Report #3 of the Independent Monitor

September 11, 2002

To:

  • Meghan K. Harte
  • Mary E. Wiggins

cc:

  • R. Olomenji O’Connor
  • Richard M. Wheelock
  • Robert D. Whitfield

Re: Independent Monitor’s Report No. 3

Our agreement provides that I will consult with representatives of CHA and CAC to convey any interim recommendations I may have for improvements in the Phase II Relocation process. Report No. 1 was submitted to you on July 24, and Report No. 2 was submitted to you on August 5. I now submit Report No. 3:

  1. In my second report (par. 3), I called attention to the serious problem presented by the tight schedule for emptying buildings in six of the developments: Robert Taylor A, Robert Taylor B, Stateway Gardens, Washington Park, Ickes, and Bridgeport. We have been told that the deadline has been extended until October 15th for the 4120 S. Prairie building at Washington Park (48 families remaining as of the week of September 2). However, to our knowledge the September 30 date is still operative as to Bridgeport, Ickes, Stateway Gardens, Taylor A and Taylor B. It is our understanding, however, that the building closure deadline is not as worrisome at Bridgeport, as the residents there will remain on-site during the building rehab.

    There are still a great many families that need to be relocated from the other four developments. To meet the September 30th deadline, the following number of residents will have to be relocated in the next 3 weeks:

    Development Families left as of the week of September 2nd Families to be moved per week (average)
    Ickes 75 25
    Stateway Gardens 77 25-26
    Taylor A 71 23-24
    Taylor B 60 20

    It is unrealistic to expect a smooth transmission for such a large number of residents when operating under such a stringent deadline.

    Thus, the situation predicted to me to which I made reference in my first report (par. 1) is about to come to pass: during the next few weeks, there will be a flurry of activity in the relocation process, with prime emphasis on moving, that is, on quantity instead of quality. This will also result in the situation to which I referred in my second report, that is, that families who have chosen HCVs will either be rushed into housing choices that are not in their best interests, or required to relocate temporarily to make-ready units while they complete the HCV process. This need for speed also forecloses as a practical matter the option of moves to opportunity areas. The simple and most appropriate solution to this situation is obvious: to extend the dates to close Robert Taylor A and B, Stateway Gardens, and Ickes.

    This situation, which has been predictable from the outset, makes it obvious that the overall timing of the moving process schedule needs revision. This is a subject which I will address in my next report.

  2. Moves to make-ready units should be scheduled first for families which have chosen to remain in public housing, so that those which have selected HCVs will have additional time to select their rental units, and perhaps avoid the need for multiple moves.

  3. Currently, make-ready units must be approved by the CHAs Department of Operations, the property manager, and the make-ready construction company manager. There have been instances in which make-ready units have been approved by the Department of Operations, but have repeatedly failed final inspections by property management. This recently was the case at Stateway Gardens, resulting in weeks of unnecessary delay. To avoid this delay, the CHAs Department of Operations should ensure that make-ready units are actually ready for immediate occupancy when they are approved.

  4. Property managers and Section 8 specialists should not wait until residents respond to scheduling letters to complete the required move-out paperwork. If necessary, they should make door-to-door visits in an effort to complete Notices of Intention to Vacate (NIVs), and schedule move dates as soon as residents have located acceptable housing units.

  5. The LAC president of each building which is scheduled to close in Phase II should attend the relocation team meetings, the relocation building meetings, and the working group meetings, which relate to the presidents development. If the president is unable to attend, a representative should be designated in the presidents place. The active participation of LAC leaders should result in higher resident attendance at the building meetings, help to ensure that consistent messages are being conveyed to the residents, and improve resident morale with the knowledge that their leaders are actively looking after their interests. This will also afford residents an opportunity to speak about redevelopment plans with a resident representative who has personally attended the working group meetings.

