Many times when a person thinks of residents of public housing communities, they think of them as down trodden, hopeless and uneducated, people who have no plans, opinions, or ideals as to how they want to live as individuals or families. The stereotypes are that residents are isolated from society.

The ABLA Local Advisory Council (LAC), along with its president, Deverra Beverly, other concerned residents of ABLA and various city agencies are working hard to erase these negative stereotypes.

Various meetings have been held to keep the residents informed. At these meetings, residents have been allowed to make major input and educated choices as to things that will make the future of the ABLA community a viable one. These things are needed as the transformation of public housing takes place in the years to come.

An informational Town Hall meeting of the ABLA Hope VI Revitalization Plan was held at the ABLA YMCA. The session was sponsored by Telesis, the company thats helping ABLA residents plan a viable community.

Warm weather didn’t stop large crowds from attending this important event. Many residents of ABLA as well as the community as a whole were present.

The plans were presented detail by detail. The plans are that the new ABLA will resemble the residential character of other mixed income neighborhoods, with an individual unit for each unit and more open space.

After discussing the overall image, the facilators branched off into smaller groups to give more information and listen to statements from the attendees.

Some of the main topics were health care, employment, education and recreation programs. Residents as well as the youth of ABLA were knowledgeable and spoke very fluently with great concern on these areas. The facilitators listened patiently, taking down all information.

“Adamant” is the way LAC President Beverly described her feelings towards this huge endeavor.

Another Program for Residents
At a recent press conference at Fosco Park near the ABLA Homes, representatives from various city agencies, along with many ABLA residents, and Mayor Richard M. Daley unveiled the Service Connector Program, which is being administered by the Chicago Department of Human Services. The program is funded by a $5.9 million grant from the CHA and a $1.5 million dollar grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Chicago Community Trust.

Daley said, “This program will link residents within public housing communities citywide to take advantage of job training, day care and after-school programs with specialists who can help them maintain stable family environments, where all (city) residents are one and the same, not isolated. When you isolate one community, that community falls behind. Today, were here with the full weight of every City of Chicago agency and numerous community organizations to say that the isolation of public housing residents is coming to an end.”

Good Times
Sunny skies, good food, dancing, and fun were just some of the things that made this years 9th annual neighborhood festival at ABLA a success.

The festival, held at Adams Park at 15th Street and Loomis Avenue – AKA Deverra Beverly Street – was sponsored by the ABLA LAC, HJ Russell, the Duncan YMCA as well as various city and other on-site agencies.

There were activities for children, adults and our seniors. There were dance contests, train rides, games and more. The surprise was a Michael Jackson impersonator who always entertains the crowd with his fantastic stage persona.

The raffle was the event that everyone looked forward to. Over $10,000 in prizes were given away, including televisions, bicycles, back-to-school gear and microwaves. One lucky resident was so excited that she jumped and hugged everyone near her when she won a 13-inch television with a built-in VCR. As dusk fell over the crowd, some were still dancing. The whole day showed that ABLA still knows how to throw a party.

Back to School
Proud grandma, long-time LAC member and ABLA resident Loretta Mason is ecstatic about her granddaughter, Candice Mason. The young Ms. Mason, a graduate of Rich Central High School, will be attending Arkansas State University in Pine Bluff this fall. Congratulations to Mason and best wishes for a successful college career.

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