Over the last several weeks Chicago Magazine and the Chicago Sun Times have run several stories that included Chatham and one of the current issues that the community has to face. The main issue being that of residents coming from the former Chicago Housing Authority(CHA) State Street corridor or other subsidized housing developments throughout the city that were under the control of CHA. One report validates what a number of residents in my community believes the uptick in criminality is a direct result of CHA relocating individuals to our community and creating an economic incentive for private property owners to reap above market rental income by renting to individuals in the Housing Choice Voucher program or commonly known as “section 8”. In the Chatham community a two bedroom apartment rents normally for $750-850 per month but under the Section 8 program a property owner can rent the same unit for $1000-1200 per month. CHA states they conduct rent surveys and their numbers reflect fail market values. Secondly, CHA states that they relocated less than 200 “lease compliant”families to the Chatham community. So who is right and who is wrong? CHA has sent out representatives in the past to community meetings to state that their relocation and Section 8 program are not the cause of the increase in criminality but rather the economy is the root cause. The authors of the reports were not contacted for this post.
Frankly, I feel that both are contributors but not the main cause. I have received emails from former Chicago Police Department officers who worked the State Street Corridor and they state that they continually see individuals they had some contact with roaming the neighborhood. I’ve had my own personal experience with the “Section 8” neighbor from hell and their presence still has lingering effects on my block. Now, some will state that my community is picking on low income individuals and families, but those individuals do not know the history of Chatham. My community is proud that we have affordable decent housing and welcome like minded families to move to our community. If you go down practically any block you see the pride of ownership with manicured lawns and contractors working on properties. But when neighbors are barraged with loud blaring music from cars, public intoxication, card playing and barbecuing on the front lawn when a backyard is available, they become very irritated and now it has come to the point of being totally fed up as now brass/copper mailbox covers,metal gates, central air units and catalytic converters are being taken on a daily basis.
Another piece to this puzzle that I’m having problems with came out of a discussion I had with a former resident several years ago. Yes we have individuals relocating from CHA and some are rough around the collar but these same individuals were also relocated to the suburbs as well. So why is it that little Bobby who had a gangsta, grimy, gutter, ghetto persona living out in the suburb loses that persona? Once the community stands and says we don’t accept this type of behavior he changes his persona and now is Bobby wants to go to college because that is what the other teenagers are doing. Unfortunately, when little Bobby moves to my community and others in the city, the persona intensifies causing problems in the neighborhood, schools parks and moves into other families homes as their child Charles becomes “Lil Charles” based off his relationship with “Lil Bobby”.
So are we too lenient as a community? Are we not instilling values in our children or is the Gangsta,Grimy,Gutter, and Ghetto concept too ingrained in our society?
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Tags: 6th ward, 75th street, 79th street, 87th street, alderman, brass, buildings, capcc, central air units, chicago housing authority, chicago park district, chicago police department, city of chicago, crime, criminality, economic development, gangsta, ghetto, grimy, Housing Choice Voucher program, liquor, metals.copper, property, rent, roderick sawyer, theft, violence