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Last Of Cabrini Green Row Houses Slated To Come Down

CHICAGO (CBS) — Once a troubled corner of Chicago, the area that was once home to the Cabrini Green housing project has changed drastically over the years.

As the Chicago Housing Authority prepares to develop what's left of one of Chicago's most infamous housing projects, residents who still live there reflect on what life is like in the projects.

Cabrini Green resident Eddie Muhammad has lived in Cabrini Green for about 30 years.

"What can you say because there are a lot of people who already formed an opinion of Cabrini Green," Muhammad said. "The high rises--it breeded corruption, and I am glad they are gone."

At Cabrini Green's peak, 15,000 people lived in the housing area. But the place that many called home was also plagued by violence.

The last of the high-rises was demolished in 2011.

Cabrini-Green Demolition
The last standing Cabrini-Green high-rise, at 1230 N. Burling St., was demolished in Spring 2011. (Credit: CBS)

What's left is a cluster of 137 units in a series of renovated row houses just north of Chicago Avenue.

They sit beside about 450 fenced-off and boarded-up units the CHA says have been "vacant for a number of years due to deteriorating conditions."

"They are sitting here idle, they are serving no purpose," Muhammad said.

Author Ben Austen has chronicled the changes at Cabrini-Green in his book "High-Risers." Austen said the situation has put people in a precarious position.

"Come down, create a plan, open these back up," Austen said. "For the past 10 years, those families have been living next to those boarded up apartments."

The CHA will select a firm to redevelop the site by the end of the year.

"For families earning over $200,000 a year this is the fastest-growing area, not only in the city but in the nation," Austen said. "It should scare all of us because the city is becoming a place where few can afford to live."

Some connected to Cabrini Green's row houses, like Ronald Crosby, say the residences are all they know.

"They building this up right now to push us out of here," Crosby said.

In a neighborhood surrounded by profound change--now populated by high tech workers, trendy restaurants and pricier condos—it feels a world away for some residents.

"Kids can't even have pets over here, but our next door neighbors have all kinds of gigantic dogs," Crosby said.

Still, in the units on the other side of the fence, some see hope in their redevelopment.

"So you can get more lower-income families into these houses," Crosby said.

The row houses date back to 1942, and the first of Cabrini Green's high-rises were built in 1957.


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