The last family living in a Cabrini-Green high-rise building moved out of their unit yesterday, and a mini-gusher of press arrived to capture the poignant moment. Some of the tragic incidents of violence at Cabrini gave it an international reputation, after all, and helped to set the stage for the Chicago Housing Authority's Plan For Transformation, which has resulted in the demolition of public housing buildings across Chicago in the hopes that mixed-income communities will rise in their stead.
Much less has been written about the other move-outs and demolitions. "[M]ost of the other high-rises vanished without publicity. Their demise gets noticed chiefly in the consequences, namely the violence that stings the far-flung neighborhoods where many displaced residents have landed," the Tribune columnist Mary Schmich wrote today.
And no one should forget that there's still tens of thousands of public housing tenants, both families and seniors, in Chicago and many challenges ahead for them. At the Lathrop Homes, located west of Lincoln Park, residents are pushing for a redevelopment plan that focuses on public housing and rentals. Many developments slated to replace demolished public housing communities -- like the ABLA Homes and Rockwell Gardens -- are far behind schedule, stalled out in the Great Recession. The Cabrini row homes, located south of the high-rise that was emptied yesterday, meanwhile, could get demolished too. It may have been the end of an era at Cabrini yesterday, but it's not for public housing in Chicago.