UPDATED 12/09/10 5:51 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — The last family moved out of the sole remaining high-rise in the Cabrini-Green public housing development Thursday.
The high-rises of Cabrini-Green came to represent some of the chronic problems with public housing. There was crime, neglect and filthy conditions. But for many thousands of people over the years, it was still home.
The Chicago Housing Authority had planned to close the high-rise at 1230 N. Burling St. on Nov. 30. Most of the remaining families moved out on that date, but one family refused to leave.
But a court order told them they had to go. So just before 11 a.m. Thursday, Annie Ricks, the matriarch of the last holdout family, walked out the door of the 134-unit building, which is slated for demolition early next year.
The Ricks’ children say their mother insisted on staying so the family could make a statement about the injustice of their forced relocation.
But Chicago Housing Authority officials said with only a few families in a 15-story building, it became too dangerous and costly for them to stay any longer. So when the movers came, it was time for the last family to say goodbye to the last high-rise in the legendary project.
When asked if Cabrini-Green still existed with the closure of the high-rise, Latasha Ricks said: “Yes, it does still exist. It’s always going to exist. It’s never going to die, in my heart.”
Asked how she felt about moving out, Rose Ricks said: “I feel kind of excited because change is good, but then again, I also feel like, for my safety, because they’re forcing us into another project. This is where I grew up. This is my home.”
Now, Ricks’ family will be located to Wentworth Gardens, a low-rise public housing development near U.S. Cellular Field.
Former Cabrini-Green resident Marvin Edwards relocated in July. He says he’s angry families were forced to leave their homes.
“We done been through the gang wars and loss of life here, and all of a sudden once we get that cured here, we’re relocated to areas throughout the city where there’s a high-crime area,” said Edwards.
“We feel very comfortable that the housing choices we make available are far more superior to that in which this family is leaving,” said CHA president Lewis Jordan.
The Burling Street building, known colloquially as “Scamplife,” is the last Cabrini-Green high-rise that remains standing and open. Originally, the CHA had not planned to close the building until Jan. 4, but officials moved the date back on the grounds that the building was no longer safe because of its low occupancy.
Cabrini-Green once sprawled from Evergreen Avenue on the north to Chicago Avenue on the south, and from the Brown-Purple Line ‘L’ tracks on the east to Halsted Street on the west.
Now, the original Cabrini row houses, built in 1942, are the only remaining part of the development that is occupied.
With the last move comes the final chapter for the last Cabrini high-rise to house residents. Demolition is slated for next year — ending an era in public housing.
CBS 2’s Mike Puccinelli and Roseanne Tellez contributed to this report.