The Pros and Cons of Relocation


My family was part of the relocation process at the Chicago Housing Authority’s Ida B. Wells development.

After living in Wells for 18 years, my sisters Kelly Woodridge, 21, Monica Emmons, 23, and I, 25, received a split lease Section 8 voucher under the CHA’s $1.6 billion Plan for Transformation. A split lease Section 8 is what a tenant who is not a leaseholder but has lived in low-income housing or in CHA developments on the lease is able to receive during the transformation process. On October 31, 2005, my family moved to our separate houses.

Crews demolish units at the Ida B. Wells public housing complex in June 2007, which was once home to Quintana and her family.

My mother, Lucinda Griggs, and brother, Kelly Griggs, moved into the new Oakwood Shore homes.

This is a mixed-income community that has been built on land where Madden Park Homes, another CHA development, once stood. This community is one of many that will be built under the Plan for Transformation. My family would be living apart for the first time. Growing up in Ida B. Wells was fun and educational. The people were friendly and smart.

It wasn’t the ideal community, due to violence and lack of funding that caused youth programs to fail, but it was home. The people I met living in Wells have been mentors, family and allies for me.

Leaving them was hard, but had to be done. I was able to find an apartment in a diverse neighborhood.

I found out in March 2007 that the city pays CHAC, the organization that manages the Section 8 program, to help relocated residents find homes in neighborhoods that have opportunities for them to be around diverse people and mixed incomes. I was not aware of this at the time I searched for my apartment, but now that I know I will be accessing those programs. CHAC has been around since October 1999. My move was more positive than my sisters’ move.

It’s not like living in a close community like Ida B. Wells. I’ve been living in my apartment almost two years now.

The apartment was remodeled and right by three bus lines, one that didn’t stop running until nine at night, while the other two ran all night every day.

Then again, the landlord and Section 8 office do not respond to emergency calls as quickly, if at all, as the management office at Ida B. Wells did.

Last winter, for example, I went without water for three weeks after pipes burst in my apartment building.

The heat from my apartment wasn’t enough to keep the building warm so the pipes froze.

I reported being without water, and that I needed repairs, but still received no inspection notice.

This was the only unpleasant situation I’ve encountered while in my apartment.

There are stores, schools, day cares, and parks with in two blocks of my house.

It is hard, but cool to be in charge of my own utilities. It’s been good for me.

My sister Kelly wasn’t as lucky as me. I asked her if I could share her relocation story.

She didn’t want to comment, because her move and living situation were too overwhelming.

Monica on the other hand felt it would be good to share her experience with others.

This will let people know what to be careful of when choosing an apartment and landlord.

Monica said she has experienced good and bad living conditions in the two apartments she’s had since 2005.

The first one she stayed in seemed perfect. It was different from Ida B. Wells in many ways. The building had a laundry room on site. Her son was able to have his own room. She just had to walk out her front door and she was at the bus stop. She had a park across the street from her house.

The management office, however, didn’t respond to emergencies quickly enough or professionally.

Her apartment was below ground level so it flooded every time it rained. It began to smell of mildew, mold grew and rodents infested the apartment.

After four months of living in these conditions, she was reissued her moving papers from Section 8.

In July of 2006, she moved into the apartment she lives in now.

It is smaller than the first apartment and the apartment we shared with our family, but better. She misses the feeling of being part of a community. Ida B. Wells offered that, with its programs and schools. The area she’s in now has mostly stores for shopping.

The landlady is nice, but slow at taking care of the property. Monica was even asked to pay extra money out of her pocket.

She can’t afford it so she is preparing to move again.

I am planning to stay where I’m living for another year.

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