Altgeld Gardens News


Hey! New and old things have been happening at Altgeld Gardens-Murray Homes. They had an old time picnic at Carver Park. There was eating and drinking in the park, entertainment, seeing new and old friends and we spent the evening camping out.

Altgeld Gardens Parade

The Altgeld Gardens parade was great. When it first started, everyone got their chairs and found them a place to sit and got ready to watch the parade. They got the cheerleaders ready to do the cheers. When it started, the cheerleaders did some of their cheers, then some of them were dancing and flipping. People were just watching and talking about their children with pride. After the parade, everyone went to the park to eat, drink and let the kids play. They gave out prizes to the people and there were also rides for the children. The parade was fun and nice to watch. I can’t wait to see the parade next year. Read more »

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Dear Resident


Dear Resident:

Please forgive me for not greeting you in the manner to which I hope you have become accustomed. That was done in the article that I originally wrote for this issue of RJ. But after much observation and many recent experiences, I feel the need to address a more important issue – “Us.” Us being you, I, me, we – Black Women. I recently had an opportunity to watch a television show on one of the Public Broadcasting channels about how Black women are and have been perceived by people throughout history. Of course, the show confirmed what I have always believed about Black women. We are some of the most beautiful women on Earth. We take beauty through every vein of shape, color, form and fashion. From one end of the spectrum to the other. Admittedly, at times we are even awed by each other’s beauty. The show went on to bring out how men of all races describe us as “most desirable.” Read more »

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Section 8 Update


The Section 8 waiting list re-opened this past July. Applications were made available at all city public libraries as well as in community agencies.

In the two weeks of July in which the waiting list was open, 104,000 applications were received, of which 20,000 were rejected because they were incomplete or duplicates.

In anticipation of an enormously successful campaign, the plan was to select 25,000 applicants for the waiting list using a lottery.

The CHA was so impressed by the response that they decided to increase the original number of applicants for the waiting list by 10,000 to bring the number from 25,000 to 35,000.

Already 2,000 persons have been called for preliminary interviews from this new list.

The program offers applicants the opportunity to choose a community to live where they believe their family would be in a safer environment, where their children would receive a better education and where parents may find improved job opportunities.

In the past the Section 8 program was poorly managed and encountered many problems. Two years ago, the program was turned over to CHAC, Inc., a nationally recognized housing management firm known for its dependability and professionalism and as a result the program was stabilized.

An added benefit is that landlords are now seeking to become part of the program.

Scattered Sites

The Habitat Company has constructed more than 1,300 new scattered site housing units. These units are intended to blend in with the communities in which they are built.

The units are attractive, spacious, similar in height to surrounding buildings and have wrought iron fences to discourage unwanted visitors.

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Chatting with Marie Billingsley


Marie Billingsley, President of the Senior South Local Advisory Council. Photo by Anita L. Baker.

The late Walter Russell was a dear and good friend of Marie Billingsley, the president of the Senior South Local Advisory Council. When Billingsley moved into 6401 S. Yale Ave. in 1982, Russell asked her to work with him. They worked together since that time.

“I did not just start to be president,” Billingsley explained during my recent interview with her.

Billingsley came up from the ranks. First, she was a member of a local advisory committee, then the chairperson for modernization, then vice president to the late Walter Russell. After Mr. Russell retired as building president, Billingsley then was elected building president of Senior Housing Local Advisory.

Mr. Russell and Billingsley worked well together

“He was so kind to the seniors,” Billingsley recalled about Russell. Read more »

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8,000 To Get Jobs Help


Eight thousand adults involved in the new federal welfare program will participate in a new state program that will help people find and keep jobs.


On Tuesday, Sept. 16, 1997, a press conference was held at the Illinois Department of Human Services, 2100 S. Michigan Ave., at which Gov. Jim Edgar announced a $32 million job preparation and training program.


The state will target 12 inner city areas that are in the greatest need of job education, training and placement services. The governor said that it made good sense to see that people have the proper skills in order to perform well on the job. He added that people couldn’t be moved from welfare to work without these kinds of investments.


