Reporting Lisa Fielding
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CHICAGO (CBS) — Residents of a the Lathrop Homes public housing development, at Diversey Parkway and the Chicago River’s North Branch, are fighting to stay in their homes in wake of a CHA renovation project.
As WBBM Newsradio’s Lisa Fielding reports, residents of Lathrop Homes say they’ve always been guaranteed one thing by the Chicago Housing Authority – that those residents that wanted to stay through the entire revitalization process would be allowed to do so.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Lisa Fielding reports
“Residents should be able to stay here, because residents have been told they can stay here and the CHA needs to make good on its promises,” said Rev. Kevin Bruursema, pastor of the New Life Community Church.
“We call upon them as a moral obligation,” Bruursema continued, “not to hide behind legal language and legal outs on what they might be able to do but instead on a moral ground to make good on what’s become a decade long process of redevelopment this has been in this community.”
The CHA originally said residents would be allowed to stay during upgrades next year. But now CHA officials say residents may have to leave before construction begins over safety issues or utilities may stop working.
“As of right now, there are no safety issues at Lathrop, or any other conditions for which relocation would be appropriate. CHA is not presently considering any relocations, and will continue to work with residents throughout the redevelopment process.” according to CHA Spokesperson Matt Aguilar.
But Lathrop spokesman Robert Davidson says they’ve been given conflicting information.
“Not only have we been told we have to go, but also have been told that we, the current residents, do not have a priority to return,” Davidson said.
Lathrop residents fear they’ll be kicked out as redevelopment approaches.
“I know this place as well as anybody. And that gives me a sense of community. That makes me feel good about living where I’m living,” said long time resident J.L Gross.
Built in 1938, Lathrop crawls northwest between the river and Clybourn Avenue to Wellington Avenue, and south along Damen Avenue to its river crossing, at what would be approximately Wrightwood Avenue.
The CHA has touted Lathrop as an ethnically diverse family public housing development. But it remains a low-income island surrounded by an increasingly wealthy section of the city.
To date, only about 170 of the development’s 925 units are still occupied. All of the homes north of Diversey Parkway have been vacated.
The CHA wants to turn the homes a into mixed income development.
The Lathrop Homes are the one of the last remaining public housing developments north of Madison Street.
Not too many years ago, a trip two miles south from Lathrop Clybourn Avenue would have led to the sprawling brick and concrete high-rises Cabrini-Green — which covered about 2 square miles. But today, all that is left of Cabrini-Green are the rowhouses that originally comprised the development.