By Jim Williams

CHICAGO (CBS) — We’ve seen signs the economy is improving, but in the Edgewater neighborhood today, we saw how many Chicagoans are struggling.

CBS’s 2 Jim Williams has the story in this original report.

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It was a desperate attempt for a home: A line of thousands waited on Sheridan Road, north of Foster and around the corner.

Many, like Crystal Cooper, had been there all night.

“We’ve been here since 8 o’clock last night. We slept in our chairs with our covers,” said Cooper.

They waited for an application for subsidized housing – only an application with no guarantee of an apartment.

Moreover, security guard Hebert Furlow knew only a couple hundred units were available. Slim odds, but he and the others needed help.

“It’s definitely hard to make ends meet,” said Furlow.

At times, some grew impatient and some jumped the line. Cops were called in.

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Neighborhood residents blamed the real estate company, the Kopley Group.

One neighbor described the process as, “very, very uncoordinated, unprofessional.”

City sources told us they urged the Kopley Group to issue numbers to the applicants a suggestion rejected.

Still, Herbert Furlow considered himself fortunate he got an application.

“It’s been a struggle,” said Furlow.

For three days, those long lines were at Sheridan and Foster.

We made numerous attempts to reach the Kopley Group to ask whether the process could have been managed better.

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A spokesman for the Chicago Housing Authority says the CHA has nothing to do with that project.