Elementary School Students Suffer from CHA Relocations


CHA Lathrop Homes elementary aged students now have to travel a further distance to attend another school, after their former school changed to Alcott High School for the Humanities, located at 2957 N. Hoyne Ave. Photo by Mary C. Piemonte

Grammar-school children from the Julia C. Lathrop Homes public housing community now have to walk up to 10 blocks to school because of Chicago Housing Authority relocations, according to a former president of the tenants’ Local Advisory Council.

Juanita Stephenson told Residents’ Journal that CHA’s relocations of tenants from the North Side public housing complex, located near the intersections of Damen Avenue, Clybourn Street and Diversey Avenue, made the attendance rate “crash” at the nearby George Schneider Elementary School, formerly at 2957 N. Hoyne Ave., where the majority of Lathrop’s elementary school students attended.

Alcott High School of the Humanities shared space with Schneider when it was first established there in 2009. But this past June, the Chicago Public Schools shut down Schneider and left the building for Alcott high-school students to occupy solely, Stephenson said during a Sept. 19 interview.

Stephenson said she believes Schneider school closed due to low attendance rate, which she blames on the relocation of tenants out of Lathrop. “When they shut down the development on the north end of Lathrop Homes, which is on Diversey, Clybourn and Leavitt streets, they moved the residents south across Hoyne and Leavitt which is like 2700 all the way back to 2600 north on either Leavitt or Hoyne.

Now the children have to go to school past where their school is shut down to Belmont and Wolcott. That’s ten blocks walking,” she said.

Young public housing students from the CHA Lathrop Homes, now walk nine-to-ten blocks to Fredrick Jahn Elementary school, 3149 N. Wolcott Ave, because of CHA relocations, which parents said caused attendance rate to drop at their old school, now transitioned into a high school. Photo by Mary C. Piemonte

Stephenson said parents were informed by CPS officials that before the school year started this September 6, their children would be bussed to either Prescott Elementary School, located at 1632 W. Wrightwood St., or Fredrick Jahn Elementary School, 3149 N. Wolcott Ave. But on the first day of school, “no bus showed up,” Stephenson said. “The poor little children were kicked to the curb.” Both Jahn and Prescott schools are approximately 9 to 10 blocks away from Snyder, their former school.

Stephenson said CPS officials and the CHA should be responsible for arranging bus service for the students, since they created the situation: “When it gets below zero, what is going to happen to these children? Most of these children’s parents don’t have cars.”

Mary Thomas, a tenant at Lathrop who has two children now walking “about twenty-five minutes” from their home on North Leavitt Avenue to Jahn school, told RJ that she hoped the children would get bussed to the relocation schools soon before the winter months hit.

Lathrop Homes tenant Mary Thomas, has two children now walking “about twenty-five minutes” from their home on North Leavitt Avenue to Fredrick Jahn Elementary School. Photo by Mary C. Piemonte

“These kids will not be able to walk to school, especially in the winter,” Thomas said. “I’ve heard they measured from Schneider to Jahn and they didn’t measure [the distance] from Lathrop. I think it’s very important that we get a bus here for these kids.”

Thomas added that she, other Lathrop tenants and their advocates have talked with CHA officials, a representative at the area alderman’s office, and the pastor of the nearby Church of the Good Shepherd.
“They said they’re pushing for a bus this week, but I don’t know how true that is,” Thomas said.

That same day, Jadine Chou, vice president of CHA’s Asset Management Department, told RJ the agency was working with Chicago Public Schools officials to rectify the problem.

“We met with them yesterday, and are working with them to find a resolution,” she said.

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