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The Garden

by Tyreshia Black Youth Reporter

Editor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in the Urban Youth International Journalism Program in partnership with Imagine Englewood If, a youth services organization based in that South Side neighborhood:

Most people don’t know you can grow gourmet vegetables right here in Chicago, where we have some of the world’s most fertile soil. But because of contamination with lead and other toxins in the soil, we should use raised beds for our urban gardening. That’s what I and other student members of Imagine Englewood If learned in our visit with polyculturalist Seneca Kern.

We visited Kern at Kilbourn Organic Garden in Logan Square, and the meeting had extra importance since Kern and the group Growing Home are in the process of starting an organic garden in Englewood.

I learned and experienced so many things I didn’t know about before, including things that will come in handy gardening. I learned that Illinois has very fertile soil, even though we usually don’t realize it because we are so busy throwing trash in parks and in landfills. Usually we just buy our food and throw it in the trash when we’re done, without even thinking about planting a garden and composting our food waste.

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Categories: Homepage UYIJP

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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Victory at Bridgeport Homes

by Mary C. Piemonte Editor-in-Chief

For years, the resident leaders of the South Side CHA Bridgeport Homes public housing complex said that Legum and Norman, the private property management firm for the public housing site, were poor managers.

The resident representatives at the complex often reported to the CHA officials the concerns and problems they were experiencing with the management company. Residents’ complaints range from long-standing work orders that were not addressed, to poor roofing work done in a rows of units housing seniors during the winter, to allegations of mismanagement of public funds by former property managers of the company, to one manager’s alleged violation of federal rules by granting a prison inmate permission to live with his sister at the CHA site currently under rehabilitation. Because of the residents’ continued complaints about the private property management company, Legum and Norman, a Virginia based company, also came under scrutiny for their campaign donations. Legum and Norman’s only business interests in Illinois seem to be in Chicago and the company made their only political donations in Illinois to the 17th Ward Democratic Organization, where there is no public housing or redevelopment activity. “A Questionable Connection,” an investigation done by Residents’ Journal in collaboration with the Better Government Association and published in the last issue, detailed an analysis of the Illinois State Campaign Contribution Disclosure Forms and CHA contract agreements which showed that Legum and Norman gave before and after receiving contracts from the CHA. But they made no campaign donations to any other wards since working in Chicago. The 17th Ward is currently home to CHA CEO Terry Peterson, who was also the former alderman of the ward. Current 17th Ward Alderman Latasha Thomas confirmed in “A Questionable Connection” that Peterson remains actively involved in 17th Ward affairs.
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Categories: Investigative Reporting Uncategorized

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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Transforming CHA: Ickes “New” Management

by Jacqueline Thompson 

Under new private management, in the case of Harold L. Ickes Homes, is truly a play on words; the management company that replaced CHA employee managers is a well-known established organization that has a reputation for managing good and lasting housing, social and other community services on the South Side of Chicago, The Woodlawn Organization, known as TWO.

At our first town hall meeting, the new general manager, Deborah Mallory, handed out fully prepared packets giving details of the history of the new management and just how organized they really are. They also had a pictorial display of community activities involving block clubs, churches and other groups outside of public housing that showed their involvement was truly impressive. Read more »
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Altgeld Gardens’ Environmental Issues

by Wateka Kleinpeter 

An Altgeld Gardens resident and longtime environmental activist says residents of other public housing developments should be concerned about potential health hazards from the demolition and redevelopment of their communities.

“CHA doesn’t hold contractors responsible when they’re doing demolitions,” said Cheryl Johnson, director of People for Community Recovery. “Maybe due to a lack of knowledge of environmental health concerns.”

For many years, Johnson and other Altgeld Gardens residents have been very concerned about potential health hazards because they live in a former industrial area on the far South Side. Read more »

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Transforming CHA: Washington Park Wants Answers

by Beauty Turner Assistant Editor

Washington Park Local Advisory Council President Mary Wiggins is facing a dilemma. She is concerned and wondering, searching high and low for an answer to a question that lays heavy on her mind like a wrecking ball against a Chicago Housing Authority wall.

She is confused and a bit puzzled why Saint Edmund’s Church Association, a group contracted by the CHA, will not rehab or open up a stretch of closed public housing row houses that dot the South Side like a bunch of choir lines, all in straight rows. Wiggins would prefer that residents live in the rehabbed row houses instead of the high rise at 62nd and Calumet, which now houses approximately 200 families. Read more »

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