Chicago’s housing authority recently shut down the city’s Cabrini-Green Housing Projects—known for their laundry list of gruesome high-profile crimes—, ending a troubled era in Chicago public housing.
According to the Associated Press, the move was made on Nov. 30 after an emergency order was issued instructing its last residents to leave. The two families, who refused to leave the housing complex, originally had until January to move, but the date was shifted as officials considered their continued occupancy of the buildings unsafe.
By Dec. 10, all the remaining residents had moved out and the projects were officially closed, according to Chicago’s FOX affiliate.
City residents believe the building’s closure marks an end to the city’s failed public housing policy, particularly because it housed large populations of poor individuals.
“It destroyed families,” Chicago Mayor Richard Daley told NPR. “It moved people from rural communities into high rises. They had no supportive services and it completely failed.”
Built in Chicago’s North Side in 1942, the Cabrini-Green Projects once housed nearly 13,000 people. But gang wars and illegal drug traffic led to its downfall.
The complex gained national attention in 1981 when a gang war killed 11 residents in three months. Shortly thereafter, former Mayor Jane Byrne and her husband moved into the apartments for three weeks to improve conditions.
Then in 1992, a 7-year-old boy was shot and killed as he was walking to school by a Cabrini resident. Five years later, a 9-year-old girl was found dead in a stairwell. Authorities discovered the girl raped, choked, poisoned and left in a stairwell with gang graffiti emblazoned on her body.
Despite the chaos for which the housing complex was notorious, many of its former residents believe it wasn’t as bad as the media portrayed and would have preferred to stay.
“It good to me,” Annie Ricks, one of Cabrini’s last residents told a National Public Radio interviewer.
Still, housing officials say the families are better off leaving.
“We are certainly empathetic to the families who have called Cabrini-Green their home for so many years,” Chicago Housing Authority CEO Lewis A. Jordan said in a statement. “Change is not a simple proposition, and having to leave decades of memories behind cannot be an easy thing. However, CHA is confident that these families will find brighter futures in their new homes.”
Following its closing, all of the displaced families received relocation assistance including housing counseling and moving services. Additionally, former residents can opt to return to the area after the property is redeveloped.
Cabrini-Green was the setting for the 1970s situation comedy “Good Times.” The buildings where exterior shots for the show were filmed, are set to be demolished in early 2011.