ARCHIVES

If the Suit Fits, Who Wears It?

by  Assistant Editor

There have been numerous suits in the world of Chicago public housing. Some hang around like old suits in a thrift shop, and some new ones are tailor made just for the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) and the Chicago Police Department (CPD) by the residents of public housing.

The suits that I’m talking about are not clothes but lawsuits. But these suits are clinging to CHA all the same. Class action lawsuits are what I’m talking about – many of them are being hung out there to air dry, while some of them were considered form fitting.

In some cases, they were tailor made for the residents, and the residents won. Or did they?
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Sixth District Race Makes History

by  Assistant Editor

For perhaps the first time in this country’s history, an ex-offender, who was recently pardoned after 17 years on death row, is challenging the powers that be and running for a state political office.

Aaron Patterson is the challenger against state Rep. Patricia Bailey (D-6), who is also a probation officer. Many people are wondering who will lock down the 6th District seat.

To many of the people, this is an historic event.
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Getting to Know Rockwell

by  Assistant Editor

I recently investigated Rockwell Gardens, a 17-acre public housing development on Chicago’s West Side. In my quest to get to know Rockwell, I learned a lot about this family development.

Built in 1961, Rockwell Gardens housed 1,126 units of public housing before redevelopment began recently and it is just three miles from the Loop. When completed, the redeveloped site will house 823 units, 264 of which will be public housing, according to Chicago Housing Authority representatives.
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Residents Turn up the Heat on CHA

by  Assistant Editor

Residents of the Cabrini-Green development are turning up the heat on the CHA-picked private management company that replaced resident managers and is now leaving them out in the cold–literally.

In the windy city, where winter temperatures can reach rock bottom, in early January Cabrini management company H.J. Russell and the CHA scrambled to explain to residents why they have to heat up pots of hot water and turn the knobs on their gas stoves up a few notches in order to stay warm.

Cabrini-Green Homes resident Ray Wood, 19, points to an open stove and a pot of boiling hot water that his family used in an effort to keep warm while the gas was shut off by CHA in mid-January. Photo by Beauty Turner

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Thomas Sullivan Report Update

by  Assistant Editor

The problems with the city’s ongoing, ambitious plan to transform its public housing are weighing heavily on the city’s so-called “Big Shoulders.” The Chicago Housing Authority is trying to lift some of that burden by implementing some of the recommendations made by Thomas Sullivan, the independent monitor of the transformation process.

Last year, Sullivan, a former U.S. attorney, analyzed Phase II of the CHA Plan for Transformation and presented his results to the CHA and the Central Advisory Council. In a report which hit the Windy City like a tornado, Sullivan found that residents with Housing Choice Vouchers are moving into predominately African American areas that have a high concentration of poverty. Sullivan reported that some residents moved into CHA temporary replacement units in “deplorable” conditions. Sullivan observed the presence of gangs and drug dealers in many of the developments into which people are being moved.
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The Shocking Truth about CHA

by  Assistant Editor

Residents in the Robert Taylor Homes are being judged as non-lease compliant due to their electric utility bills and may lose their right to return to public housing units in the new mixed-income communities which are planned to replace the current developments. CHA’s relocation contract with its residents stipulates that if a resident is not current or on a payment plan concerning their utilities, they will not receive replacement housing, a Housing Choice Voucher or have the right to return to public housing.

But the shocking truth is that CHA may itself be responsible for making many residents non-lease compliant. Back in 1998, CHA dropped the ball when it came to registering buildings in Robert Taylor Homes for electric utility service, according to an RJ investigation. Read more »

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Chicago’s Hottest Elections

by  Assistant Editor

I‘m hot on the trails of the hottest candidates in this lukewarm election. Though many incumbents are running unopposed, some sparks are flying in the Windy City wind when it comes to this year’s municipal race. One of the races that is sure to be hot and sizzling and may cause a Chicago fire is the mayoral race. Mayor Richard M. Daley announced his bid for re-election in the last year, according to his campaign spokesperson, Julian Green.

“Our platform is called working together. Mayor Daley has been working with elected officials, city and community groups, reverends and the like to move Chicago forward,” Green said. “For many years, the city was divided but for the last 14 years, Mayor Daley has been bridging the gap.” Read more »
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Running Out of Gas

by  Assistant Editor

Cuts to the budgets of state and local governments are slicing into the pockets of the relocatees from public housing. Public housing residents are not the only population affected by the budget cuts, of course. Activists and advocates for the poor are arguing that these cuts are taking and will take a big bite out of the pocket books of the working poor and middle-income residents as well.

Recent reports indicate that the Low-Income Energy Home Assistance Program (LIHEAP) may get $300 million less than last year, if the Bush Administration gets its way. For decades, LIHEAP has helped many elderly and low-income residents by paying their gas and electric bills. Advocates are up in arms about the possibility of thousands of low-income people being affected by this cut. Read more »

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An Invasion of Privacy?

by  Assistant Editor

There are many issues that lie buried behind the walls of public housing, but this is one that I wanted to shed a little light on. Many residents in the Raymond Hilliard Homes are feeling violated by the very thought of the Chicago Housing Authority and the development’s private management firm, Holsten Realty, wanting them to submit to a drug test in order to renew or receive a lease.
Recently, a few tenants handed me a new draft lease that read, “As a precondition to renewing this lease, landlord requires that all adult members (persons 18 and older) submit a urine sample for an analysis of such sample for non prescribed, prohibited controlled substances, by a qualified laboratory selected by the landlord.” Read more »

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South Suburban Living

by  Assistant Editor

As summer turns to fall and the leaves change from a garden green to a burnt pumpkin orange to a dark chocolate brown and a lemon sunny yellow, some South Suburban mayors are seeing red when it comes to Chicago Housing Authority residents relocating to their suburban areas.

Like the colorful leaves that fall and the bricks from public housing walls that scatter to the wind, so are the residents from public housing who are relocating from the developments closed due to the CHA Plan for Transformation. Many residents have left the city of Chicago and gone to South Suburban communities where they are faced with many issues, to let the South Suburban officials tell it. Read more »
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