What Happened To The East Chicago Residents Forced Out By Pollution?

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Tara Adams (left) and Demetra Turner (right) were forced to leave the West Calumet Housing Complex in East Chicago, Indiana due to pollution.
East Chicago II Thumbnail New
Tara Adams (left) and Demetra Turner (right) were forced to leave the West Calumet Housing Complex in East Chicago, Indiana due to pollution.

What Happened To The East Chicago Residents Forced Out By Pollution?

Curious City has received several questions about pollution in East Chicago, Indiana — the location of one of the largest cases of lead exposure in U.S. history. A couple of months ago, we answered a question about how pollution has impacted East Chicago residents. In this episode, we answer a different question about what happened to the public housing residents who were living in the area but were forced to move because of pollution.

Since 2016, more than 1,100 people were forced to leave the West Calumet Housing Complex in East Chicago because of contamination from lead and arsenic. We follow two former residents, Tara and Demetra, as they fight to get a roof over their head and navigate a complicated bureaucracy. We learn that even when things worked out, it came with consequences.

Kevin Stark is a Chicago-based reporter. You can follow him @StarkKev. Special thanks to Kari Lydersen, Shelby Fleig, Siobhan Neela-Stock, Rowan Lynam, and the Social Justice News Nexus at Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism.