By: Nicholas Samuel
Boarded up windows and doors can be seen at most apartments in a housing project that may no longer be standing in years to come. Robert Davidson, president of the Local Advisory Council for Julia C. Lathrop Homes, urged the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) Wednesday (10/10/12) to halt its possible plans for demolition of the public housing unit along with two others, Altgeld Gardens/Phillip Murray Homes and Cabrini-Green.
Davidson said residents fear they will be displaced because of this demolition.
“Residents are screaming, ‘What’s going to happen to us?’,” said Davidson. “The CHA is going to jam residents in scattered sites.”
This renovation is part of the CHA’s Moving To Work annual plan for the fiscal year 2013. For Lathrop, Cabrini-Green and Altgeld Gardens, the plan includes possible demolitions of some or all units.
Wendy Parks, director of communications for CHA, said there are no current plans to demolish the three housing projects.
“Residents are not being asked to move,” said Parks. “The demolition would only be for unoccupied units.”
Out of these unoccupied units, Parks said, 648 could possibly be demolished at Altgeld/Murray and up to 437 at Cabrini-Green. She also said the CHA is considering three scenarios for the future of Lathrop, but said it doesn’t know what the scenarios will entail. Parks said that the scenarios would be introduced at a public open house in coming weeks.
Only 160 apartments are occupied at Lathrop, which contains 925 apartments total.
“We started out with 143,000 residents,” said Davidson. “We currently have 60,000 people on the waiting list.”
Under the Moving To Work agreement, the CHA submits an annual plan and report to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), according to the CHA website. The Plan for Transformation, a project 12 years in the making to renovate 25,000 public housing units, also functions under the agreement.
Davidson said Lathrop was not listed for demolition in the original Plan for Transformation agreement.
“How do they change the concept of a process to demolish?” said Davidson. “I thought the plan was a bad omen then, and I think it’s a bad omen now.”
Davidson has been a member of the Local Advisory Council for Lathrop since 1999. In February, he entered the housing project in the National Register of Historic Places. He said Lathrop has many amenities surrounding it, such as different shopping centers and great grammar schools.
He also said Lathrop has a majority of mixed-income residents.
Davidson has been working with support groups such as the Logan Square Neighborhood Association to fight this issue.
Sandra Cornwell, secretary for the Local Advisory Council for Lathrop, dedicated a poem to CHA in which she called the organization a bunch of backstabbing smiling faces. She has served as a community assistant for 20 years.
“The CHA is trying to eliminate public housing for the poor,” said Cornwell, who has lived at Lathrop for 24 years.