Target in Cabrini-Green

Yesterday was the first time I rode past the Cabrini-Green area in a long time. I purposely change my route if necessary in order to avoid it. 1230 N. Burling was the last of the buildings to be demolished, let alone a place I called home for over twenty years. When I moved, I still had close ties there such as family and friends. In fact, I hung out there more than I stayed home!

In spite of the violence of gang fights and shootings, Cabrini-Green was a safe haven to us residents, if you could believe that. We had a sense of security because everyone knew each other. If you had enough clout, you could occasionally invite someone from the "other end" to visit. The "other end" stood for a neighborhood where there's a rival gang.

My family moved to Cabrini-Green from Mohawk street in the early 70s. This Mohawk street is in the Old Town area, not to be confused with the Mohawk street in Cabrini. Oddly enough, the streets in Old Town such as Mohawk, Cleveland, Hudson, Sedgwick, and Oak were street names in Cabrini as well.

And now, back to our program, already in progress. The land that used to house the "whites" on the corner of Division and Larrabee is the new home of Target. I'm not sure if this was a marketing strategy, but to have a business named Target after the "targeted" Cabrini-Green is very timely. I know that time marches on and that it waits for no one, as Michael Jackson dearly put it.

Before the shift, tenants of Cabrini were offered a moving voucher, contingent upon good standing with CHA (Chicago Housing Authority). This means that the head-of-household must be free and clear of any criminal activity that would jeopardize losing their voucher/low income rent. Unfortunately for some, the leaseholder is a good citizen but were caught up with bad company. This company may consist of their children/grandchildren selling drugs from their household, or a visitor perhaps having drugs on them when they were busted there.

Anyway, whatever the reason, it comes a time when we have to render to Caesar the things that are his. Regarding Cabrini-Green (and other public housing), everyone was given a considerable amount of time for economic advancement. There were years when the economy was at its best but some tenants did not take advantage of that.

Public housing as a whole was created for families who could no other wise afford market-rate housing. During your stay, it was expected to get an education that would lead to economic advancement in order to live a life where your income was not dependent upon taxpayer's dollars.  It was not intended to be a haven for single moms to create a vicious cycle of having children out of wedlock, with no back up plan in place. I'm licensed to say this because I lived in the midst of it and it's not something I heard or read about.

Yes, it was very bittersweet to see Target on my old stomping grounds. After while, I may have to close my eyes in order to get a picture of what was.

Or, I can be like my mother and watch the movie Cooley High as a reference, which is a much better solution.

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