History | Housing Issue 2018

A Shelter, Fallen Out of Favor

A Cold War legacy in the basement of a 55th Street firehouse

Kiran Misra

Nothing in the facade of the fire station at the intersection of 55th and University Avenue betrays the location, underneath the firehouse, of a Cold War–era bomb shelter. All functioning bomb shelters are alike, but each decommissioned shelter was decommissioned in its own way. This one turned into a gym.

Housing Issue 2018

Know Your Rights: Eviction

Answers to common questions from renters facing eviction

Lizzie Smith

Eviction is bad enough by itself—what’s worse is losing your bearings in the complicated legal process. For this year’s Housing Issue, the Weekly has put together a list of questions designed to help renters understand the eviction process and inform renters of their legally protected rights. Our aim is to help renters make informed decisions and avoid harms that could be prevented. But remember: this guide isn’t a substitute for legal advice. It’s important that tenants facing eviction seek legal help.

Housing Issue 2018

The Rent Control Debate

Where rents rise and wages stagnate, affordable housing is a package deal

Jason Schumer

On January 31, around twenty housing activists blocked traffic on the first floor of the James R. Thompson Center. They brandished banners and placards and demanded support for rent control from Governor Bruce Rauner, whose office is housed at the Thompson Center.

Essays | Housing Issue 2018

Through the Cracks

Ellen Hao

There but for the Grace of God go I” is a phrase I often hear said by those witness to someone else’s misfortune. When the misfortune is homelessness, people often say how they are only one paycheck away from homelessness themselves. Yet for the majority, that one paycheck continues to come and the roof remains over their head, no matter how precariously.

Housing

From Lithuania to Cabrini-Green

Cross-cultural event offers new perspectives on housing and displacement

Suitcases arranged in front of a photograph of displaced persons at the Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture. (Julie Xu)

Twenty-two year old Raymond Shaq McDonald was a child when the high rises at Cabrini-Green fell. Nijole Kasuba, a grandmother now, was just seven when her family decided to flee the advancing Red Army after they saw family members deported and killed in Siberia during the first Soviet Occupation in the 1940s. Their stories of displacement might seem very different, but last Saturday’s event, part of Inherit Chicago’s intercultural festival, explored the similarities in these stories of displacement.

Housing | Politics

Redeveloping the State Street Corridor: An Update

Ellen Hao

In January, the Weekly published an investigation into the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA)’s failure to redevelop public housing in Bronzeville after demolishing much of it in the early 2000s. The demolition of projects such as Ida B. Wells, Robert Taylor, and Stateway Gardens was part of the now-notorious Plan for Transformation, a federally funded initiative that promised to replace the demolished high-rises with new housing developments that would combine subsidized and market-rate housing units. The Plan also promised that the CHA would rebuild or rehabilitate a total of 25,000 units overall. 

Housing

After fire, South Side youth shelter Ujima Village fears for future of homeless teens

Following a period of progress, closures and a fire create resource desert

Natalie Gonzalez

Nearly a month ago, the South Side’s only emergency shelter for homeless youth was badly damaged in a sudden and unexplained fire. The shelter, Ujima Village, was located on 73rd Street just off the Dan Ryan expressway, and provided beds for some twenty-four homeless young people every night. Some of those beds were dedicated to long-term residents of the shelter, while others were available to whoever arrived first on a given night.

Housing | Politics

Restoring a Political Leader’s Home

Preservation project announced for former home of South Side congressman and alderman Oscar De Priest

Courtesy of Landmarks Illinois

On January 12, the National Park Service (NPS) granted funding for preservation projects on thirty-nine African American and Civil Rights landmarks across the United States. The African American Civil Rights Grant Program was approved by Congress in 2016 through the Historic Preservation fund, which uses “revenue from federal oil leases on the Outer Continental Shelf to provided assistance for a broad range of preservation projects without expanding tax dollars,” according to the NPS. Spread over twenty states, the grants cover the restoration, preservation, and education costs of landmarks such as the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Alabama, which was bombed by white supremacists during the Civil Rights Movement, and Central High in Little Rock, Arkansas, one of the first schools to undergo forced desegregation after Brown v. Board of Education.

Community | Housing

Cooperative Engagement

Qumbya Housing Cooperative expands its neighborhood presence into Bronzeville

Residents at Concord House sit down for a dinner of lentil stew (Katie Bart)

A typical Monday night at Concord House unfolds with a motley group of nearly twenty adults dishing up bowls of lentil stew in their Hyde Park home. A strong family dynamic is evident in the dining room, which is adorned with photos, calendars, and bulletin boards; a crowded bookshelf; and a central table, upon which rest six bunches of bananas, a carton of assorted hot sauces, and an oversized jar of some mystery vegetable, presumably pickled, labelled “DO NOT STIR.” Like many of the objects in the three-story home, these table items are communally shared among its residents, who are related not by blood but rather by chosen lifestyle: that of the housing cooperative.