a chance to make a buck. With the Barlow Center, they are expanding their services by opening new programs, including two new buildings where the residents will live and learn. One is a five-story high building where the residents will sleep. I learned this by taking a tour of the facilities after my interviews.
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Rush vs. Jackson

by Beauty Turner Assistant Editor

On March 21, the voters of the First Congressional District in Illinois will have a choice between their longtime incumbent Congressman, Bobby Rush, and former Chicago Housing Authority CEO and director of the Black Star Project Phillip Jackson. RJ decided to interview the two candidates.

Former CHA CEO Phillip Jackson, top, is challenging U.S. Congressman Bobby Rush (D-1) for his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Photos by Beatuy Turner

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Ex Marks The Spot

by Beauty Turner Assistant Editor

Like a slave master’s bull whip marking up the back of a slave, an invisible X marks the back of an ex-offender from the inside out, advocates claim, leaving many of them in pain and without a leg to stand on.

Ex-offenders expressed to me that once they are released from the controlled environment of prison into an uncontrolled society that doesn’t embrace them as human beings, they feel left out and lost. They feel as if they don’t exist.
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Sixth District Race Makes History

by Beauty Turner Assistant Editor

For perhaps the first time in this country’s history, an ex-offender, who was recently pardoned after 17 years on death row, is challenging the powers that be and running for a state political office.

Aaron Patterson is the challenger against state Rep. Patricia Bailey (D-6), who is also a probation officer. Many people are wondering who will lock down the 6th District seat.

To many of the people, this is an historic event.
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Second Chance Legislation

by Wateka Kleinpeter 

A group of Illinois legislators believe that people who have had a brush with the law should be allowed a second chance.

Ill. Rep. Constance A. Howard (D-Chicago) was victorious on April 5 when House Bill 300 passed with very little opposition. Howard’s proposed legislation would allow the automatic elimination or expungement – of certain charges from one’s criminal background history. Expungement would erase some negative information that is held against an individual. If passed, the bill would amend the current Criminal Identification Act.

According to Howard and U.S. Rep. Davis K. Davis (D-7), the bill would allow people with negative background information a “second chance” to get a job and get their lives back on track. Read more »

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