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Resident Stories

Mary Baggett

Lived at the ABLA rowhouses from 1987 – 1997.

Just seeing our kids on the streets with nothing to do kinda made me want to step up to the plate to see them have a better life. I looked at them and like, we have all the resources to help get these youth off the street, to send them out job hunting, to put them in a program to show them that they can learn different trades to get the job that they need. And I just felt like nothing was getting done. It was time to make a change, stay…

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Shakira Johnson

Lived at Henry Horner Homes from 2000–2014.

I remember it was a week before christmas there was snow outside. Not the cold snow that makes you bundle up and grab four jackets if you didn’t have a big coat. It was that light fluffy snow that gently hit the ground or dissolved in your hand without sending chills through your body. This was one of my favorite times of the year. Putting up and decorating trees and snowball fights outside, hot chocolate and hot tea with cookies to soothe the body, all the small things that kids would love were all…

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Allen Schwartz

Lived at Jane Addams Homes from 1943 – 1954.

So I was born in Chicago and my parents were already living at the Jane Addams Projects. We were in the courtyard over there on the first floor, so you know, it seemed okay. it seemed okay. Right around the corner was the Garden Theatre. The Garden was a little local theatre. My sister and I or sometimes the whole family would go at least once a week. People in those days went to the movies, the theatre.

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Bruce Wilkerson

They had a city wide talent show of all the projects from across the city, okay? And at the time, I was singing. I had a little ol singing group I was a part of. And we won for our area. Out of all the acts and things, we came out on top.

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Liz Thompson

Lived at Cabrini Green from 1963-1986.

You would step up into the candy truck, kids would take their nickel and go down and buy five pieces of candy from the candy truck. Oh man, they had bubble gum, and remember the little dots that would come on long sheets of paper and the candy necklaces that you could wear around your neck and eat off a piece and get mosquito bites because of the sugar and all of that.

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Raymond McDonald / Shaq

Lived at Cabrini Green from 1993–present.

There’s a lot that I didn’t know growing up about my neighborhood that I was living in, but what I did know it was resilient. We marched. We fought. To see the Black power. Just to see our people have a voice, something to hold on to. It made a difference to me growing up, it gave me a sense of self seeing in knowing what they wanted. Home stability, stability with itself in life. A community.

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H. Demetrius Bonner

Lived at Stateway Gardens from 1958–1989.

What you have to understand is that growing up in that era the thing was to be proud of blackness, proud of who you are. We didn’t know what poor was. I didn’t anyway. Because if you need it you got it. Some people were less fortunate but the public housing I grew up in, see my grandmother was the Candy Lady and if you had an issue, your mother would come talk to the Candy Lady and my grandmother would try to help them work it out. She wasn’t the only one— there was…

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Francine Washington

Lived at Stateway Gardens from 1973-2006.

I sat there one night, “I’m so tired of these green walls, I don’t know what to do, everything’s green throughout the whole apartment. Even the bathroom. So I just had me some, I was going to college, so I got me a magic marker and I just started in the corner and I just started throwing shapes all over the apartment… Everyone said, ooo that’s something nice on your walls, so I went and got 9 gallons of paint and 9 brushes and said, “We are going to have a painting party. And when…

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Rhoda Jean Hatch

Lived at Jane Addams Homes from 1959–1974.

We didn’t know who lived in the project. We didn’t know until we found out much later, that’s where we actually lived, in the Chicago housing authority. Growing up as kids, we didn’t think of it as that. We just thought of it as a beautiful building we lived in, the home, there was ten of us in the apartment that we lived in.

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Janetta Pegues

Lived at ABLA from 1962–1983.

My mother, of course, came up from the Great Migration from Arkansas and although she was a city woman to the core there was always a country part of her so we had a garden flowers in the front yard and vegetables in the backyard.

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Tommy Woods

Lived at Lathrop Homes from 1968–1983.

IInside Lathrop Homes we looked at each other as family. Extended family members within the community. Whereas any sibling that had a digression can yell and fight per se amongst themselves but outside of the neighborhood of Lathrop Homes no matter what or where you are, that bond, that union with your extended family of life long friends was and still have a lifetime bond— that we are family!

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Betty Howard

Moving into a brand spanking new apartment with new playgrounds and they had those turtles you know that you could ride the stone turtles and the barrels I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the playgrounds they had at the Projects. But— the swings, and monkey bars, and everything brand spanking new.

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