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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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Why It’s So Hard to End Poverty

by Mary C. Piemonte 

Anti-poverty activist and scholar Peter Edelman during a recent lecture at Northwestern University Law School sponsored by the National Public Housing Museum. Photo by Mary C. Piemonte.

It will take “a national groundswell of concern if we are going to make the progress we need on poverty,” said Georgetown Law Center Professor and author Peter Edelman during a lecture hosted by the National Public Housing Museum at Northwestern University Law School, 375 E. Chicago Ave., on October 10. Discussing the “growing chasm between America’s wealthy and poor,” Edelman said that “America has the highest poverty rate in the industrialized world,” with 46 million people living below the poverty line, a situation that could cause problems in the future. “Our democracy is in danger,” he said.
Edelman, faculty director at the Center on Poverty, Inequality and Public Policy in Washington, D.C., is an antipoverty advocate and former legislative aide to U.S. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy who served as Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services under the Clinton administration but resigned from his position to protest President Clinton’s support of welfare reform. The free public lecture, based on Edleman’s latest book, “So Rich, So Poor: Why it’s So Hard to End Poverty in America,” was part of the National Public Housing Museum’s “Profiles in Color: Race, Place and Identity Series” funded by the Ford Foundation and the Boeing company. Read more »

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An Afternoon of Good Times

by Jacqueline Thompson 

The second annual National Public Housing Museum fundraiser, billed “An Afternoon of Good Times,” was attended by a sold-out crowd of cheering guests, eager to applaud the hard-working hosts and their choice of honorees, former public housing resident luminaries and their achievements. The welcome address by Chicago Housing Authority officials Joyce Chou and Scott Ammaral was a smooth take-off into an illuminating program.

Next, Ald. Walter Burnett (21) graciously introduced Bern Nadette Stanis aka “Thelma” from the popular 1970s television sit-com “Good Times,” which brought Chicago’s own Cabrini Green public housing development into focus nationwide. She is the national spokesperson for the museum and was the mistress of ceremonies for the event. Stanis’ background includes a past of actually living in the Brownsville Housing Development in Brooklyn, N.Y.

CHA tenant leader Francine Washington (right) is joined with actress Bern Nadette Stanis, also known as "Thelma" on the "Good Times" television sitcom, and Keith McGee, director of the National Public Housing Museum, after receiving an award from the museum during their "An Afternoon of Good Times" event at the Chicago Cultural Center on April 10, 2011. Photo by Jacqueline Thompson

As a part of the afternoon’s theme honoring former residents through the “Telling Our Stories” Award, she shared with the audience the important message from her father that gave her the confidence to grow naturally, by understanding that, “What’s around you does not have to be in you.” The sound inspiration coming from within her home life gave her strength and courage “to do better than what ‘they’ said my future could only be. Thank you.”

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Three Chicago Mayoral Candidates’ Take on Public Housing

by Mary C. Piemonte 

In this news video, three of the four candidates who participated in the Chicago Mayoral Forum on Education at Walter Payton College Prep High School on December 15, 2010, talked to Residents’ Journal after the event about their plans for public housing, if elected next year. Pastor and state Sen. James Meeks said, “We need to make them better.”

Former Ambassador and US Sen. Carol Moseley-Braun said, “I believe we should stop tearing them down,” and cited the still-standing Lathrop Homes development on the North Side as an example of a development that should be made into environmentally sound, “green” housing.

“We can provide both public housing and public safety without running (residents) out to the suburbs or forcing them to go hunting for someplace to live,” Moseley-Braun said.

City Clerk Miguel Del Valle said, “We need more affordable housing in Chicago.” Del Valle emphasized that the Chicago Housing Authority’s current plans to redevelop Lathrop Homes do not provide enough affordable housing. “The foreclosure crisis has hit us very hard.”

The future of Chicago’s public housing will continue to be in front of the mayoral candidates all through the election.

The National Public Housing Museum recently announced that in January, they are inviting the mayoral candidates to participate in a “Conversation on Public Housing in Chicago.”

The discussion will take place January 11 from 5 pm to 7 pm at the Chicago Cultural Center. Public housing residents and media figures will have the opportunity to question each of the candidates to learn how they will “ensure public housing to be a significant part of their agenda,” if elected.

In a press release, National Public Housing Museum Executive Director Keith L. Magee stated, “It is essential for the residents of Chicago to know exactly how the incoming Mayor will handle this delicate and important topic.”

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An Inside Out Experience

by Mary C. Piemonte 

With a deadline fast approaching, organizers of the National Public Housing Museum and Education Center are working hard to raise funds and generate support to make the museum a reality. But if one open house held earlier this spring is an indication, the museum already has the support of former and current residents of the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA).

Museum officials held the event at 1322-24 W. Taylor St., the last building standing that was built in the 1930s as part of the now-demolished Jane Adams Homes, part of the ABLA Homes complex. Through a series of audio and visual installations in the vacant three-story building to be transformed into the museum, the many spectators went from room to room on the first and second floors to get a glimpse of how life was then and now for public housing residents.
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