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Squatters Worry About Homelessness

by  Assistant Editor

Many residents of public housing are asking the public, what would you do if you had no money, no job and no place to call home? How low would you go? Would you become a squatter?

I’m running into many squatters as I continue to do my research with professor Sudhir Venkatesh from Columbia University, author of American Project.

Take, for instance, a young man who’s squatting in one of the vacant units in a Chicago Housing Authority development, a young man known to the other building residents as “Larry.” I asked him how he got to be a squatter? Read more »

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A Smooth Transition For Section 8?

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When a number of Chicago buildings began opting out of the project-based Section 8 program earlier this year, many people worried it would cause another homelessness crisis like that of the ‘80s, when low-income families witnessed friends, neighbors and even relatives wandering the streets without shelter. But tenants, their advocates and government agencies are reporting that everything is going well so far with respect to the change from project-based Section 8 subsidies to enhanced vouchers.

Holidays are fast approaching and, as a veteran activist since the 1960s, I have been stressed out about this new threat and not just because I am personally affected. I am currently living in the Del Prado in Hyde Park, one of the buildings that chose to opt out of the project-based Section 8 program. These buildings were built or rehabbed with government support and, in return, the government demanded that the building owners keep at least a part of the building as low-income housing. Once the building owners pay off their loan from the government, they can decide whether or not they want to stay in the program. The owner of my building chose to get out of the program. Read more »

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Homelessness: A Constant American Tragedy

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When it comes to homelessness, the City of Chicago is going the way of Dr. Frankenstein. In the books and movies, Dr. Frankenstein did not foresee the havoc, chaos and destruction wrought by his monster. By making the monster, Frankenstein thought somehow the world would benefit by his creation. He sought to control his creation. But in the end, his monster was uncontrollable.

In the current scenario playing out in this city, the Chicago Housing Authority and the City of Chicago appear to be playing the part of Dr. Frankenstein. The monster is the CHA’s Plan for Transformation. Read more »

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Squatters in CHA

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Residents of CHA hear a lot about being lease compliant and so many people are afraid. It seems that lease compliance will keep us from receiving a Housing Choice Voucher or coming back to our own development after relocation. Whether it’s in a big or small way, almost everybody is in some way non-lease compliant.

What made me bring this up is a recent phone call to the Residents’ Journal office from a resident. She was furious about squatters in her development. The squatters were people who just took over a vacant unit and moved in. The squatters acted like they had a lease agreement, putting in curtains, furniture and the whole nine yards. They had a rent-free home. The resident’s management company was notified and the lock on the unit was changed. But the squatters found another unit in the development. Read more »

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The State Of Section 8

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Advocates for public and subsidized housing tenants provided residents and activists with new information about HUD and CHA at a conference April 28 in downtown Chicago. The conference was held in the beautiful surroundings of the Holiday Inn located on the corner of Columbus and Ohio streets. This conference in many ways resembled the one held March 16 by the Chicago Rehab Network at the Palmer House Hotel. This conference was far more interactive that the March 16 event; participants attended various workshops.

The workshops were geared towards the distribution of new information. Due to the workshops’ small size, the atmosphere was that of an intense training ground for activists. It was an atmosphere in which everyone appeared excited and eager to get involved. Everyone – whites and Blacks, rich and poor, scholarly and unlearned harmonized. Read more »

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