Last month, I spent an afternoon talking to residents at the Julia C. Lathrop Homes, on Chicago’s North Side. Built between 1937 and 1938, it was one of the earliest public housing projects in the city. The three- and four-story buildings straddling Diversey Parkway were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2012. Several years ago, the Chicago Housing Authority evicted the tenants from the buildings on the north side of Diversey Parkway, and moved them to the units still open on the south side
I got off the bus because I saw huge geysers of steam rising up from ground vents amidst the brownstone buildings. But the steam wasn’t what was keeping residents preoccupied.
Everyone I talked to was worried about the future of the Lathrop Homes, and no one knew for sure whether the rest of the development would also be cleared of tenants and boarded up. They did not feel that the CHA has been adequately communicating its agenda on the Plan for Transformation to them.
As I continued taking pictures I jiggled the handle of a basement door from below which a long hose ran up and into a storm drain, leaking hot water onto the sidewalk. Within minutes I was approached by two uniformed, privately contracted security guards (one in an unmarked vehicle), and questioned.