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Harold Ickes News

Harold Ickes is an eternally active mosaic of changing conditions. For the past nine months, we longtime residents have shared stairwells, hallways, by-ways and parking (already scarce) with strangers who look at you with surprise as they continue to claim their place in what you thought was your space.

Where the rent paying residents have no say so as to who frequents the common areas, neither do they have the authority to stop the heavy human traffic in the stairwells where our small children and seniors have to go up and down. The elevators in some buildings stop on a floor, the doors opens a peak, slams shut and the elevator continues on its way, leaving one to get off above or below their floor with or without heavy bags or other packages. Where is management?
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CHA Contracting Woes

by  Editor-in-Chief

Residents of public housing are constantly being told by the Chicago Housing Authority and its private housing contractors to properly manage their personal affairs in order to be lease compliant under their $1.6 billion Plan for Transformation. But is the CHA properly managing its own state of affairs?

Mismanaged CHA Contractor under Federal Indictment
On June 15, 2005, a federal grand jury indicted three employees of CHA property manager William Moorehead and Associates, including William Moorehead himself, for “allegedly fraudulently” taking nearly $1 million housing funds appropriated for “more than a dozen U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development subsidized properties, including housing units operated by the CHA between 1994 and 2002,” according to U.S. Department of Justice documents.
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Victory at Bridgeport Homes

by  Editor-in-Chief

For years, the resident leaders of the South Side CHA Bridgeport Homes public housing complex said that Legum and Norman, the private property management firm for the public housing site, were poor managers.

The resident representatives at the complex often reported to the CHA officials the concerns and problems they were experiencing with the management company. Residents’ complaints range from long-standing work orders that were not addressed, to poor roofing work done in a rows of units housing seniors during the winter, to allegations of mismanagement of public funds by former property managers of the company, to one manager’s alleged violation of federal rules by granting a prison inmate permission to live with his sister at the CHA site currently under rehabilitation. Because of the residents’ continued complaints about the private property management company, Legum and Norman, a Virginia based company, also came under scrutiny for their campaign donations. Legum and Norman’s only business interests in Illinois seem to be in Chicago and the company made their only political donations in Illinois to the 17th Ward Democratic Organization, where there is no public housing or redevelopment activity. “A Questionable Connection,” an investigation done by Residents’ Journal in collaboration with the Better Government Association and published in the last issue, detailed an analysis of the Illinois State Campaign Contribution Disclosure Forms and CHA contract agreements which showed that Legum and Norman gave before and after receiving contracts from the CHA. But they made no campaign donations to any other wards since working in Chicago. The 17th Ward is currently home to CHA CEO Terry Peterson, who was also the former alderman of the ward. Current 17th Ward Alderman Latasha Thomas confirmed in “A Questionable Connection” that Peterson remains actively involved in 17th Ward affairs.
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Harold Ickes News

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Building Improvements Uneven
Harold Ickes Homes can now boast that one building has the honor of having seven floors with brand new blue tiles in the hallway of each level. It is truly lovely to see. I wonder when our nine story building will be on the receiving end.

Yes, in our building we have iron pipe hand railings, new push plates on the front and back doors, but the doors are beat up and falling apart, so the new plates are not even adhering to them. One side of our double front door fell off of its hinges somehow overnight.

At least the glass blocks that grace the front of the building have been replaced, thank you. So some upkeep work has been done.
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Tales of Lawndale Housing

by  Assistant Editor

Many of the poorest of the poor in Lawndale feel as if they have been exploited for years by Cecil Butler and his company called Lawndale Restoration as well as U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD.

Until last year, no one paid close attention to the cries of the people in the Lawndale community. People only started to cast their eyes to this West Side neighborhood when one of Cecil Butler’s apartment buildings’ roofs caved in, endangering the safety of residents.

Pictured here in September, 2004, a dismantled ceiling in one of Cecil Butler's dilapidated buildings. Photo by Beauty Turner

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Utility Problems Persist for Residents

by  Assistant Editor

The living situation many relocated CHA residents are facing is like an Easter egg without the yolk – pretty on the outside but with nothing on the inside. They are living in an extremely fragile housing situation that could leave them homeless if their problems are left unaddressed.

Fontain Fleming, a young, single mother of nine, relocated from the Robert Taylor Homes to Englewood in 2002. One of her children is 16 years old and disabled. This young lady is also the mother of a one year old child, who lives within the Fleming household, bringing the total number of people in the household to 11.
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Stop The Violence

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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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Residents: “What People Want”

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More than one year ago, We The People Media began a new effort that has recently produced the first of what will be an ongoing series of reports relating to the CHA Plan for Transformation, the agency’s $1.5 billion effort to totally redevelop public housing in Chicago. The creation of “What People Want: The Relocation Information Center Feasibility Study” has expanded We The People Media’s employment of public housing residents in the pursuit of resident-based documentation and analysis of the low-income communities in and around public housing developments.
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Rockwell, LeClaire, ABLA Elections

by  Assistant Editor

Strange Tales from Rockwell

On a dreary, rainy November day, a large Maroon van pulled up to the polling place located at 2540 West Jackson by the Rockwell Gardens development. A short, older man adorned with a gray cap and glasses opened up the door like a gentleman for six young women who exited out of the van. I motioned for one of the young women to come over to talk to me.

Yolanda Buchanan, a resident of Rockwell and a young, single mother of five came over for an interview.Are you a resident, I asked.

“Yes, I’m a resident, I have been a resident for about six to seven years now,” Buchanan said.
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More CHA Residents Voting Woes

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For more than 30 years, residents using project-based Section 8 Housing Vouchers within the City-State properties have participated in Tenant Council Elections along with the residents living in public housing units at the sites, according to Robert Whitfield, an attorney representing the CHA resident councils. But, for this election, the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development put a stop to that before the November 2004 resident elections.

These residents living in the CHA City-State properties were stripped of their voting privileges because they were not developed under the United States Housing Act of 1937 and are not eligible for operating subsidy because they do not qualify as public housing developments, according to HUD.
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