CHA decision to vacate some Cabrini residents draws criticsm

September 2, 2011

The Chicago Housing Authority has issued relocation notices to residents in the non-rehabbed sections of the Cabrini Rowhouses. CHA says Cabrini has become too dangerous for the remaining 33 households, but critics say families will be forced to live in equally -- if not more -- dangerous areas.

The CHA issued the 180-day notices Thursday, giving current residents the option to move to other public housing or take vouchers for private landlord owned apartments.

"We are in the business of providing housing for people; we're not in the business of wanting to evict people. Hopefully, we're trying to move them into a situation of where they're pleased with their new surroundings," said Carlos Ponce, interim CEO for the CHA.

But critics of the plan, like Attorney Richard Wheelock, say that Cabrini residents could face more harm because of the relocation. According to Wheelock, families will have limited options for public housing, and won't have much better chances with the voucher program.

"Historically, we've seen that public housing families, frankly, are discriminated against," Wheelock said. "The vast majority of public housing families who are being relocated with vouchers end up moving to the West Side of Chicago or the South Side of Chicago, where the crime rate is much worse than the crime statistics that we're seeing for the near North Side or the Cabrini Rowhouses."

Ponce denies that residents would be relocated to more dangerous housing. He said CHA will be providing relocation services to families like counseling or assistance with moving.

Currently, residents in the non-rehabbed rowhouses make up 8 percent of the available space. The 146 rehabbed units in the rowhouses are not subject to the relocation notice. Ponce said the future of the non-rehabbed units is yet to be decided, but all lease compliant families can choose to move back to the Cabrini area once a decision has been made.