Positive People

by  Editorial Assistant

Janice Patton

Janice Patton was a resident of the Robert Taylor Homes for 29 years and was relocated to the Prairie Parks Apartments with a Housing Choice Voucher. She’s resided there for four years.

Patton first moved to the development from Meridian, Mississippi. She describes the move as going from middle income to the ghetto and says it was a culture shock to see the way people lived. She says CHA tried but there was always a different commissioner.

“It got worse every time a different commissioner came. It got more crooked. People were pocketing money, taking payoffs and no one kept up the buildings. It stayed a slum.”

Janice stepped into her mother’s footsteps who was building council president for 29 years and who was very active in the community. She became building council president in 1998. She has also stayed productive by doing different things in the community.

In the past, she has worked in the breakfast and lunch programs in the summers, and was a side supervisor with the MET (Mayor’s Office of Employment Training) program for four years working with youth aged 14 to 17. She has also worked as an HIV Health Educator. She gave out condoms, talked about STDs, and was involved in different workshops, where she talked to people about how to protect themselves.

These days, Janice is still certainly busy. She is involved with the Washington Park Advisory Council. She explained to me how some people from Woodlawn got in touch with people from Washington Park and this was the beginning of the credit union that she is involved with. It is located in the mall at 55th Street and the Dan Ryan Expressway. The credit union is just like a bank, Janice explained. It is supposed to help low-income people. It provides loans to low-income people who might be otherwise rejected or be charged high rates of interest. They do not charge high fees for money orders or to cash checks. It opened in late November.

Patton is also part of the Save the Dan Ryan Committee. They are against the tearing down of the Dan Ryan exits. Part of the reason she is against the reconstruction is because the Illinois Department Of Transportation does not have safety precautions with regards to health in their plans. The fumes that come from construction and the trucks that are driving on the expressway are going to affect the residents because they are going to have to take the streets. Asthma is a very big problem in the city because of the pollution.

Relocated Robert Taylor Homes resident Janice Patton

“They thought they couldn’t be stopped but they got stopped by a group of people who are going to fight!” Janice exclaimed, “We’re not going to be pushed around.”

In regards to the people living in public housing, she feels that the peoples’ attitude “is living for that day.

“They want the same thing other people want,” explained Patton. “They want the American dream, but because they are poor it’s harder for them.”

Olecia Kyle
Olecia Kyle is a former resident of Wentworth Gardens and has been relocated with a temporary housing choice voucher. She says she just might stay in the subsidized housing because of her family. In the future, she would like to own her own home. This friendly, outgoing woman is a proud single mother of three girls, a freshman, fifth grader and fourth grader.

Relocated Wentworth Gardens Homes resident Olecia Kyle

She has been active in the National Organization for Women for three years. She joined the organization through her sister, Joanne Kyle, who happens to be an activist. With the organization, she marched in Washington for women’s rights.

“It was lots of fun,. It was new for me – the first time getting out of Chicago for such a good cause,” Olecia says. She also attended the Million Women March.

Olecia works as an administrative assistant and mentor for the Teen Reach program at the Charles A. Hayes Family Investment Center. The program has 25 kids ranging in age from 11 to 17. With this program, the kids get to go on lots of fieldtrips such as the auto show or a UIC sporting event. They have their first teen summit coming up soon that will be hosted by different celebrities. She gets the children involved in topics that they call life skills; this could mean anything from teen pregnancy to troubles at school. She helps them with their homework and they do arts and crafts. She has relationships with some of their teachers and with parents.

In addition to her job and taking care of her family, Olecia decided to go back to school at Harold Washington College to further her education in child development. In the future she would like to use her skills to one day have her own Teen Reach program.

She tries to be as positive as she can and tries to watch what she says and does because of her girls.

Olecia said, “Hold your head up at all times through the trials and tribulations. Live life and learn in a positive manner.”

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