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After The Dust

by Marsha Muhammad 

Young people at the recent reunion for tenants of 5135 S. Federal St., one of the buildings in the now-demolished Robert Taylor Homes development. The reunion was held August 7 in the Dan Ryan Woods. Photo by Marsha Muhammad.

Five years after the last building in the Robert Taylor Homes was demolished, it’s a miracle to locate former residents not only from that development but from anywhere in the Chicago Housing Authority. After years of being displaced by gentrification, we were united on a social network site named Facebook. The best of my former neighbors at Robert Taylor are doing just fine. It may surprise many to see that we are functional people, since we were deemed dysfunctional and self-destructive. But we are alive and still standing! Still standing literally and figuratively.

In the summer of 1998, the first building in the Robert Taylor Homes located at 3901 S. Federal St. was torn down, followed by the cluster buildings on 53rd Street infamously known as the “Hole.” The name derived from the term, “If you come in, you can’t come out.”

Moving out of public housing became a challenge to the majority of former residents. Many families were disenfranchised by a welfare system that cut off their resources if they found employment that increased their income a penny over the poverty level. Residents learned how to survive by manipulating the system. Do just enough to not go homeless and live comfortable, but not enough to move out into the private sector and pay market rent. These residents outnumbered the working-class residents that paid market rent. This system bred generations of families who were taught the same cycle of survival. People rarely moved out. Perhaps the “Hole” should have been the nickname for the entire development.

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Ickes Homes News: The Final Curtain?

by Jacqueline Thompson 

For over two years, Residents’ Journal has been reporting how the Harold Ickes Homes Chicago public housing site was supposed to be rehabbed along with Dearborn Homes, Cabrini Green Rowhouses and the Altgeld Gardens far South Side public housing complex, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) April 2008 Moving to Work Agreement with the Chicago Housing Authority.

In the interim, CHA closed down and demolished most of all the buildings at Ickes, and gave residents the choice to relocate to another CHA-rehabbed property or use a Housing Choice ( Section 8 ) Voucher to rent housing in the private market.

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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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The CHA Plan Is Dead

by Ethan Michaeli, Publisher 

Janice Patton gave up on the Plan for Transformation a long time ago. Patton moved out of Robert Taylor Homes in 2000, the same year Mayor Richard M. Daley announced the Plan. The mayor promised that residents who moved out temporarily could return shortly, after the high-rises were demolished and replaced with new, ‘mixed-income’ communities. Patton didn’t go too far from Robert Taylor, settling in the neighborhood just south of where the development stood. Like most of those who moved out, she used a Section 8 certificate – now known as Housing Choice Voucher – to subsidize her rent in a relatively well-managed, new construction development. Unlike many of her former neighbors, Patton never expected to come back.

“I left it and kept on going,” she explained. “I thought, ‘Let me get into a good building so I don’t have to move from place to place.’”
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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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Harold L. Ickes Homes News

by Jacqueline Thompson 

The lives of Harold Ickes’ residents were disrupted when three buildings out of the remaining 11 were ordered to be vacated of their tenants.

The remaining residents of a building in the Harold L. Ickes Homes move, leaving the three buildings of the 2400 South State St block vacant.
Photo by Jacqueline Thompson

Families moved daily for three months. In the final days, pressure was put on the few remaining families to go, and eventually, no one lived in the three buildings in the 2400 block of South State Street.
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Congress Accuses HUD of Mismanagement

by Mary C. Piemonte 

Section 8 tenants from around the city rallied downtown recently to protest what they described as “deliberate miscalculations” by the federal government which are threatening the housing of thousands of families and seniors in communities across Illinois.

Project-based Section 8 tenants from around the city, including members of the Lakeview Action Coaltion, gather outside Federal Plaza on Oct. 6, 2008.
Photo by Mary C. Johns

Led by the Lakeview Action Coalition (LAC), the protestors alleged mismanagement of Project Based Voucher Program by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development at a press conference and briefing outside HUD’s local headquarters in downtown Chicago on October 6, 2008 – International Housing Rights Day.
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Penalties

by Kirby Stanton 

Editor’s Note: The following article was written by a youth reporter who is a graduate of the Urban Youth International Journalism Program.

Some citizens of Chicago have had a hard time finding a way to re-enter society and be able to fee themselves and their families. Sometimes people aren’t able to come back to their homes, especially if they live in CHA apartments or Section 8 homes.

There has always been a one-strike law that was put in place to get rid of people in public housing that have records or have committed a criminal offense. A lot of people don’t agree with the one-strike law, but it’s usually the people that are involved in illegal activities. The problem with the one-strike law is when someone, especially an older person, loses their apartment because someone on their lease does something wrong. For example, in CHA buildings when someone is caught selling drugs on the premises, they will get arrested and the whole family can be evicted under the one-strike policy. It may not be fair, but that’s life.
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Tales of Lawndale Housing

by Beauty Turner Assistant Editor

Many of the poorest of the poor in Lawndale feel as if they have been exploited for years by Cecil Butler and his company called Lawndale Restoration as well as U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD.

Until last year, no one paid close attention to the cries of the people in the Lawndale community. People only started to cast their eyes to this West Side neighborhood when one of Cecil Butler’s apartment buildings’ roofs caved in, endangering the safety of residents.

Pictured here in September, 2004, a dismantled ceiling in one of Cecil Butler's dilapidated buildings. Photo by Beauty Turner

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Utility Problems Persist for Residents

by Beauty Turner Assistant Editor

The living situation many relocated CHA residents are facing is like an Easter egg without the yolk – pretty on the outside but with nothing on the inside. They are living in an extremely fragile housing situation that could leave them homeless if their problems are left unaddressed.

Fontain Fleming, a young, single mother of nine, relocated from the Robert Taylor Homes to Englewood in 2002. One of her children is 16 years old and disabled. This young lady is also the mother of a one year old child, who lives within the Fleming household, bringing the total number of people in the household to 11.
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