Last family moves out of Cabrini-Green

December 10, 2010 4:19:40 AM PST
The last family living in the Cabrini-Green high-rises moved out of the complex Thursday.Even though the mother and her four kids were the last people living in an empty high-rise in poor condition, it was still home for them.

"I was the last woman standing," said Annie Ricks.

Annie Ricks didn't seek the spotlight, but found herself in it Thursday as she and her family became the last residents to move out of the last building in Chicago's infamous Cabrini-Green housing project.

Rose Ricks, 17, watched with several different emotions as the moving boxes rolled out of the door and into trucks at the 1230 Burling building at Cabrini-Green.

"I been here basically my whole life like it's hard leaving, when you've got so much memories of it, you knew everyone, you felt safe," said Rose Ricks, a Lincoln Park High School student.

Rose Ricks, her three siblings, and her mother, Annie, 54, are the last tenants to move out of the last standing Cabrini-Green high-rise. The Ricks family lived in Cabrini for 21 years.

"We lived here so... we saw the good and the bad, but there was more good than there was bad," said Deonte Ricks, part of the family. "We had fun over here."

"I'm gonna miss the building because I was so used to everybody there," said Annie Ricks.

The original ten-section housing project was built over a 20-year period and completed in 1962. In the last decade, the high-rises have come down and new development has gone up.

The Chicago Housing Authority has been helping to move families out before demolition. Officials said that since the Ricks family was the only one left, the building's occupancy had gotten too low for safety.

"It was a good neighborhood with the people who lived over here - it was like family, so it's just hard for her moving somewhere else and not knowing anybody, and just to have to change the whole scene," said Latasha Ricks.

Former resident and Cabrini-Green Advisory Council member Marvin Edwards is helping family with the transition. For now, the CHA is moving them to another public housing unit: Wentworth Gardens, near U.S. Cellular Field.

Edwards says he wants to help them get back into the area eventually.

Edwards says he wants to "make sure that CHA - the promises that they made [are] the promises that they keep, and as far as when the new housing is built back here on Cabrini land, that she has a right to return here," said Edwards.

In the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, Cabrini was home to 15,000 people. As the CHA demolished old high rises and scattered residents throughout the city and into some suburbs, the number of tenants dropped to just 39 last year.

The CHA said Thursday that the housing conditions for the Ricks family will be considerably better in their new location.

The Ricks wanted to stay in new mixed income housing in the same neighborhood. The CHA denied that request but offered several other options. They settled on a complex six miles south within earshot of the Dan Ryan.

"We're talking about cleaner units, safer units, more modern units and talking about units that are more connected to a community," said Chicago Housing Authority CEO Lewis Jordan.

Former Cabrini-Green tenant Valerie Beckol was among those who made the same move to the new complex in June. She said she liked "the Greens" better.

"It's nice, but as far as getting around, you need a car. There's no stores," said Beckol. "You gotta travel by bus or car and a lot of people don't have bus fare."

Ricks arrived at Wentworth Gardens on the South Side and immediately found a few familiar faces.

"I know some folks from Cabrini - it makes me feel kind of good." said Ricks. "I'm gonna be alright, but it's not home. It's not home."


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