  6. The problems with gangs in the buildings, referred to in Report No. 2 (par. 5), persist at Stateway Gardens, Taylor A and B, and Rockwell. At a meeting I attended of the Taylor B relocation team on August 22, a member of the CHA Section 8 staff and a representative of Changing Patterns related how gang members prevented counselors from entering the buildings, and interfered with the use of the elevators for some moves. On the same day, the LAC President at Stateway Gardens, Francine Washington, described how, earlier in the week of August 18, rival gangs were shooting at one another between buildings, and that no response was received from the Chicago Police Department to her and others repeated calls for help. We have since heard reports of rival gangs fighting at Taylor B and Washington Park, and caution having to be exercised by movers at the Wells Extensions. Although the Chicago Police Department, upon the insistence of the CHA, has deployed officers to various buildings, these officers are often not in a position to act as an effective deterrent.

    It is obvious that the gangs continue to present a serious problem to the relocation process, and that this problem must be addressed directly and forcefully by all concerned, including CHA management, the LAC representatives and building managers, and the Chicago Police Department. Because this is a matter which will persist in future years, I will further address this subject in my next report.

  7. A related problem is the move of residents to make-ready units in buildings inhabited or controlled by gangs which rival the gangs with which the moving residents are identified. This creates serious dangers for the moving residents. (See Report No. 2, par. 5.) Based upon the reports we have received in recent meetings, it is clear that these problems persist. This situation is especially marked in the Robert Taylor Homes, where residents fear moving to Dearborn or Ickes because of gang affiliations. It has also come to our attention that residents moving from the 340 S. Western building in the Rockwell Gardens development will face similar problems; a number of the residents have told us they are certain that gang violence will be unavoidable if they are relocated to 2515 W. Jackson.

    In order to address the relocation process in a humane and intelligent fashion, careful consideration must be given to these gang affiliations, and the resultant dangers posed to residents, many of whom are the innocent victims of gang rivalries. It must be borne in mind that these moves do not come from the instigation of the residents, but are being forced by the
    government. Accordingly, I believe that the government must accept the responsibility to assure the safety of the relocated residents, and to provide make-ready units in buildings which do not present risks to life or limb. With all of the public housing units available throughout the Chicago area, this ought to be relatively easy to accomplish, although perhaps not within the tight time frames currently in effect.

  8. With respect to the team meetings in the remainder of Phase II, we recommend that the team leaders use consolidated color-coded tracking sheets which show the names and information of the residents who have not yet moved, rather than the sheets currently in use which include information about those who have already moved. This will save time and focus those present on the persons who have yet to be relocated. Full tracking sheets should continue to be available at the meetings for ready reference.

  9. The weekly building meetings instituted by the CHA serve as a splendid opportunity for residents to have their relocation questions answered. The residents can also schedule their moves with the Section 8 specialists and meet one-on-one with representatives of the various relocation agencies. I commend the CHA for taking this worthwhile initiative. All efforts should be made by the CHA, property management, service connectors, and LACs to encourage residents to attend these meetings.

  10. My associates, Robert J. Blazejowski and Zubair A. Khan, my partner, Robert Z. Slaughter, and I have been very impressed with the dedication, diligence, and competency of the CHAs relocation staff operating under the direction of Meghan Harte and Rayne Martin, and the advice provided to us by the CAC President Mary Wiggins and her staff, and CACs lawyers, Robert Whitfield and Richard Wheelock, as well as the assistance we have received from Alex Polikoff and Adam Gross of BPI. They all have demonstrated personal and professional commitment to having Phase II of the relocation process proceed smoothly, efficiently and humanely. Although our reports and recommendations may include criticisms of the process, I do not intend to suggest that the leaders of the CAC and the CHA have failed to do their level best to perform their functions in an admirable manner, in what is a most difficult and complicated task.

