Revision Street: Voices from the Whittier Elementary School Field House -- Lisa Angonese (III)

October 6, 2010

Lisa has been sleeping at the Whittier Dual Language Elementary School field house for three weeks now, where the Chicago Public Schools yesterday had People’s Gas turned off the heat and hot water supply to the building. CPS CEO Ron Huberman claims it was because the donated library books are causing a fire hazard: The moms see it as a deliberate attempt to oust them from La Casita. CPS now says that another inspection of the building will be completed—once the protest ends. Protestors, however, remain concerned that the demolition crew pictured in this post—already on contract with CPS to do the job, employees from Robinette Demolition said—won’t provide an unbiased opinion.


The Whittier Dual Language Elementary School is over a century old (photo by Sarah-Ji)

The inspection Lisa Angonese refers to below was a visual inspection, conducted by Ingenii, LLC. It clearly states the roof requires repair, but the building seems to be habitable once that’s been completed. This interview was completed two and a half weeks ago, before the hot water was shut off.

There was an inspector that looked over the building already, and we have the paperwork. It is habitable. We have hot and cold running water, there’s no holes in the roof. This is better than even my own apartment, where I have a leaky sink and things like that. There’s other buildings in Pilsen, by the way, that are in worse shape than this building, that are still operational—because they are making money.

The way that I got involved with this is taking my kids to the park after school, in that little playground here, and seeing everybody in front, here. I thought maybe if I donated money, but I don’t have any money—I’m a low-income parent. I said, Well, I’ll sign a petition.

She said, The petition has already been sent in. Over 700 names, nearly a thousand names, sent in to Mr. Ron Huberman, and no response. At Benito Juarez there were mothers with signs, just expressing their concerns. The [politicians] get into their car, turn around and drive away, completely ignore pregnant mothers with their children. Are we that horrible? Are we that monstrous that they can’t look us in the face and listen to our concerns? We’re American citizens and we’re tax-payers, even though we’re women. And we feel that we’re being discriminated against as women here. So there’s a lot of issues.

Are all of the people who’ve been staying here women?

Here and there there’s a couple of men, they sleep on a sleeping bag. We all take shifts. We’re working this kind of like the military—we have a piece of paper that says what job we’re going to do and when. There’s a morning shift, an afternoon shift, and a night shift. And we always have people here, 24 hours, around the clock.

What do you need most right from people right now?

This is an old building. I just heard today from another woman here, one of the mothers, that Whittier is 115 years old, and that this building could indeed be that old. Outside it’s showing some, what you might call weatherization problems. I had seen it from CEDA.* There are buildings that need weatherization help, and that’s even an idea now, as I’m talking to you, is maybe CEDA could help us weatherize this building. Put the little foam around the windows or whatever we need to save electricity, and to help us make this a green building as well as a rehab building. So we’re working on a lot of different aspects here.

*The Community and Economic Development Association of Cook County works with communities to develop self-sufficiency and improve quality of life for families and individuals.

The inspection Lisa Angonese refers to below was a visual inspection, conducted by Ingenii, LLC. It clearly states the roof requires repair, but the building seems to be habitable once that’s been completed. This interview was completed two and a half weeks ago, before the hot water was shut off.

There was an inspector that looked over the building already, and we have the paperwork. It is habitable. We have hot and cold running water, there’s no holes in the roof. This is better than even my own apartment, where I have a leaky sink and things like that. There’s other buildings in Pilsen, by the way, that are in worse shape than this building, that are still operational—because they are making money.

The way that I got involved with this is taking my kids to the park after school, in that little playground here, and seeing everybody in front, here. I thought maybe if I donated money, but I don’t have any money—I’m a low-income parent. I said, Well, I’ll sign a petition.

She said, The petition has already been sent in. Over 700 names, nearly a thousand names, sent in to Mr. Ron Huberman, and no response. At Benito Juarez there were mothers with signs, just expressing their concerns. The [politicians] get into their car, turn around and drive away, completely ignore pregnant mothers with their children. Are we that horrible? Are we that monstrous that they can’t look us in the face and listen to our concerns? We’re American citizens and we’re tax-payers, even though we’re women. And we feel that we’re being discriminated against as women here. So there’s a lot of issues.

Are all of the people who’ve been staying here women?

Here and there there’s a couple of men, they sleep on a sleeping bag. We all take shifts. We’re working this kind of like the military—we have a piece of paper that says what job we’re going to do and when. There’s a morning shift, an afternoon shift, and a night shift. And we always have people here, 24 hours, around the clock.

What do you need most right from people right now?

This is an old building. I just heard today from another woman here, one of the mothers, that Whittier is 115 years old, and that this building could indeed be that old. Outside it’s showing some, what you might call weatherization problems. I had seen it from CEDA.* There are buildings that need weatherization help, and that’s even an idea now, as I’m talking to you, is maybe CEDA could help us weatherize this building. Put the little foam around the windows or whatever we need to save electricity, and to help us make this a green building as well as a rehab building. So we’re working on a lot of different aspects here.

*The Community and Economic Development Association of Cook County works with communities to develop self-sufficiency and improve quality of life for families and individuals.