ARCHIVES

Who Could Miss The Hole?

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To most people, the Hole was the worst part of America’s toughest neighborhood – the Robert Taylor Homes public housing development. Around the world, Robert Taylor’s 16-story high rises were infamous for their gangs, drugs, broken elevators, single mothers and general desperation. For a generation, those 28 high rises lined a 99-acre stretch of the South Side. “The Hole” was the nickname given to three of the buildings which stood in a u shape at the south end of the development, at the intersection of 53rd and Federal streets.

“They called it ‘The Hole’ because once you got in, you couldn’t get out,” quipped Residents’ Journal’s Assistant Editor Beauty Turner, who lived in Robert Taylor for 16 years.
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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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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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A Taylor-Made Election

by  Assistant Editor

Residents from Robert Taylor A who relocated into the Quincy and Langston Homes were upset when they found out they could only vote for the B side of the development.

“I lived on the Robert Taylor A side for 33 and a half years,” David Wilson, a relocated resident from 4410 S. Federal said.

“I don’t think that that is right that I have to vote for whoever is down on the south end of the development when I have lived most of my life down on the north end.” Wilson said. “I know the people running there, why should I have to vote for an area that I didn’t live in?”
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Positive People

by  Editorial Assistant

Geraldine “Penny” Walton
Geraldine Walton, or “Penny” as most people like to call her, is one of the sweetest people that you will ever meet and her genuine demeanor is quite refreshing.

She was a resident of Washington Park for four years. She explained how the building that she lived in, at 220 East 63rd street, was one of the last to go up and one of the first to come down.

“It was so nice there,” Penny said of the time she spent in the development. “Everything was clean. Back then, the gangs were just getting started so they weren’t so bad. When those street lights came on, everyone was in the house. Obviously, the situation has changed from the time that the buildings first started going up, with so much hope and well wishes, and now that they are pretty much deteriorating.

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Positive People

by  Editorial Assistant

Carlos Estes

Carlos Estes was a resident of Ida B. Wells from the time that he was a toddler up until he was 18 years old. He attended Doolittle East and Doolittle West grammar schools and Wendell Philips High School. After high school, he studied at Olive Harvey Community College. He also took courses at the National Institute of Real Estate and the National Center for Housing Management.

Former Ida B. Wells resident Carlos Estes. Photo by Crystal Medina

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Deadly Moves: Moving at Their Own Risk

by  and Brian J. Rogal

The Redevelopment of public housing creates new dangers
Nicole Wright thought her new home in Englewood would be safer than the Robert Taylor Homes. Last fall, her family was displaced from the dilapidated high-rise at 4037 S. Federal St., one of dozens demolished under the Chicago Housing Authority’s Plan for Transformation.

Her new neighborhood is filled with blocks where trees shade homes with big porches, and neighbors sit out and enjoy the pleasant weather. But this area is also plagued by drugs and gang violence. Like many relocated out of public housing developments, Wright had a teenage son, Kemp, 16. Teenagers can be dangerous for families leaving public housing, even if they are not members of a street gang. And gang members in Englewood looked upon the Wright family with suspicion.
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Positive People

by  Editorial Assistant

Janice Patton

Janice Patton was a resident of the Robert Taylor Homes for 29 years and was relocated to the Prairie Parks Apartments with a Housing Choice Voucher. She’s resided there for four years.

Patton first moved to the development from Meridian, Mississippi. She describes the move as going from middle income to the ghetto and says it was a culture shock to see the way people lived. She says CHA tried but there was always a different commissioner.
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Report: Residents Steered to Poor Areas

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A new report finds that the Chicago Housing Authority is not making promised improvements to its “Plan for Transformation,” the ongoing, massive effort to redevelop virtually all of the city’s public housing stock.

Sudhir Venkatesh, a sociologist at Columbia University and a board member of We The People Media, discovered that the agency has largely failed to stop the flow of residents into other low-income, African American neighborhoods. In a new top-to-bottom review of the third year of the Plan for Transformation, Venkatesh found CHA has not kept its promise to care for those individuals and families who were living off the lease, the so-called squatters.
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The Shocking Truth about CHA

by  Assistant Editor

Residents in the Robert Taylor Homes are being judged as non-lease compliant due to their electric utility bills and may lose their right to return to public housing units in the new mixed-income communities which are planned to replace the current developments. CHA’s relocation contract with its residents stipulates that if a resident is not current or on a payment plan concerning their utilities, they will not receive replacement housing, a Housing Choice Voucher or have the right to return to public housing.

But the shocking truth is that CHA may itself be responsible for making many residents non-lease compliant. Back in 1998, CHA dropped the ball when it came to registering buildings in Robert Taylor Homes for electric utility service, according to an RJ investigation. Read more »

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