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Some Lathrop Kids Get a Bus, But Not All

by Mary C. Piemonte 

Students from CHA's Lathrop Homes who transferred to Fredrick Jahn Elementary School now have a bus to help them trek the long distance there. Photo by Mary C. Piemonte

Students from the Lathrop Homes Chicago public housing complex now attending an elementary school some 10 blocks away recently got a bus their parents were fighting for – but some of their neighbors are still forced to walk.

The bus started taking kindergarten to eighth grade students from Lathrop to Jahn Elementary School a few weeks ago. The students started going to Jahn School after Schneider Elementary School, located inside the Lathrop development, closed this past June. Parents claimed Schneider closed due to a decrease in enrollment, which was caused by the Chicago Housing Authority’s relocation of families from Lathrop.
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Is CHA Holding Vacant Apartments?

by Mary C. Piemonte 

Leah Levinger, coalition coordinator for the Chicago Housing Initiative, talking to reporters about the huge vacancy rate at public housing sites, before the CHA Board meeting at Lathrop Homes on September 20, 2011. Photo by Mary C. Piemonte

Is the Chicago Housing Authority sitting on vacant units that could be going to needy families?

Housing advocates recently took the CHA to task for failing to lease all of its available units. The CHA, however, recently boasted of winning an award from the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development for having a 98 percent occupancy rate for its senior, mixed-income and family housing portfolios.

CHA has more than 9,200 apartments in buildings designated for seniors and over 11,400 units in family developments and scattered sites, and also administers 37,000 Housing Choice Vouchers. But the Chicago Housing Initiative, a coalition of seven community-based organizations working to preserve low-income housing, recently told the CHA Board that the agency is manipulating its numbers to make it seem as if more of these units are leased than actually are occupied.
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CHA Board Meeting Crashed with Concerns

by Mary C. Piemonte 

Tenants and their advocates from the historic Julia C. Lathrop Homes, along with residents of the Cabrini-Green Rowhouses and some ex-offenders demanding better hiring practices from contractors, crashed the Chicago Housing Authority’s public board meeting March 15at the Seward Park Fieldhouse, 900 N. Hudson Ave.

In the jam-packed gym, the tenants and their advocates stood along the walls holding signs and shouting slogans against the CHA’s plans to demolish the Lathrop Homes public housing site. Other protestors aligned themselves on the opposite side of the room with video equipment to tape the meeting.

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Lathrop Residents Want Vacant Units Occupied

by Mary C. Piemonte 

Residents of the Lathrop Homes public housing community and their advocates marched through their community recently to get the Chicago Housing Authority to open up the large number of vacant units in the development to people in need of affordable housing.

Cathy Johnson, a homeless mother of four, urging the CHA to have compassion on the homeless and open vacant units to those in need during a protest and rally at the Lathrop Homes in October 2008.
Photo by Mary C. Johns

“Keeping these units empty, in the midst of a housing crisis, is a terrible waste,” declared Cynthia Scott, a member of the Lathrop Leadership Team, during the press conference that followed the Oct. 23 march and rally.
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Lathrop Homes Targeted for Redevelopment

by Mary C. Piemonte 

Lathrop Homes is the future site of a new mixed income community along the Chicago River, according to the CHA Board approved FY2008 Moving To Work Annual Plan.

Redevelopment plans of Lathrop Homes calls for a total of 1,200 units, divided equally into public housing units, affordable units, and market-rate units, according to the MTW plan.

The MTW plan also states that the , “CHA intends to negotiate a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Illinois State Historic Preservation Office, convene working group meetings, and finalize a request for proposal for the redevelopment of Lathrop Homes in accordance with the MOA provisions,” sometime in 2008.
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Lathrop Homes News

by Bobby Watkins 

On Wednesday, April 9, residents of Lathrop Homes experienced a major power outage which shut down electricity throughout the whole development and shut down most offices. Residents had lights out for days. U.S. Dwellings, the management company for Lathrop, put an emergency plan into effect. Lending a hand were Commonwealth Edison along with CHA representatives from headquarters.

They walked around the development to determine what had caused the problem. Management’s janitorial staff worked late into the night to be of whatever assistance they to could to residents. They were knocking on doors and checking on those known to have oxygen tanks or any illness that might require immediate attention as a result of the blackout. Read more »

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Who Speaks for Public Housing Residents?

by Bobby Watkins 

The Coalition to Protect Public Housing has been around for years. When it was first started in 1996, residents at Lathrop Homes, where I live, and other developments didn’t hear about it that much, except for maybe when there was a particularly interesting monthly meeting at First Congregational Church on Ashland Avenue and Washington Boulevard.

We also heard about the Coalition when it was around the Juneteenth Day rally. For their Juneteenth Day rallies, the Coalition would distribute fliers to the Local Advisory Councils and the management offices. Read more »

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Lathrop News

by Bobby Watkins 

On April 17, there was a march to stop the violence in Lathrop Homes. The march took off from the Cotter Boys and Girls Club.

In attendance were members of the Cotter Club as well as staff along with Local Advisory Council members as well as the CHA Service Connectors, members of the Tenant Patrol and staff of the DePaul University Urban Systems of Care, members of Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy and officers of the 19th District.

There could and should have been more residents of the community involved, especially since a young man was killed in the community a couple of weeks before the march. There have been reports of gunfire being heard in the development and the summer hasn’t even started yet. Let’s hope this march is the beginning of many such events to help the residents and, most of all, our children to have a safe and violent-free summer in all developments, not just Lathrop Homes. Our children deserve to be in a safe environment. Read more »

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Lathrop Homes Private Management

by Bobby Watkins 

It’s been two years almost since private management began to run family and senior housing. So, as it is time for these companies to bid on their contracts again, I thought, ‘Why not talk with the residents as well as the managers and see what grades they give them.’

I also wanted to see how management rates themselves. So I went into the developments and spoke with both. They got some reports of praise as well as some criticism. I also felt management did a good job the way they answered the questions that were put to them that came from residents as well as myself – speaking on how they operate in the development and how they would like to continue to operate. Let’s hear what everyone had to say.
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Productive Men of the CHA

by Bobby Watkins 

Robert is the newly elected Local Advisory Council vice president in Lathrop Homes. Robert has been involved in the community for the past 5 years and has been a member of the tenant patrol in the 26th Ward. He also serves as the area president where he lives and is involved with the 19th District Community Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS) as well as the summer food program.

Presently, he is assisting residents who have to move. He feels very strongly about the work he does in the community and hopes to be of service to relocating residents with his own moving business. Davidson feels he is part of the team to make things better in his development and says his cause is to fight to make things better and help to make this relocation go smoothly. Read more »
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