Last 31 Cabrini-Green families evicted

May 19, 2010 (CHICAGO) But some of those people who call the high rise home are vowing to stay.

The Chicago Housing Authority says the decision to close the building was spurred by increasing crime and low occupancy.

The sunshine illuminates what many social scientists say is a failed experiment in housing. But not to the families left at Cabrini-Green, who shuttle their kids to school like other city residents and value where they've lived, often, for their whole lives.

"Everything is not the way they think it is," said June Marsh who has lived in the complex for 28 years. "I was born and raised here...this is safe for right now."

It's a refrain echoed by others who inhabit less than a quarter of the 134 cinder-block apartments in 1230 N. Larrabee. The housing project's other three buildings have been torn down. The CHA says recent drug raids show the building is a haven for illegal activity and have cited that and low occupancy to render an "emergency closure."

But 49-year-old resident Larry Walker says going elsewhere is far more dangerous than staying.

"You go off into, where it usually happens, getting jumped on. I want to remain here. We're surviving and then ship off and go to another war area," he said.

The head of the residents' council has enjoyed the view from the apartment he was raised in since 1972, a place where elders in the community asked him to become a leader and he obliged. Marvin Edwards, who is also a Cook County sheriff, says he'll fight eviction through the courts, and if he has to, by appealing to the mayor.

"Anywhere you go, you know, right now this area is one of the safest the city of Chicago," said Edwards. "CHA deliberately let this building delapidate."

CHA says that four buildings in the public housing complex still have to be evacuated. Lewis Jordan, CHA's CEO, says the decision to close the first of the four buildings now is spurred by recent drug raids, increasing crime and safety issues along with low occupancy and operational costs in the building.

"We can longer tolerate seeing good people live in deteriorating and unsafe conditions. The families there are at great risk and it is our responsibility to see that those residents are moved from that environment as quickly as possible," said Jordan. "Anyone who has been inside the old Cabrini buildings cannot deny the deteriorating conditions."

CHA officials say that all families will be given the choice to relocate to another CHA-rehabbed property or use a housing choice voucher to rent in the private market. Relocation assistance will be offered to all 31 families still living in the high rise.

CHA communications spokesperson Matt Aguilar says while a mixed-housing development was the model of the past development plans for the future of the property are not available at this time.

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