ARCHIVES

Relocation Rights Duel

by Mary C. Piemonte 

Public housing tenant leaders recently chided the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) for trying to deny thousands of former residents their right to return to public housing.

CHA officials admitted in the summer of 2009 they didn’t know the whereabouts of 3,200 families who were relocated under the Plan for Transformation, the 10-year-old effort to demolish most of the city’s public housing developments and replace them with mixed-income communities.

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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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CHA Seniors Keep Waiting to Return Home

by Mary C. Piemonte 

A Residents’ Journal investigation has found that renovation of three public housing buildings for senior citizens is years overdue, despite previous proclamations from the Chicago Housing Authority that all of its senior buildings have been rehabbed.

Former CHA Bud Britton senior residents Josef Plagov (from left), Wanda Marshall and Judy Backstrom.
Photo by Mary C. Johns

Elderly public housing residents who were relocated from the CHA senior buildings are eagerly waiting to return to their former homes.
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The Aftermath of Relocation

by Annie R. Stubenfield 

The most important part of the Plan for Transformation is the outcome. What has happened to residents who lived in CHA communities? Are they getting a fair share of new dwelling units? Do they now have decent housing?

Many factors prompted me to write this article. I felt I had a story to tell. What former CHA residents are experiencing in new communities, their trials and tribulations, needs exposure.

It’s important because it’s history. It’s important because if there were glitches, the Plan can be tweaked, set straight and applied to future planning.
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The Pros and Cons of Relocation

by Quintana Woodridge 

My family was part of the relocation process at the Chicago Housing Authority’s Ida B. Wells development.

After living in Wells for 18 years, my sisters Kelly Woodridge, 21, Monica Emmons, 23, and I, 25, received a split lease Section 8 voucher under the CHA’s $1.6 billion Plan for Transformation. A split lease Section 8 is what a tenant who is not a leaseholder but has lived in low-income housing or in CHA developments on the lease is able to receive during the transformation process. On October 31, 2005, my family moved to our separate houses.

Crews demolish units at the Ida B. Wells public housing complex in June 2007, which was once home to Quintana and her family.

My mother, Lucinda Griggs, and brother, Kelly Griggs, moved into the new Oakwood Shore homes.

This is a mixed-income community that has been built on land where Madden Park Homes, another CHA development, once stood. This community is one of many that will be built under the Plan for Transformation. My family would be living apart for the first time. Growing up in Ida B. Wells was fun and educational. The people were friendly and smart.

It wasn’t the ideal community, due to violence and lack of funding that caused youth programs to fail, but it was home. The people I met living in Wells have been mentors, family and allies for me.
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Publisher’s Box

by Ethan Michaeli, Publisher 

We’re back. Our regular readers will notice that Residents’ Journal has not published in a few months. I apologize for this delay. As a not-for-profit organization, we are dependent on foundation support, and the grants did not come in the way we hoped for in 2005.

I will admit that there were times the Residents’ Journal staff wondered if we would ever publish again. But we kept at it, broadcasting over our Web site, www.wethepeoplemedia.org, and on “Residents’ Journal TV,” our television program on the CAN-TV network. We also reached out for help and got great support both from our fellow journalists and from the broader community. In the spring, the Chicago Headline Club announced that Editor-in-Chief Mary C. Johns and Assistant Editor Beauty Turner – as well as our partners at the Chicago Reporter, Alden Loury and Brian Rogal – won first place in the Media Collaboration category for our report, “Deadly Moves.” In the summer, the Society of Professional Journalists announced that “Deadly Moves” won the First Place Award in the first-ever New America category. I got to accompany Mary and Beauty when they went to the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. to pick up their award. I even got to take the photo of Mary posing with legendary CBS anchorman Dan Rather. The “Deadly Moves” team was asked to train other journalists on the techniques of successful collaborations at the SPJ convention in Las Vegas later that year.
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A Taylor-Made Election

by Beauty Turner Assistant Editor

Residents from Robert Taylor A who relocated into the Quincy and Langston Homes were upset when they found out they could only vote for the B side of the development.

“I lived on the Robert Taylor A side for 33 and a half years,” David Wilson, a relocated resident from 4410 S. Federal said.

“I don’t think that that is right that I have to vote for whoever is down on the south end of the development when I have lived most of my life down on the north end.” Wilson said. “I know the people running there, why should I have to vote for an area that I didn’t live in?”
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Wipe Out

by Mary C. Piemonte 

The families living in the remaining buildings at Madden Park Homes on the South Side were wiped out of the Tenant Council Election this November. They received no official notice of the change that the Chicago Housing Authority made just prior to the resident elections.

Residents allege that, without the residents’ knowledge, CHA replaced their leadership. Eunice Crosby, the Local Advisory Council president for Madden Park and a resident of the community for the past 12 years, was dumped for Mary Wiggins, the LAC president for Washington Park Scattered Sites and president of the Central Advisory Council, the body of public housing residents to which the city negotiates directly. This unexpected move on the part of the CHA denied the residents – and the LAC president – the opportunity to vote or run in the elections. It also means that the relocated residents of Madden Park have no official, elected representation in returning to their mixed-income community. But Crosby is challenging that notion.
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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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Closure Razes Resident Hopes

by Beauty Turner Assistant Editor

In its last days, eight families resided at the otherwise empty public housing high-rise building at 4947 S. Federal. As the wind became colder and the nights grew longer with the coming of winter, these CHA residents waited. They felt as if their lives were being demolished along with the building that closed in late October.

According to former residents of the building, the closing process was confusing. CHA wanted to close the building on October 19, but later pushed back the date so residents could have more time to move. Relocation was supposed to be managed by the CHA and the Service Connectors, private businesses contracted with CHA to provide social service referrals to residents. But CHA was not prepared to handle relocation issues and problems, residents told me, throughout the process. Until the last days of the building, some residents did not know where they were going to live.
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