Respectfully submitted, Thomas P. Sullivan

Independent Monitor, Phase II One IBM Plaza
Chicago, IL
60611 312-923-2928

Report #2 of the Independent Monitor

August 5, 2002

To:

  • Meghan K. Harte
  • Mary E. Wiggins

cc:

  • Richard M. Wheelock
  • Robert D. Whitfield

Re: Independent Monitor’s Report No. 2

Our agreement provides that I will consult with representatives of CHA and CAC to convey any interim recommendations I may have for improvements in the Phase II Relocation process. Report No. 1 was submitted to you on July 24. I now submit Report No. 2:

  1. In my first report (par. 1), I called attention to the need for additional relocation counselors at Stateway Gardens. Discussions in which we have participated at various weekly team meetings and with others involved in the relocation process lead me to conclude that the problem of inadequate numbers of counselors is not limited to Stateway Gardens, but exists at other sites which are slated for demolition in Phase II. Within the past few weeks contracts with additional counseling agencies have been approved by the CHA Board. This is a step in the right direction, but taken at so late a date it is doubtful the new personnel will make a material difference in Phase II. If the CHA approval process was an impediment to earlier approval of these contracts, steps should be taken to streamline the process for the future.

  2. Another problem which I mentioned in my first report (par. 4) was that weekly meetings of the relocation staff were cancelled when for various reasons the relocation project manager was unable to attend. We have found that this situation exists in a number of developments. For example, weekly meetings were cancelled at Cabrini on July 10 and 17; at Ickes on July 11 and 18 and August 1; at Taylor A and B on July 11 and 18; and at ABLA-Jane Addams and Bridgeport on July 9, 16 and 23. These cancellations have the potential for slowing relocation and jeopardizing timely follow through in this complex process.

  3. The current timing for the Phase II process appears to present a major problem in six developments. CHA relocation staff personnel continually emphasize the need for speed in moving the residents from the buildings. They insist that the CHA must adhere to target dates for having the buildings empty and ready for demolition. We have been told that the past delays and current slow pace of HCVs being issued by CHAC has caused a further squeeze on the time schedule. This situation has the potential to lead to number of very serious problems, and to expose CHA management to the charge that greater emphasis is being placed on having the buildings vacated by predetermined dates – which do not appear to have any overriding significance – than on assuring the orderly, thoughtful, efficient and compassionate relocation of the residents. This situation is especially marked in the developments listed below, showing the average number of families to be moved each week between July 29 and the announced target date of September 30 for emptying the buildings:

    Development Families left as of the week of 7/29/02 Families to be moved per week (average)
    Bridgeport 108 12
    Ickes 106 11 to 12
    Stateway Gardens 110 12
    Taylor A 86 9 to 10
    Taylor B 87 9 to 10
    Washington Park 64 7

    It is my understanding that the schedule is even more restricted than illustrated in this chart. Real target dates for emptying the buildings are probably earlier than stated above. I have been told that when a building is from 85 to 90% empty, it is no longer safe for remaining families to stay.

    It has been discussed at team meetings that on August 15, the moves to make-ready units will be expedited for families who have selected public housing and for those who are still in the early stages of the Housing Choice Voucher (Section 8) process.

    Among the difficulties I foresee as a result of this situation for families in these developments who have chosen HCVs, either temporary or permanent, are the following:

    The tight schedule puts pressure on the relocation counselors to select potential rental sites with great haste, with inadequate attention paid to the quality or appropriateness of placements. The lack of adequate numbers of relocation counselors, mentioned above, makes it more difficult for the relatively few current counselors, even with the best of intentions, to take a reasonable amount of time with each family, and attempt to present housing options best tailored to each familys individual circumstances. We have been advised that the counselors are paid on the basis of the number of families placed in HCV units, which if true could motivate them to recommend units in areas and with landlords who are ready to accept HCV applicants from public housing. In light of the time schedule, it would be natural for counselors to contact landlords with whom they already placed families from public housing, in communities which already have substantial concentrations of low income and minority residents. Counselors may avoid landlords who may have more attractive housing in more appropriate locations, but who may resist public housing applicants. Counselors may thus have neither the time nor the economic motivation to identify and pursue areas in the City or suburbs with which they are not readily familiar, or in which they have not in the past placed HCV families from public housing.

