Altgeld Gardens Tries to Stay Cool


A playground not equipped with sprinklers in the Altgeld Gardens public housing development stands empty during the recent heat wave. Altgeld has a shortage of cooling centers. Photo by Quintana Woodridge.

Editor’s Note: The following article was co-written by a youth reporter who is a graduate of the Urban Youth International Journalism Program class at People for Community Recovery, a not-for-profit organization based in the Altgeld Gardens public housing development, and Quintana Woodridge, our youth program coordinator.

Over the summer, Altgeld Gardens has been feeling the heat. The residents in the Chicago Housing Authority public housing development on the Far South Side have not had a public place where they can go to stay cool. Most of the rehabbed units in the development have central air systems in their housing units, but when they are not working, there are very few places to go. The nearest swimming pool is also closed and there are no sprinklers in the play lots throughout Altgeld.

A few residents recently expressed their concerns about the Phillis Wheately Center Library being closed on several hot days during the month of July; at the time there was a heat advisory across the Chicago area. The residents were under the impression that the library is a designated cooling center. Residents were shocked to find out that a central air conditioning system was not installed in the library when it was opened.

“When it’s hot out we open the windows and put fans throughout the library. If it gets too hot we don’t open the library for that day,” said Shante Jackson, the children’s library associate told Residents’ Journal youth reporter Alisha Jacobs. Jackson went on to say that for a few weeks in September, the library will be closed so that an air conditioning system can be installed. Read more »

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