LeClaire Courts’ Demise

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Residents have lost their battle to save the LeClaire Courts public housing site.

The 316-unit complex of townhouse-style apartments constructed in the 1950s, located west of Cicero Avenue between 42nd and 45th Streets, already is empty and will soon meet its demise.

Unlike other CHA developments which are wholly funded by federal dollars, LeClaire was divided into two halves, one which received federal dollars and the other known as City/State, which was funded by the State of Illinois.

Until May 2009, CHA said some of the residents living in the federal units would be allowed to move into vacant City/State units.

But in May 2009, the CHA board approved closing LeClaire. The board statement said the agency engaged in “fair consideration,” including a six-month discussion with residents and months of cost analysis.

The Board’s May 19 decision affected the 41 families who remained in the federally-funded portion of LeClaire at that time.

CHA said these residents had been offered the same housing options as the residents living in their City-State units. All residents were offered relocation to another public housing unit or a Housing Choice Voucher, with a right to return to a redeveloped LeClaire property.

CHA CEO Lewis Jordan announced at a May 28 meeting with residents that the entire development would be closed. Resident leaders were shocked.

Natalie Saffold, the tenant council leader of the federal side residents, asked Jordan, “What happened with the City/State side combining with the federal side? We were told that was an option.”

Jordan answered Saffold, “That’s not an option.”

Rosie Eubanks, another LeClaire resident, told RJ she was confused by Jordan’s change of position.

“[Lewis Jordan] said it’s not an option, but before he said they could,” Eubanks said.

CHA moved out LeClaire’s last remaining families over the course of this summer, according to a Nov. 24, 2009 e-mail from CHA spokesperson Matt Aguilar.

CHA plans to demolish the current structures at LeClaire and form a working group in early 2010 to discuss redevelopment of the site.

Aguilar added, “The residents were offered their choice of various housing options, including housing choice vouchers or other rehabbed public housing alternatives, temporarily and permanently.”

In the following months, CHA took steps to close the development forever.

On Nov. 17, 2009, the CHA recommended to its board of commissioners that they apply to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for demolition of 49 dwelling and two non-dwelling properties in LeClaire Extensions, and to demolish both federal properties as well as 55 of their City/State properties.

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