    A related problem is the restricted market for public housing residents seeking HCV rentals, whether temporary or permanent, owing in part to racial and economic discrimination among landlords. It has been widely reported that many landlords, especially those in communities with little or no present racial integration, resist or refuse HCV applicants from CHA developments. The current time schedule precludes any organized effort to address this problem.

    We have been told by representatives of several housing advocacy groups and experts that the result of these problems taken together will be that the current vertical ghettos will be replaced with horizontal ghettos, made up overwhelmingly of African-American families at or below the poverty level. If the preceding analysis is accurate, some families who have chosen HCVs will be placed in rental units that may not be appropriate for their needs or the best they could obtain if more time was taken to assist in the relocation process; other families will be relocated to make-ready units in public housing developments pending their locating a unit in the private market, resulting in two moves instead of one. The current deadlines for emptying the buildings will be a driving force causing these situations to occur.

    The current tight schedule for emptying the Phase II buildings also has the potential for causing unnecessary hardships on families who have opted to relocate temporarily or permanently to public housing, as well as those who chose HCV but were found ineligible and therefore will be returned to public housing. One of the reasons is the slow pace at which replacement housing units are being constructed for these families, except perhaps the housing being constructed under consent decrees for Horner and for certain Cabrini buildings. It is our understanding that very few units have been constructed or contracts let for replacement units for CHA residents, and that a portion of the planned construction will involve site specific criteria which many families may not be able to meet. The current lack of availab
    le new construction will result in delays between the time families will return to permanent public housing, and even greater delays for families who, although lease compliant, do not meet site specific criteria of newly constructed units.

    In order to avoid these undesirable results, I recommend the following:

    First, that CHA management revise the current target dates for emptying the buildings in the six developments listed above to dates that are consistent with the objective of relocating the families in a more deliberate and compassionate manner.

    Second, that prompt steps be taken to buttress the HCV program, to the end that adequate numbers of counselors be enlisted, that CHACs processing of HCVs be expedited, and that CHA assure that counselors are placing emphasis on the quality of the relocations rather than the number of families moved.

    Third, that CHA management consider (1) engaging in legal proceedings to enforce the law requiring landlords to rent on a non-discriminatory basis, including the Chicago ordinance prohibiting discrimination against HCV holders, and (2) mounting a public relations campaign to encourage communities and landlords to make decent housing available on an non-discriminatory basis to public housing residents.

    Fourth, that prompt steps be taken to synchronize the demolition of old and construction of new public housing units, to the end that the residents who are to remain in public housing will have permanent units available, and will not have to reside in make-ready units for extended periods.

    These recommendations will apply with equal force to the relocations in Phase III and later years.

  4. In paragraph 5 of my first report I called attention to a situation at Ida B. Wells involving inaccurate make-ready addresses. We have learned that this also occurred in Taylor A and B. Apparently this did not result from a series of inadvertent errors, but rather was planned at some level within CHA. It is our understanding that the team members are aware of this problem and that it will be remedied promptly, so that accurate make-ready addresses are used and families are not misled or upset by wrong or inappropriate addresses.

  5. A series of particularly distressing incidents involving street gangs at several developments has come to my attention.

    • The building manager of Taylor B, 4950 S. State, stated at the weekly meeting on July 25, 2002 that the move out process might be impeded because gangs control the use of the elevators; she has arranged to have personnel from the elevator company come to the buildings on the days of the moves to assure the movers access to the elevators.
    • At the Taylor A weekly meeting on July 25, a representative of Changing Patterns stated that on certain days their personnel have been denied access by gang members to the buildings located at 4950 S. State and 4525 and 4555 S. Federal.
    • At the weekly meeting of Taylor B on August 1, it was reported that a resident was recently moved to a make-ready unit at Dearborn, and that because her male friend was connected with the gang that rivals the predominant gang at Dearborn, violence ensued and serious injuries were inflicted on the friend. It was also reported that this problem potentially involves residents of Taylor who may be relocated to Ickes. We understand that the team members are aware of the need for care in selecting the locations of make-ready units, having in mind gang rivalries.

