Is CHA’s Plan for Transformation Working? What’s Next for Cabrini-Green?
Retired chef and longtime Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) resident Robert Williams said it was “like a Vietnam.”
For many living there, in Cabrini-Green, these Near North Side high-rises turned into a nationwide example of how public sector living can go wrong. CHA’s Cabrini-Green became well known after national headlines broke in 1981 when 11 residents died due to gang war during a three-month span.
In spite of its long history of violence, Williams, who was interviewed for Episode 115 of In the Loop, lived in his row house for the last 45 years.
"It’s getting better all the time. I can see that myself. Because, for so many years, I prayed to see some change coming and it came," he said.
Indeed it seems like it has changed for remaining residents since the last of the tower buildings were demolished in March 2011. Now all that remain are the row houses. The Cabrini-Green housing project began in 1942, had 24 towers, and was home to 15,000 residents.
Today what remains of Cabrini are the row houses, empty lots where the towers once were, and a new mixed-income high-rise that gives former Cabrini residents an opportunity to live in the same building as market renters. Many of the row houses were also recently shuttered as part of CHA’s Plan For Transformation. According to this plan, “25,000 units will be developed or revitalized” (WBEZ).
Williams chose to stay in his row house simply because he did not want to live on a higher floor. Others, who were forced out of their row houses as part of the transformation plan recently filed suit against the city for neglecting to rehab their homes.
So what has happened to the former residents of Cabrini-Green? Where are they now? Is Chicago’s new mixed-income project a success? In the Loop attempts to answer these questions and more on this Sunday’s encore presentation at 6:30 p.m. Join the conversation.
The show’s producers would love feedback for this week’s episode. Do you know a former CHA resident from Cabrini?