Operation ABLE

by Lorenzia Shelby 

I‘d like to inform the readers of an organization that states that it helps seniors, people with disabilities and others find part-time work and training in many Chicago locations, with some offices a few blocks away from CHA developments.

Operation ABLE is a non-profit organization that was founded in 1977, according to their 1998/1999annual report. “Operation ABLE was created by the Chicago Community Trust Organization with a staff of three, a budget of $47,500 and a vision of helping workers 55 years of age and older find employment opportunities.”

The group serves seniors, people with disabilities and others by providing them with employment and training. “Operation ABLE (Ability Based on Long Experience) became known as an advocate for the older workers. In 1990, Operation ABLE revised its mission statement to include services to individuals of all ages, while maintaining its original emphasis on serving the unique needs of the older worker.” Read more »

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Choosing Between Food and Medicine

by Bobby Watkins 

This is something that has been on my mind for some time. I am one of the millions of Americans that has to deal with the problem of not being able to afford some of my medicines.

I’ve spoken with several other people who are struggling with this also. But what really made me want to write this article was a young woman I spoke with. She is a single parent receiving Supplemental Security Income with a kidney problem. She just started to take dialysis and needs this particular medicine before she starts her dialysis treatment. The medicine is needed to make her numb before treatment. She has Medicaid but it does not cover this medicine, or so she was told. Read more »
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Stop The Violence

by Cenabeth Cross 

On Sept. 11, all hell broke loose. I saw the hijacked planes crash into the World Trade Center and saw the buildings crumble on television as it happened along with millions of other viewers. I stared at my set for a long, long time before I understood that this was for real. Thousands had lost their lives in the two World Trade Centers alone.

I watched the same pictures over and over feeling the horror of what this could mean to us all. These attacks will force people to make many adjustments in the way we live and the way we think.
Read more »
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Remembering Leroy Watkins

by Bobby Watkins 

On Sept. 31, former residents of Robert Taylor Homes came out to remember the late Leroy Watkins, who also happened to be my uncle.

One young man, Eric Guy, described Leroy as a valuable member of the community. He was always thinking of others, especially the young people. Leroy moved his family into the Robert Taylor Homes building at 4555 S. Federal St. in April 1962.

Residents remember Leroy as someone who was always willing to lend a helping hand and opening his door to others. He organized a little league team called the Twins for the young men of the development. Later, he formed softball teams called the Invaders and Invaderettes to keep the teenage boys and girls of the development out of trouble. Read more »

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A Section 8 Recipient’s Painful Reality

by Angela Hilton 

When I was a kid growing up in the Robert Taylor Housing Projects, my dream was that one day my family would get a Section 8 and we would be able to move into a nice apartment in a much better neighborhood. It was my mom’s dream too, that someday she would be able to move her family out of the projects.

Long after I grew up and moved out on my own, my mother was finally given the chance to realize at least part of this dream.

The demolition of Robert Taylor meant that after 25 years of living in the projects and raising five kids, she would be given a Section 8 voucher to find a better place to live. Read more »

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Residents Look to the Hills

by Jacqueline Thompson 

The residents of the Harold L. Ickes Homes are seeking stability with nowhere to find it. The list of imbalances is lengthening daily. It seems like it would be a simple matter to dry up the ever-present body of water that floats like a moat in front of all the ‘double-T’ buildings and never goes away. At 23rd Street along the fire lane, the moat is deep enough and permanent enough to actually grow a microscopic form of seaweed. Seagulls wake you every morning and wade in search of bugs.

This past July and August, the moat made a great bed for hatching mosquito eggs, perhaps even the dreaded West Nile virus-carrying mosquito. How can we tell? The risk of the children getting hit by the insect is high. But apparently, nobody cares.
Read more »

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A Savory Survey

by Beauty Turner Assistant Editor

Susan Popkin and Mary K. Cunningham from the Urban Institute released a study this summer on 190 residents of public housing who were supposed to be relocated. The study’s results should be important for understanding the CHA Transformation Plan.

Public housing in Chicago, like in many other cities, is currently undergoing a lot of redevelopment.

In 1998, nearly 19,000 CHA units failed inspection and were set up for demolition. As a result, the city put forth their “Plan for Transformation.”

The Plan for Transformation calls for demolition of 51 gallery high-rises as well as several thousand mid-rise and low-rise units. As CHA demolishes its units and builds new, mixed-income neighborhoods, there will be a net loss of 14,000 units. Read more »

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RMCs Aim to Please?

by Beauty Turner Assistant Editor

Resident Management Corporations – Do they aim to please?

That is the question I asked residents leaders, residents and others who view their actions on a daily basic. Resident Management Corporations are known to the residents in public housing as RMCs. They are corporations which are fully staffed and run by residents who manage the developments they reside in. I asked everyone the question, “Does resident management work?” Read more »

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A Smooth Transition For Section 8?

by Michael Ibrahem 

When a number of Chicago buildings began opting out of the project-based Section 8 program earlier this year, many people worried it would cause another homelessness crisis like that of the ‘80s, when low-income families witnessed friends, neighbors and even relatives wandering the streets without shelter. But tenants, their advocates and government agencies are reporting that everything is going well so far with respect to the change from project-based Section 8 subsidies to enhanced vouchers.

Holidays are fast approaching and, as a veteran activist since the 1960s, I have been stressed out about this new threat and not just because I am personally affected. I am currently living in the Del Prado in Hyde Park, one of the buildings that chose to opt out of the project-based Section 8 program. These buildings were built or rehabbed with government support and, in return, the government demanded that the building owners keep at least a part of the building as low-income housing. Once the building owners pay off their loan from the government, they can decide whether or not they want to stay in the program. The owner of my building chose to get out of the program. Read more »

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Homelessness: A Constant American Tragedy

by Mary C. Piemonte 

When it comes to homelessness, the City of Chicago is going the way of Dr. Frankenstein. In the books and movies, Dr. Frankenstein did not foresee the havoc, chaos and destruction wrought by his monster. By making the monster, Frankenstein thought somehow the world would benefit by his creation. He sought to control his creation. But in the end, his monster was uncontrollable.

In the current scenario playing out in this city, the Chicago Housing Authority and the City of Chicago appear to be playing the part of Dr. Frankenstein. The monster is the CHA’s Plan for Transformation. Read more »

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