    I assume that CHA management is attempting to solve these and similar problems. One solution may be to request that police monitor the buildings involved on a 24-hour basis until it is clear that the residents and their guests may have access to the buildings and the elevators free from interference of gang members. However, in making this suggestion I do not intend to minimize the complexity of dealing with the gangs, and that the better part of wisdom may be to finish the moves without unnecessary confrontations. These problems will undoubtedly recur in the remaining buildings, and should be planned for and confronted directly in later phases of the relocation process.

You will undoubtedly recognize that some of the bases for the foregoing recommendations are not based upon personal knowledge, but rather upon what I have read or been told, or surmise. Accordingly, I urge you to call me in the event you or others of your staffs wish to discuss any of these matters with me, correct any of my assertions or assumptions, or otherwise take issue with my premises or conclusions.

Respectfully submitted,
Thomas P. Sullivan

Independent Monitor, Phase II
One IBM Plaza
Chicago, IL
60611 312-923-2928

Report #1 of the Independent Monitor

July 24, 2002

To:

  • Meghan K. Harte
  • Mary E. Wiggins

cc:

  • Richard M. Wheelock
  • Robert D. Whitfield
  • Robert J. Blazejowski
  • Zubair A. Khan
  • Robert Z. Slaughter

Our agreement provides that I will consult with representatives of CHA and CAC to convey any interim recommendations I may have for improvements to the relocation process. Accordingly, I submit the following:

  1. On July 22, 2002 I spoke by telephone with Doran Harper, Building Manager for Stateway Gardens. He told me that there are 100 families who have applied for Section 8 housing from 3542-44 South State and 3547-49 South Federal. Changing Patterns For Families has six counselors. Doran says that these counselors cannot feasibly handle the cases within the time required in an appropriate fashion. Doran believes that the number of relocation counselors should be increased to at least 12. It may well be that this problem exists at other developments.
  2. Doran also said that the CHA imposes procedures on building managers that are overly restrictive, creating difficulties in efficiently handling the relocation process. A major example is the prohibition against building managers speaking directly to representatives of CHAC. Doran believes this restriction should be abolished.
  3. After lease compliance is achieved, the property manager or the service connector notifies the relocation manager so that the residents name can then be forwarded to CHAC for Section 8 processing. In some instances that we have observed, property managers or service connectors wait until the next weekly meeting to notify the relocation manager of lease compliance. The notification should occur as soon as lease compliance is achieved. This could save a week of delay. In light of the extensive procedures required for Section 8 placement, every day counts.
  4. When the relocation manager is out of the office (vacation or sick), there should be an alternative member of the relocation staff assigned to lead the meeting. There have been many cancellations, which sets the process back.
  5. On July 17, 2002, it was brought to our attention at the Ida B. Wells team meeting that Wells residents were provided with incorrect make-ready addresses on their 90-day notices. These addresses relate to units that will be available for the resident in the event that the resident is unable to find a suitable Section 8 apartment at the expiration of the 90-day notice period. Sandra Young, Wells LAC President / CHA Commissioner, informed the Wells team that a number of residents have complained that the make-ready addresses listed on their 90-day notices contained addresses of units that were either non-existent, not made-ready, or found to contain a different number of bedrooms than they had requested on their Housing Choice Survey. Apparently, CHA personnel inserted the addresses of units that were listed on an outdated vacancy report instead of consulting with property management to determine suitable make-ready units for individual residents. This raises two concerns: 1) the haste in which the 90-day notices were generated unnecessarily caused residents to believe that make-ready will not be available for them; and 2) a breakdown in communication between CHA staff and the property management which may have caused this situation.