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Former Ickes Homes Residents Want Replacement Housing Built

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CHICAGO (CBS) – Some public housing residents who were displaced when their high-rise buildings were demolished on the South Side have been trying to pressure the Chicago Housing Authority to build replacement housing.

Those residents gathered at State Street and Cermak Road on Thursday, in a grassy field surrounded by wrought iron fencing – the former site of the Harold Ickes public housing complex in the gentrifying Bronzeville neighborhood.

Loretta Henderis said she moved into the development in 1968, and wants to come back to the area.

“I loved the Ickes. I would love to come back. I live out west and I hate it over there,” she said.

Activist Rod Wilson, executive director of the Lugenia Burns Hope Center, said public housing residents, who were scattered around the city when CHA high rises were torn down over the past decade or so, are strangers in the neighborhoods where they’re now living. They’re often unsafe in the new areas where they live.

“We forget that these were communities,” he said, adding that the residents had friends and support systems they’ve lost because of the CHA’s transformation project.

Wilson said the CHA promised residents of the Ickes Homes that replacement housing would be built.

Indeed, the agency has plans to do so, but Wilson said the plans are vague, and it has been several years since the residents were scattered when the wrecking balls came in.

Wilson said the CHA gets millions of dollars each year for replacement housing; however, he noted the number of people displaced far exceeds the number of replacement units built.

The CHA has a plan it calls “Moving to Work,” which includes replacing some of the lost public housing units, and it was taking public comment on the plan until 5 p.m. Friday.

Wilson asked supporters go to the CHA’s website, thecha.org, and voice support for re-building public housing in the communities where it was torn down.

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