The Illinois Job Advantage’s objective is to help what state officials call “difficult to help” welfare recipients get ready to work, get a job and stay on the job. $8.4 million of the $32 million will reach 8,000 adult Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) clients.

According to TANF federal guidelines, it is required that states have at least 30 percent of TANF clients working or involved in work-related activities by October 1997.


There are only 12 communities that will be the focus of this initiative: Ashland, Auburn Park, Cabrini-Green, Englewood, Kenwood, Michigan, Oakland, Park Manor, Pershing, Roseland, Western and Woodlawn.


The Department of Human Services will select and administer the $8.4 million in grants to community agencies to provide job preparation and training.

Also, the selected agencies will be responsible for many things including support services, mentoring and addiction services as well as connection to child care. The agencies will be paid on the basis of their success in placing clients into jobs.

“We want to continue to help people,” said Illinois Department of Human Services Secretary Howard A. Peters III. “We think this $8.4 million will be money well spent.”

The community agencies will be selected and funded by the end of October and the remaining $24 million will be distributed statewide and to other Chicago neighborhoods by DHS.

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Mothers Tackle Child Care Woes


Under great stress from welfare reform changes in child care rules, working mothers in the Westhaven/Henry Horner Homes area are taking matters in their own hands.

Westhaven/Horner has nearly 2,500 welfare recipients. That large number for one neighborhood, coupled with the intense rate of children now being found ineligible for Supplemental Security Benefits, shows the critical need for child care in the Westhaven/Horner area as well as the city.

A task force appointed by Mayor Richard M. Daley and Cook County Board President John Stroger reports that nearly 12,415 children will require publicly funded day care in the first year of reform. By the year 2000, the report finds a total of about 45,000 children will need child care. Read more »

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Flannery Homes News


A tenants meeting of both high-rise buildings, 1507 and 1531 N. Clybourn Ave., took place Aug. 9th at 2 p.m. The meeting was held by the site manager, Maria Reyes, and she discussed a number of topics.

Recertification of all tenants is scheduled for November 1997 for the new leases for 1998.

She mentioned that 10 people were arrested at 1531 N. Clybourn over the summer. The ten persons were guests of one of the tenants and that tenant has been charged with violating the One Strike rule and will be evicted, Reyes said. All 10 persons are permanently barred from the building and CHA has placed all their names on the exclusion list. One Strike is in force!

Fourteen day notices also are being enforced, Reyes said. A two-month rent arrears automatically brings a 14-day eviction notice. A tenant is served a 10-day notice to appear in court with all rents plus $265 legal fees. CHA asks the court for money and possession of the apartment. Read more »

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Happy 60th, Lathrop Homes


Three score equals 60. How that adds to years of wear and tear makes one feel very old. But age is something to be proud of, especially when you have outlived old friends and have made new friends. Sixty shows integrity.

I’m not talking about myself, thank you. I’m talking about the Lathrop Homes development and the Chicago Housing Authority, which both turned 60 years old this year.

Most reporters and writers who would do a chronological (let’s count the years) story and would find this as an opportunity to teach you a history lesson. Not this writer! I can easily lead you on a ‘follow the yellow-brick road’ trip through the entire history of CHA’s 60 years while doing a piece on the 60 years of Lathrop Homes. I can, as well, say that knowing your past can help one make good plans for the future.

But sometimes the lessons of the past don’t provide answers to issues of the day. Most of the time, we have to learn from our own mistakes. Read more »

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CHA and Latinos: Interview with Joe Shuldiner


From a recent interview with Joseph Shuldiner, executive director of the Chicago Housing Authority:

Question: Mr. Shuldiner, Why has CHA excluded Latinos from the agency?

