Tenants Protest CHA Drug Testing Plan


Residents’ Journal’s video coverage of the June 1, 2011 public hearing on the Chicago Housing Authority’s plans to drug test all tenants, including seniors and those with disabilities as well as their plans to take away the tenants’ defense provision in their lease, for criminal activity committed by a family member or friend, unbeknown to them.

Low-income people from across the city held two days of protest last week against the Chicago Housing Authority’s plans to drug test of all tenants, including tenants of senior buildings. CHA residents and their allies also were protesting the agency’s efforts to limit tenants’ ability to avoid eviction.

On June 1, angry tenants and their advocates from the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization gathered in front of CHA’s downtown headquarters and said the agency’s proposed changes would violate the US Constitution’s 4th Amendment protecting citizens from unreasonable search and seizure.

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Crystal Clear Views


Dear Crystal,
My upstairs neighbors are seriously getting on my nerves! I live in an apartment that I have rented with the help of a housing choice voucher. The other tenants in the building do not have this assistance. At first, my neighbors were great. Then the loud music started at really late hours of the night. Their children are constantly running and bouncing balls over our head. I find garbage on the landing of my back porch, that I believe they have left there. I finally complained to the lease holder one night, after I had enough of the music, and she apologized. A couple days later, the problem persisted except this time, it was the loud music, her kids running and jumping all at 11:30 pm on a Tuesday! I went and complained once again. She apologized again, turned down the music, but her kids kept being a nuisance. Read more »

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Stop The Violence


Located at 2650 and 2710 Ogden Ave. on Chicago’s West Side, the Odgen Courts development is mostly occupied by single parent households, headed by women. The apartments are in deplorable conditions. Mice, lead poisoning and dirty water are only a few of the problems we face daily. And many of us suffer from depression, asthma and other ailments. There are shootings, fights and other conflicts constantly.

One of the most violent acts that has happened here at Ogden Courts between residents was a fight between four women, including the former LAC president, Latresha Green. Also involved was her twin sister, Lakisha, and her mother, Debra. The three of them jumped on a young lady. There were two eye witnesses. One was the young lady’s seven-year-old son.
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Stop The Violence


CHA Police

I recently interviewed Richard Smiley, the director of the CHA Police Department. Smiley expressed his concern for all CHA communities.

He said, “As we approach the 21st century, police enforcement will have to be different.”

He explained that 60 percent of crimes are drug related but that we will have to treat the problem as an illness. We must deal with the cause before we can initiate a cure.

Smiley said he is starting classes for residents who need GEDs and classes for children who need to learn how to keep the weight off. Smiley noted that overweight people suffer from depression and ridicule and the class to help them is called Overeaters Anonymous and is open to all residents. The children with eating disorders will need professional help and help developing their self-esteem to conquer some of their problems.

Smiley, a former resident of Altgeld Gardens, said locking people up is not always the answer. The CHA police want to serve and protect and make the quality of life better for our people.

Smiley mentioned that CHA Police recently had successfully raided the Lawndale complex just behind where I live. He was right. I have to go to Roosevelt Road to get a bus since the service has been cut back and I was always scared because the streets are full of young men standing outside on every corner. They aren’t there anymore and I breath easier as I go home at night.

Smiley explained how the lock down of many complexes will force the drugs out:

“The residents are our clients,” he said.

Smiley’s vision is to turn would-be law breakers into law enforcers.

Part of Smiley’s program is a partnership with Harold Washington College offering residents, police officers and CHA employees programs where they can earn certificates and degrees in addictions studies. The goal of the program is to produce CHA Police officers and CHA employees who are state-certified substance abuse counselors.

Residents who go through the course will become more marketable for employment. Police officers and employees who go through the course will increase their knowledge in criminal justice and the human sciences. Interested parties can contact the Applied Science Department at Harold Washington College (312) 553-6989.

Erasing Criminal Records

On Aug. 5, I went to the Fernwood United Methodist Church, 10057 S. Wallace St. Pastor the Rev. Al Sampson and his lawyers are promising to help with erasing criminal records. This effort is called Operation Clean Slate and is sponsored by the Million Man March-Metropolitan Area Planning Committee and the Chicago chapter of Men Against Destruction-Defending Against Drugs and Social-Disorder (MAD DADS) and can be reached at (773) 287-1960.

I interviewed lawyer Rose E. Joshua, who wanted to spread the word of this program throughout the city. If turnout is heavy enough, Joshua said they may take the idea to the state legislature and get more done for people who made silly mistakes in their youth. Those records often kill their chances for finding gainful employment.

Joshua wants people who have served their time and been clear of any criminal acts for a number of years to be able to just write no on the employment application.

CAPS March

Also on Aug. 5, 25 neighborhood marches for the Community Alternative Policing Strategies (CAPS) were held throughout the city. Mayor Richard M. Daley led the one in his neighborhood. These marches involve people taking to the streets to tell the gangs that they will call the police in the event a crime is committed. They also get to know the police in their neighborhoods one on one.

Danny Davis Meeting

On Aug. 12, I met U.S. Rep. Danny K. Davis (D-7) at a meeting at Mt. Sinai Hospital. Davis said he will host meetings throughout the city.

Davis tried to address all the complaints made by the participants. There were questions on health care for children and for seniors. There was the usual concern of what is being done about the gangs. The meeting lasted for 3 hours and many other issues were discussed.

Also attending the meeting was Michael A. Robbins, director of the Handgun Epidemic Lowering Plan (HELP). Robbins spoke for all of those who have lost a loved one through gun violence, such as myself.

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