Last Cabrini-Green residents moving out

November 30, 2010 (CHICAGO)

They say they were given until January to move, but the Chicago Housing Authority abruptly moved up the date, leaving them little time to get ready.

Moving vans were sent over to 1230 N. Burling early Tuesday morning.

There is only one high-rise that remains occupied with a handful of families. As part of the decade long transformation process, residents say the CHA agreed to relocate them after the holidays, but it moved the date up apparently for safety reasons.

At its peak, Cabrini-Green housed 15,000 residents. Today it is down to just five families living in the last high-rise, and they are saying good-bye to a development that defined what was wrong with public housing in America.

While movers hauled out their belongings Tuesday, the remaining few residents said not so fast.

"What we residents want to do is be accommodated right, to leave this building with pride and dignity, and make sure everything goes smoothly," said resident Kenneth Hammond. "We don't want no trouble, but we want to be treated fair and need some time to do this."

Some Cabrini residents say the Chicago Housing Authority had given them until January 18 to move out.

But the date was moved up because the building was deemed unsafe due to low occupancy.

"I'm not packed," said resident Annie Ricks. "I'm not prepared to move today, because I just found out yesterday that they were saying that everybody needed to be out of the building,"

Cabrini-Green was made of up 10 sections. It was built over a 20-year period and completed in 1962.

Located off Division Street, the high-rises were known as the "whites" for their concrete exterior. Over the years, the development became known for its violence, poor conditions and for a mayor who moved in for three weeks.

In 1997, a 9-year-old girl known as "Girl X" was left for dead in a stairwell after being raped and beaten.

Despite its past, some residents were proud to call Cabrini home.

"I was here for 30 years and I happen to like it. There's been crime. There's been good times, there's been bad times. But guess what? I still like it," said resident Alta Harris.

As they move out, residents say they just want the CHA to accommodate them in a fair way.

"Having been through the worst of the worst in Cabrini, they deserve to see the best of the best Cabrini has today," said J.R. Fleming, Cabrini Local Advisory Council.

Residents say some previous tenants were relocated to rental units that were in the need of repairs and in more dangerous neighborhoods.

The remaining tenants are asking for the CHA to keep them in the same North Side community where the crime rate has decreased.

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