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Hope and a helping hand – A positive for public housing

March 8, 1998 | Curtis Lawrence

When I was a kid, our family would breeze down the Dan Ryan Expy. in our station wagon headed home to our middle-class neighborhood.

My father says my sister, brother and I would gaze up at the towering public housing developments between 35th and 55th streets and say, “Dad, why can’t we live there?”

As I grew older, my fantasies about the buildings that touched the sky faded. I heard news accounts and tales about life in housing complexes – the shootings, the chronic unemployment, the seeming lack of family values. But I didn’t hear much about people like Jeanette Wallace. She’s a Dearborn Homes resident who is a crew leader for the Muhammad Ali Community and Economic Development Corp. [READ MORE]

Curtis Lawrence. “Hope and a helping hand // A positive for public housing.” Chicago Sun-Times. Sun-Times News Group. 1998. HighBeam Research. 13 Aug. 2018

Muhammad Ali Shows How A Real Champ Helps Others

Muhammad Ali Shows How A Real Champ Helps Others.

Former heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali was recently in Chicago, Ill., to tout the Chicago Housing Authority’s partnership program with his Community and Economic Development Corporation.

Ali met with more than 100 residents of all ages at the Robert Taylor Boys and Girls Club, and noted that the jobs program established by his organization and the CHA fills residents “with feeling that they can do something for themselves and make a living.”

CHA Executive Director Joseph Shuldiner said that for every $2 that Ali’s organization will provide, the CHA will give $1 in matching funds. That money reportedly will be used to hire and train residents to repair vacant units so the places can be used for occupancy. [Read More Here]

CHA Residents Begin Training For the Future

Chicago Tribune photos by Carl Wagner

Many of the 112 residents of the Robert Taylor Homes who were hired under the Resident Jobs Initiative program begin their training as custodians Tuesday. Residents such as Dorothy Green (left) wasted little time in getting to work after a morning news conference. Under the Chicago Housing Authority initiative, residents receive training that enables them to obtain full-time jobs or begin their own businesses.


Author Chicago Tribune

CHA residents begin training for the future

112 at Taylor Home Begins Punching Clock

112 at Taylor Home Begins Punching Clock

Original Article Scan

By Olivia Wu – Chicago Sun-Times


       With some of their own as bosses, 112 residents of the Robert Taylor Homes on Tuesday stepped into new jobs and training as part of what the CHA claims is its “largest employment program.”

It’s a response to national leaders “who have said that public housing residents need to work,” said Ron Carter, director of economic development for the Chicago Housing Authority.

The CHA joined forces with the Muhammad Ali Community and Economic Development Corp. and the Community Workshop on Economic Development. Elected local advisory councils of Robert Taylor will act as employers of a new cleaning service.

The new janitorial program joins the car-wash, laundry and childcare initiatives already in progress. The goal is to provide entry-level, part-time jobs.

Elaina Robertson, 29, a mother of four, received a cleaning service job. “It means a lot,” she said. “It means I’ll be in the community and it will be a clean place.”

Robertson previously worked as a cashier in a gas station. “I want to be able to better myself,” she said.

Chavel Adams, 29, a mother of three, emphasized the commitment to community. Adams said she last_ worked at a nursing home and has been on public aid “too long.” She took on this program because “I wanted to contribute to the community.”

The CHA hopes the small businesses eventually will move into the private sector, Carter said.

At the same time that new workers in the CHA train on the job, they, as well as their bosses, attend classes in life skills, vocational and career development.

Altogether, CHA is investing $1 million to $1.2 million of its operational budget on the venture.

Participants should be self-sufficient in between six months to two years, Carter said.

Marvin Jackson, 26, was born in the South Side’s Taylor homes. He signed up for the better pay ($7.50 an hour) to “stay way from trouble” and to set an example to the kids in the Community.

Jackson previously worked at a Taco Bell restaurant that was far away and difficult to get to. The Du Sable High School graduate hopes that this initiative “leads me to a better position.”

CHA Has Nations Poorest, Study Says

CHA Has Nation’s Poorest, Study Says

By Maudlyne lhejirika – Chicago Sun-Times

1995-01-26 CHA Has Nation’s Poorest Study Says – Chicago Sun-Times

Staff Writer

   The nation’s poorest people can be found here in Chicago, specifically in 11 Chicago Housing Authority developments with predominantly black populations, a new study finds.

                The study, to be released today, found that nine of the nation’s 10 poorest neighborhoods are CHA developments. When looking at the nation’s 15 poorest neighborhood, that number rises to include 11 CHA developments. Roosevelt University urbanologist Pierre deVise’s findings shocked many, especially those who learned they were the poorest poor nationwide.

                Anger was an overriding feeling for some of those who learned they were among the poorest, and there was skepticism over the methodology of the study deVise based on per-capita income taken from the 1990 census.

                Critics say deVise’s list exaggerates the findings because many of the poorest of the poor nationwide are separated by only a few dollars.

                “It can’t be true. It’s just not true.” said Francine Washington, a tenant representative at Stateway Gardens, characterized as the poorest neighborhood nationwide, with a 1989 per capita income of $1,650. That was down from a per capita of $2,866 a decade earlier.

                “How do you think I feel when someone says that?” Washington said. “That study doesn’t take into account people like me living here who work every day, or so many other residents who get up every morning and go to school or to job training programs. Poor is a state of mind. How dare you label us that way?”

                “You simply can’t tell me there’s no poorer neighborhoods in Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, D.C.,” said Wilma Sims, a lifelong resident of Robert Taylor Homes.

                Residents of Taylor, the nation’s largest public housing development found their development made the top 10 list three times, as it spans several tracts.

                Among the 10 poorest, the only one not in Chicago was Watts, a predominantly black neighborhood in Los Angeles. The poorest 15 include three others outside the city: a predominantly Latino neighborhood in San Antonio, a predominantly black neighborhood in Dallas and an Indian reservation in South Dakota.

                Others in Chicago found no element of surprise in deVise’s findings, pointing to the fact that 90 percent of CHA families live on public assistance, with the same percentage of families headed by single women.

                “It substantiates what I’ve been saying,” said CHA Chairman Vincent Lane. “It’s a sorry testament to what public policy has inflicted upon poor people in this country, and particularly poor blacks.

                “It’s disheartening. But you can bet I’ll be taking this data to [new House speaker] Newt [Gingrich] and the boys when I tell them let’s get on with mixed-income housing.”

                DeVise, whose annual studies on race issues here have often been at the center of controversy, said it is precisely the concentration of poverty unique to public housing here that explains Chicago’s poorest of the poor ranking.

                “What we have here in the 15 poorest neighborhoods is a super-concentration of families on welfare.” he said.

                “I myself was surprised to find that L.A. had only one neighborhood on the list and New York had none. It reflects a different policy by other cities and by their housing authorities to do a better job of dispersing- public housing and achieving economic mix.”


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