The remaining residents of a housing complex in Indiana plagued by dangerously high lead levels in the soil are asking for more time to find new, permanent homes.
The East Chicago Housing Authority assigned the nearly 70 families remaining in the West Calumet Housing Complex to temporary homes elsewhere in town in order to prepare for property demolition. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development officials say 17 families are in the process of moving into a new place.
Community members prepared a campaign Friday to flood the phones of local, state and federal politicians. They also plan to protest at City Hall and the East Chicago Housing Authority in the afternoon.
Residents said they hope added public pressure will allow families to stay put while they seek housing.
East Chicago Mayor Anthony Copeland said in a statement he'd never advocate moving residents involuntarily unless there was a public safety issue.
"Waiting is not a feasible option, because each day that passes results in a delay in our ability to make the changes needed to improve the neighborhood and to remove any environmental hazards," he said.
Resident Demetra Turner said her family's displacement to the South Side of Chicago, even temporarily, is a more serious threat to safety. She said she and her children moved from Chicago about 10 years ago to escape gang violence.
"I have a son. He is a good kid. I ain't never had to get him out of jail. No drug selling. No gang bangin'," Turner said during a community meeting in East Chicago. "And I plan on keeping them that way. . I will not let them send me back to Chicago."