Chicago's ambitious plan to improve poor families' housing conditions   2011-11-22 17:01:04 FeedbackPrintRSS

CHICAGO, Nov. 21 (Xinhua) -- "I feel much safer now. This is my last move," says Sirnollie Baldwin a mother of four who is a new resident of a mixed-income community in North Chicago.

They moved from Cabrini Green, a public housing community notorious for gang violence and thugs, synonymous with the problems associated with public housing in the United States.

"This can be my stable home, I won't leave my area," a glowing Sirnollie told Xinhua. Her home is among the 25,000 units of housing renovated or built by Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) under the Plan for Transformation, the largest redevelopment and rehabilitation project of public housing in the history of the U.S.

The Plan for Transformation began in 2000, aimed at building and strengthening communities by integrating public housing and its leaseholders into the larger social, economic and physical fabric of Chicago, said Jadine Chou, vice president of CHA's Asset Management Department.

"We are about 80 percent done with this plan, we want to move people out of Chicago's stigma, and into a new world," Jadine added.

The so-called mixed-income communities would help to break down the social barriers that formerly segregated public housing residents from the mainstream communities, Jadine said. "Our goal is to not have a difference."

"The positive environment could give you a better hope that you can move toward self-sufficiency," said Jadine. "The family income of public housing residents have almost doubled in the last 10 years, from 10,000 dollars per year in 2000 to 19,000."

Meanwhile, CHA also offers leaseholders a comprehensive array of supportive services that lead to self-sufficiency, including job training and placement, substance abuse treatment, education, summer programs and day care.

Sirnollie felt easier to get a job after the movement. "Before, when I filed up an application for a job, when they see the address of Cabrini, they would think twice because they know what the address means. But now as I file up an application, nobody would have a second thought about where you live there, because it' s not the old address of the bad community that we were in."

Sirnollie now worked for H.J. Russell & Company, a property manager contracted with CHA, which makes her fully capable of raising four kids by herself, as only 30 percent of the family income is used to pay for the rental.

"If the families can do more on their part by working, we provide fewer subsidies to that units, and therefore, can use that to help more other people," Jadine said.

Editor: Deng Shasha
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