Stop The Violence

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In this article, I’ll continue to describe the deplorable conditions we live in at Ogden Courts. There are two buildings in Ogden Courts at 2610 and 2710 W. Ogden Ave. Our buildings are only seven stories high. This means they won’t be torn down in the transformation of the CHA complexes I learned this at the last meeting we had to meet our new manager. They finally fixed the second opening to the lobby. They fixed up many empty apartments but they rented them to new tenants.

Now they are fixing the offices; there is a sign on the management office door saying same. We have had a lot of meetings lately. Among the many complaints voiced at these recent meetings, tenants focused on the water quality and the water damage. People also complained about issues I have written about in past articles, about children with lead in their bodies and people with asthma caused by the mold from the water seepage from the roofs.

Stains on this floor are from water that was running down the wall of the CHA Service Connector's office at 2650 W. Ogden Ave., shown here in this recent photo. Photo by Cenabeth Cross

The water was shut off on Dec.12, 2002 for over 2 hours. It has been shut off 3 times since. We get little warning, sometimes just a quick knock on our door. Latresha Green, Ogden Courts’ Local Advisory Council president, had a tenant meeting on Dec. 16. Not many people showed up and it wasn’t very productive. Mostly, tenants and management officials traded accusations. Management officials said our children are the ones messing up the plumbing by putting objects down the drains. One manager said the janitors were finding toothbrushes in the pipes and reminded us that we would be charged for any job done on our apartments.

They passed out a paper explaining the terms and conditions of our new contract.
One tenant asked when the playground would be fixed so the kids would have a place to play, away from the dealers and outside of the apartments. At a prior meeting, management officials mentioned that Mt. Sinai Hospital would help fix the playground. But at this meeting, management officials weren’t able to say when the playground would be finished.

They also couldn’t comment on the new windows that were supposed to be a priority, after a three-year-old boy fell to his the death from a 6th floor window last year.

The management official asked us to defer all complaints to another meeting or to come see her in the office. At this meeting, she said she wanted to go over the new contract. She said she would be strict with the lease provisions. With that remark, one lady said her records were messed up. She said she was incorrectly noted as being 3 months behind in her rent.

The manager told her to come to the office and talk to her later. I had another meeting I had to attend. I had my hand up for 15 minutes but no one called and let me say anything, so I left.

We had a meeting on Jan. 9 to meet yet another new manager. The notice read “mandatory, tomorrow, tenant meeting, 2650 Ogden #104. ” It went on to read that “if you plan on keeping your unit, then plan to attend this meeting, thank you, manager, Angela Sims Abiodun.”

The heat was off for three weekends recently. One young girl came around on Jan. 13 with a petition for us to sign. On Jan. 22, my toilet was running over as it has many times. I ran downstairs (the elevator doesn’t work most of the time) to the office to get help. The person in the office said the men were unloading lumber at the next building and she would have to call someone to come over.

I ran back upstairs and wiggled the handle like the lady had showed me the first time. The toilet ran over into the apartment under me. Fifteen minutes later, I walked back down to tell the office worker that that I had stopped the overflow myself. I’ve lost a lot of towels and rugs this way.

The water quality affects different tenants in different ways. One lady has papers from Mt. Sinai Hospital which document the effect of the building’s water to her children. She asked me if my stomach hurt a lot. I replied yes, and she implied it was from the water. After Sept. 11, I tried to store water to have on hand, just in case. I filled as many pop and juice bottles as I could under the sink. After a couple of months, I found that the water smelled so bad that I had to pour all of the water into the toilet.

If I stay away from my apartment for a few days, the water runs a brownish color until you run it for a while. The couple who lived in apartment 509 called the Board of Health because they had maggots coming out of the floor. Shortly after the couple complained, I saw the manager and an inspector. They asked me if maggots had come into my apartment.

I told them I had sealed the holes in my bathroom with ready-to-use cement. The inspector remarked that they wouldn’t be able to enter my apartment, so they left. The couple asked me to look, and I saw a couple of dead maggots around a hole in the floor. They have moved since then.

Sounds of Violence
Ogden Courts is right across the street from Mt. Sinai Hospital. We hear the sounds of violence and death daily, 24 hours, seven days a week. There are the fire trucks screaming, police sirens, and the sounds of ambulances. The dealers are shouting all day selling their wares. And there are the sounds of people fighting and the occasional gunshots.

In the whole setup, the children get the worst deal. I talk to the young people a lot. I often just listen to them rap. One young man wants to be a writer and I have him write poems or letters and show me. This time, I got him to give me an interview on his thoughts on how we live here at Ogden Courts: He wants to know why is it we only come together to kill one another.

Then he went on to say, “We must not let demons nor temptation control our lives or passion to succeed. We must open our eyes and hearts to one another and see the light in each other’s souls. We must come together and see each other’s goals and tributes, to strive harder in our society, community and youth.

“We must show our youth the right way, and the way to do that is we must stop poisoning our community. We have to keep our money in our community. We must build and stop killing each other over silly things, because the brothers we kill might have the cure for cancer, AIDS and any other thing wrong with our neighborhood and society.”

Deon aspires to be a journalist. I had a talk with my editor, and she decided that she would give him an interview and a chance. On Feb. 2, I had a young rapper bring me a CD of one of his recordings. He is currently working on his first album. He goes by the single stage name Manzet but his full name is Donald Word. He started his career at the age of 11.

Up and coming Chicago rapper Donald Word (left), better known as "Manzet," poses with an unidentified friend. Photo by Cenabeth Cross

He was influenced by his cousin, Kevin Bland. Since that age, he has been in four groups. None of these worked out so he began his solo act. He has done a musical commercial for a restaurant called “Mr. Munchies.”

This played for a week on WGCI radio. His idols are Method Man, Busta Rymes and Mr. Morbid. He writes all his own material and says that he is a “new age musician.” I first caught him at Mr. G’s on Oct. 11. He entered the freestyle competition. He was on the bill with Xplicit Behavior and Na├»ve.

I listened to his sounds and was a little surprised. His lyrics aren’t full of curse words. His background music is more relaxed and more of a little rap and a little singing mixed in.
It is the future, because the current rappers are getting stale, in my opinion. When I asked him what motivates him, he told me he credits his mother, Vernideen Words. He says her patience and inspiration made him the man he is.

Good Night Irene
On a sad note, Ogden Courts lost a dear friend on Jan. 22. Irene Clay Chandler was put to rest at Corbin Colonial Funeral Home. Irene had lived in Ogden Courts until she became ill with diabetes and went blind. She was at the Alden Wentworth Nursing Center until she passed at Mt. Sinai Hospital. They put her away on Jan. 27, at Restvale Cemetery.

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