ARCHIVES

Don’t Rock The Boat

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Is it a coincidence or do Chicago Housing Authority residents experience a lot of hassles when they challenge their landlord?

Many residents believe that if you speak out against some of the actions of CHA, your living status may be threatened. As a resident of CHA, it is hard to be outspoken. Many residents, especially the community activists who fight for residents’ rights, have found that out.

Lakefront Community Organization (LCO) Executive Director Izora Davis (also a board member of We The People Media) has now joined that illustrious group. Read more »

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Second Chance Legislation

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A group of Illinois legislators believe that people who have had a brush with the law should be allowed a second chance.

Ill. Rep. Constance A. Howard (D-Chicago) was victorious on April 5 when House Bill 300 passed with very little opposition. Howard’s proposed legislation would allow the automatic elimination or expungement – of certain charges from one’s criminal background history. Expungement would erase some negative information that is held against an individual. If passed, the bill would amend the current Criminal Identification Act.

According to Howard and U.S. Rep. Davis K. Davis (D-7), the bill would allow people with negative background information a “second chance” to get a job and get their lives back on track. Read more »

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Altgeld Gardens’ Environmental Issues

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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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L.A. Tenants Challenge One-Strike

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There has been a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles contesting the constitutionality of the One Strike clause. President Bill Clinton signed the Housing Opportunities Extension Act March 28, 1996. It mandated that all federally-subsidized housing enforce a zero tolerance on criminal activity. This means that there does not have to be a conviction in order to start the proceedings for eviction. It also means that public housing authorities now must enforce tougher screening criteria that will ensure that new move-ins to public housing have no criminal background.

All public housing residents are subject to the “One Strike and You’re Out” clause that is part of all new leases. Residents who continue to occupy public housing as well as new move-ins are all required to abide by the new ruling. Read more »

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CHA Home Ownership: Wentworth Gardens

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Just a few blocks south of Wentworth Gardens, located near Comiskey Park, is the Wentworth Gardens Annex. The annex is a 98 unit scattered-site development located at 43rd Street and Princeton Avenue. The units are being sold under the CHA’s home ownership program.

Built in 1969, the Wentworth Gardens Annex was originally built with the idea that the units could later be sold to residents. The houses consist of two three- and four-bedroom bungalows, duplexes and row houses. There are currently 26 homeowners. Two of the sales were completed this summer. Twenty-four of the units were previously sold to residents as early as 1987.

CHA’s Division of Development Initiatives, Homeownership Department, is working closely with residents to achieve the reality of being a homeowner, according to project manager Cecil Lawrence. Once a resident becomes interested in the process, he or she will find that CHA has a wide range of supportive services to assist them.

The residents participate in mandatory homebuyer counseling. The process starts with a pre-application. Among the things that must be taken into consideration are the homeowner’s ability to pay utilities (gas, lights, water) and maintenance of the property. Some people need money for a down payment and/or closing costs. Some applicants are advised that they should save some money for a while or do various other things to get prepared.

No individual starts the program until their report comes back saying that they are prepared to enter the homeownership program. There are currently four to five people participating in the counseling process and two applicants are in the process of obtaining a mortgage. The demonstration model of the annex, which is located on 42nd Place, is a three bedroom brick, fully carpeted duplex unit. The house has central air-conditioning, ceiling fan (kitchen), ceramic floor tiles and new furnace with built in humidifier.The houses will be sold thorugh 20 or 30 year mortgages. First priority is given to the Annex residents, other public housing residents and subsidized housing residents. The average cost of a three bedroom unit is about $32,500.

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