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Activists ask mayor to halt housing demolition plans

by Andrew Hedlund
Oct 03, 2012

The Chicago Housing Initiative called on Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Housing Authority Wednesday morning to remove public housing demolition plans from the agency’s 2013 plan.

More than 700 units could be knocked down if the city proceeds with these plans, the Initiative said in a news conference at City Hall. The housing authority is due to send its plans to the Department of Housing and Urban Development on Oct. 18.

The advocacy group sent Emanuel a letter requesting a meeting to discuss the possible demolition, saying, “this document restricts the availability of public housing units for people who could benefit from them in multiple ways.”

“CHA must follow its mission to provide housing for the most in need,” said Jessie Avraham, with the Jane Addams Senior Caucus.

Nearly 60,000 very low-income households are on the CHA waiting lists, according to the Initiative.

Residents of public housing pay 30 percent of their income each month as rent. Those who do not have any income pay $75 a month, the Initiative’s media contact said.

The largest buildings scheduled to be demolished are the Altgeld/Murray Homes, located at 976 E. 132nd Place, which have 650 units, and Scattered Sites-Norfolk, located at 501-547 W. 58th St. and 525-539 W. 56th Place, which have 57. Five more sites may be demolished as well.

A Chicago Housing Authority spokeswoman responded in an email, “CHA is also working to establish a new plan for Lathrop, Cabrini, and Altgeld. The goal is to ensure each of these three communities best serves residents by offering quality affordable housing, but also jobs, good schools, and other key amenities that will enrich each development. Our goal is to continue to have an open public-input process regarding these developments.”


She said CHA plans to have 607 more units online by 2014.

Jim Miller, a homeless veteran who spoke at the news conference, said he would benefit from public housing. He said he went to Iran in 1980 to rescue the hostages, but the helicopter mission failed.

He now stays at the Safe Haven Homeless Shelter and has benefitted from the grants-per-diem program through the Veterans Affairs, which he will be on for two years.

“The worst part with the whole thing was I couldn’t have my wife with me because we weren’t married when I served in the Marine Corps,” Miller said.

His wife stays at the Lawson YMCA. He believes they will get into public housing next year when his grants-per-diem program ends.