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Bronzeville Residents Aim for Police Substation on 47th Street

by Mary C. Piemonte 

Bolstered by the results of a vote conducted during the recent citywide election, Chicago residents of the 3rd and 4th wards are expressing “a strong desire” for a police substation on 47th Street, according to a local resident group in the South Side’s historic Bronzeville community.

Young professionals from the Concerned Citizens of Bronzeville stated in a press release last month that the small stretch between the Green and Red CTA lines is now “unrecognizable” compared to its heyday when jazz legends like Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong frequented lavish night clubs along 47th Street.

The area “is filled with debris, used needles and condoms, illicit narcotic activity, rampant public drinking and urination,” the group stated.

This vacant lot, located in the 4700 block of South Prairie Avenue, is among one of those Concerned Citizens of Bronzeville suggest be the site of a sub-police station as a deterrent to crime and loitering in the area. Photo by Mary C. Johns

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Robert Taylor On Line

by Ethan Michaeli, Publisher 

Robert Taylor Homes still exists – on the Internet.

The last building in the Robert Taylor public housing development was demolished in 2006.

Just a few dozen replacement units have been built, and most of the hundreds of thousands of people who lived in Robert Taylor’s high-rises over the decades have scattered all over the globe.

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Residents Blame CHA for School Closures

by Mary C. Piemonte 

Attendance is low in our community because redevelopment is slow,” declared William Fleming, a resident of the Cabrini-Green pubic housing complex, to members of the Chicago Board of Education on Feb. 25. Fleming’s daughter attends Schiller Elementary School, 640 W. Scott St. Next school year, Schiller will be consolidated because of low enrollment. It will cease to exist and students will be re-enrolled into Jenner Elementary, 1119 N. Cleveland Ave.

William Fleming, a resident fo the Cabrini-Green public housing complex, testifying at the Chicago Board of Education hearings on school closures in February 2009. Fleming expressed concerns about the possibility of overcrowding that could result from relocating Schiller Elementary School students into a nearby school.
Photo by Mary C. Johns

Fleming was among many voices addressing school officials over the changes to the school system. He and other public housing residents blamed the Chicago Housing Authority’s (CHA) Plan for Transformation for the closings, turnarounds, consolidations and phase outs of 16 public schools in predominantly African American and Latino low-income neighborhoods. “In Cabrini-Green, we have a right to return, a federal right to return,” Fleming said. “Over 600 [public housing] units will be built within the next 18 months with the minimal bedroom size being three for Chicago school children between K and eighth [grade],” he added.
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Who Could Miss The Hole?

by Ethan Michaeli, Publisher 

To most people, the Hole was the worst part of America’s toughest neighborhood – the Robert Taylor Homes public housing development. Around the world, Robert Taylor’s 16-story high rises were infamous for their gangs, drugs, broken elevators, single mothers and general desperation. For a generation, those 28 high rises lined a 99-acre stretch of the South Side. “The Hole” was the nickname given to three of the buildings which stood in a u shape at the south end of the development, at the intersection of 53rd and Federal streets.

“They called it ‘The Hole’ because once you got in, you couldn’t get out,” quipped Residents’ Journal’s Assistant Editor Beauty Turner, who lived in Robert Taylor for 16 years.
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Residents: “What People Want”

by Gabriel Piemonte 

More than one year ago, We The People Media began a new effort that has recently produced the first of what will be an ongoing series of reports relating to the CHA Plan for Transformation, the agency’s $1.5 billion effort to totally redevelop public housing in Chicago. The creation of “What People Want: The Relocation Information Center Feasibility Study” has expanded We The People Media’s employment of public housing residents in the pursuit of resident-based documentation and analysis of the low-income communities in and around public housing developments.
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“Deadly Moves” – an update

by Mary C. Piemonte and Beauty Turner 

The city, its police department and the Chicago Housing Authority recently proposed to increase police patrols at several public housing sites and in areas where residents have been relocated.

This announcement came after publication of “Deadly Moves,” a series of articles produced this September by Residents’ Journal and the Chicago Reporter investigative magazine on the increased murder rate in and around CHA communities since October 1999. “Deadly Moves” reported that the murder rate in CHA developments nearly doubled since the start of the Plan for Transformation, CHA’s $1.6 billion redevelopment effort.
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Bronzeville Community Alert

by Mary C. Piemonte 

On April 30th, several prominent people met at the Renaissance Apartments at 37th Street and Wabash Avenue to alert the public about gentrification and the Chicago Housing Authority redevelopment in the historic Bronzeville community.

At the slightly attended meeting, people spoke on behalf of their businesses, churches and homeowner associations, discussing housing for poor and low-to-moderate income level residents, crime, and the rising cost of property taxes for their homes.
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Deadly Moves: Moving at Their Own Risk

by Beauty Turner and Brian J. Rogal

The Redevelopment of public housing creates new dangers
Nicole Wright thought her new home in Englewood would be safer than the Robert Taylor Homes. Last fall, her family was displaced from the dilapidated high-rise at 4037 S. Federal St., one of dozens demolished under the Chicago Housing Authority’s Plan for Transformation.

Her new neighborhood is filled with blocks where trees shade homes with big porches, and neighbors sit out and enjoy the pleasant weather. But this area is also plagued by drugs and gang violence. Like many relocated out of public housing developments, Wright had a teenage son, Kemp, 16. Teenagers can be dangerous for families leaving public housing, even if they are not members of a street gang. And gang members in Englewood looked upon the Wright family with suspicion.
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Categories: Investigative Reporting Uncategorized

Oops, They Did It Again

by Ethan Michaeli, Publisher 

Bill Wilen thinks he’s found a “smoking gun” in his current legal battle with the Chicago Housing Authority.

Wilen, an attorney with the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law who has been an advocate for residents for decades, recently received a package of documents related to the ongoing redevelopment of the Henry Horner Homes on the Near West Side. Among those documents was one that appeared strange.

The paper in question has a header that indicates it is the goals for the “Supportive Services for CHA Horner/West Haven Residents.” To translate from CHA terminology, Supportive Services, also known as “Service Connectors,” refers specifically to those private contractors whose job it is to connect residents with programs including jobs training and drug treatment.
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Getting to Know Rockwell

by Beauty Turner Assistant Editor

I recently investigated Rockwell Gardens, a 17-acre public housing development on Chicago’s West Side. In my quest to get to know Rockwell, I learned a lot about this family development.

Built in 1961, Rockwell Gardens housed 1,126 units of public housing before redevelopment began recently and it is just three miles from the Loop. When completed, the redeveloped site will house 823 units, 264 of which will be public housing, according to Chicago Housing Authority representatives.
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