ABLA Relocation Report


With help from ABLA’s Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) committee, an agreement to guarantee that residents from Brooks Homes would be able to return after rehabilitation was completed. They secured funding from the CHA modernization heat-related damage fund to renovate one high rise for Brooks Homes residents.

During the rehabilitation process, some residents were even hired to work. Here’s an update to what’s happening:

Recently here at ABLA Homes (Addams, Brooks, Loomis, and Abbot), Brooks Homes underwent a massive rehabilitation process. 835 old units were completely renovated at a cost of $4.5 million to erase the deplorable living conditions – no heat, leaking roofs and crumbling plaster. You may ask, “Where did the people go who were involved in phase I?” Some residents took Section 8 certificates, others decided to remain here at ABLA. For those that remained, a committee was formed called the MOA. The committee consisted of Brooks residents, Local Advisory Council (LAC) executive board and CHA staff. They were able to have renovated one high-rise unit within Abbott at 1440 W. 13th St. to temporarily house the residents involved in phase I.

Your next question might be: “Why couldn’t they just fix one unit at a time?” According to Deverra Beverly, president of the LAC, this question was presented by the residents to the MOA committee and the CHA staff but the old units had serious problems. Walls were still crumbling, roofs still leaked and bad underground heating in Brooks caused the rebirth of the high-rise.

It took approximately four months to complete the rehabilitation process, which began in July 1997. Residents were housed in clean and safe units.

Resident Interviews

I interviewed two residents who collectively have lived in the Brooks Homes 53 years.

Audrey Davis, a resident for 9 years: When asked how did she like her new unit, she replied, “It’s nice, no roach or mice infestation or mosquitoes. I’m looking forward to returning.”

Beatrice Jones, a resident for 43 years, said: “I don’t like high-rise living.”

When asked why she didn’t like high-rise living, Jones said that residents were not allowed to sit around the building during the summer months because there were no benches and that the laundry room still hadn’t opened.

She said, “I’m pleased. Plenty of heat, hot water and excellent maintenance staff, and Ms. Purdis, the manager, works very hard to make sure the residents’ needs are met. But I’ll be glad to go home.”

Resident Leader Explains

I then asked LAC President Beverly how she felt about the rehabilitation process.

“We have three residents hired as of Dec. 28, 1997 as consultants (the contract was given to the LAC) to sit in on all meetings with CHA, the Walsh Construction Company, which is handling the rehabilitation, and the sub-contractor to make sure everything goes as planned.”

Beverly also said that the rehabilitation was “a first” and felt confident that residents in good standing (no social problems and rent kept current) would return. She also voiced this concern with the consultant Thom Finnerty and the CHA staff.

Beverly then used a quote from Ed Moses, CHA Deputy Executive Director for Community Relations and Involvement, which goes, “Don’t trust us, judge us.”

“So I’m happy and excited,” Beverly said.

CHA Questions

Last but not least, I presented some questions to Doreathear Washington, CHA’s deputy director of security and modernization. They are as follows:

RJ: What will the rent be?

DW: “Rents will remain the same as for all public housing residents. 25% of income if on fixed income, ceiling if employed.”

RJ: When will the rehabbed units be ready in the Brooks Homes?

DW: “The first, phase I, 132 units will be ready by January 1998.”

RJ: How many residents will return?

DW: “13 units were torn down to make way for secured parking during phase I and the new units will be based on configuration – the ability to accommodate family size.”

RJ: Will employment be one of the requirements to return?

DW: “No pre-condition based on employment.”

RJ: Will utilities have to be paid?

DW: “Electricity.”

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