Answer: Of course when you look at the upper management I think you’re wrong since [the takeover] we had Ana Vargas, who has since left [as Deputy Executive Director of Finance and Administration], Andy Rodriguez, who is the head of Redevelopment, and Raphael Leon, who is president of Chicago Housing Metropolitan Corporation. So when 8 upper management people met, 3 of them were Latinos, which is a much higher percentage than the Hispanic population in public housing in Chicago. So you know I think the issue of service of course is a different one. I think the core of Latinos and combinations of these people have not been reached-out to and not been served by public housing. So this wrong over the years has made them very low users of public housing.

As you know, there is a lawsuit about that by Latinos United. And we basically, as a result of the lawsuit, are working with a variety of Latino groups to do more outreach.

With all the stuff we send to the residents, we now translate it into Spanish for residents. I know there is a lot of things to be done but I think we are trying to reach out.

I can’t speak about the board that was used before the executive advisory committee, which includes a Latino. We also have to work to see more improvement and success in the Section 8 program. And I think that is also more by desire since I think Latinos are more interested in Section 8 than public housing itself.

Question: Does this have something to do with the Latinos United suing the CHA?

Answer: Well, the suit was already here when we got here. So we never had the chance to show what we would have done without the lawsuit.

Question: I know that you have 104,000 applications back. You guys did a wonderful job with so many applications how many have you sent out by now?

Answer: 104,000 applications were submitted [for the re-opening of the Section 8 waiting list] and 82,000 were found to be complete. And the computer randomly selected 35,000. So only 35,000 of those families are on the waiting list. The rest are not and at this time the first 1,000 are being notified to come in.

I don’t know exactly how many can participate later or a couple of months from now. But we now understand that apart from that there is now a separated remedial waiting list for Latinos. So some of the Latino organizations are doing a separate outreach to Latino communities and the Latinos that potentially were excluded from applying in the past. That list is open until the end of the year. That’s a fair window of 6 months that goes until the end of the year. So for Latino families that meet certain criteria, they can continue to apply and be part of a remedial list.

Question: Do you think that scattered sites and Section 8 should have their own board?

Answer: Section 8 do in some sense because generally the C.H.A.C. is their own organization, so we don’t try to tell them how to do it. In the [Northeast scattered sites] their presidents are not just actually presidents of their development, they are presidents of the Lathrop area. So if you are president of Lathrop, that also includes scattered sites of that area, and to me if the C.A.C decided they wanted representation separately, that’s exactly what they can do.

Some changes are a little more difficult [such as Section 8] because the people are nowhere near each other. They don’t necessarily have a lot in common; they have different housing. You know [Section 8] is not owned by us. It will be of much greater difficulty to organize CHA scattered sites or Section 8 residents because they’re all over the place. Sometimes you go to a development and there is a development so you say “Let’s have an election.” There are 17,000 families all over Chicago [in Section 8]. If someone wanted to organize them, they could have their own organization.

There are other organizations that include both. The New Jersey state organization basically exists for public assisted housing but they also actually represent people in Section 8. The issue again is how you outreach to people, because they’re not conveniently located in developments. It’s not like you go to Taylor and you have 3,500 families. You go to this block and you don’t even know who the Section 8 people are and its not clear to me how much of this information we are supposed to make public. What we have to do is we have to send notices to the residents saying here is the person who wants to organize and the tenant has to make contact with them. We will not normally give the name and the addresses within the program because of privacy issues.

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Stop the Violence II


In the quest to write about the violence in the streets and in the housing complexes of Chicago, I still find myself writing again about police brutality. Police brutality is nothing new, of course, but now anyone can find evidence of it in the media.

Ald. Robert Shaw (9) said recently, “We are sitting on a power keg.” He announced that he and other aldermen are planning to bring the problem of police brutality against minorities to President Bill Clinton’s attention.

The Chicago Police Department is understaffed and under court order; they are not allowed at this time to do any hiring at all, according to news reports. The courts put a moratorium on hiring new police officers because the Police Union and the City are fighting a legal battle over testing and promotion procedures. The city wants to maximize diversity in the department and wants the freedom to hire minorities on the force. The Police Union wants all hiring and promotions to be based on tests – tests on which minorities often score lower than white officers. Read more »

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