Dear Mr. Henderson:
How dare you even mildly claim that overall the scattered site program by the federal government is a success ["Scattered Successes," October 14]!
The federal government has been doing this program to us in Humboldt Park for years and all we have to show for it is old abandoned CHA housing attracting gangs and drugs and masses of new housing drawing the same. Humboldt Park, the city's dumping ground of unwanteds, has enough problems without a new influx of more poorer people than we already have. Did you even come over here to see for yourself? Don't you see the same discrimination going on that they claim they're trying to rectify? Did you only listen to them? Have you talked to the professor who wrote the book at the University of Chicago? Were you bought off?
How could you write this junk? Where do you live? Why don't you come and spend a Friday night here so you can personally witness the jobs, safety, and schools purported to be in the sites selected as beneficial housing for the poor. (That's Vince Lane's claim.) They won't (NOT can't) place housing in white middle-income neighborhoods in Chicago. Doesn't that strike you as strange? Isn't that where the residents are supposed to get a leg up on their socioeconomic situations? Did Polikoff tell you that the cost of a lot is the reason? Have you talked to Aurie Pennick of the Leadership Council to find out? Any moron can figure out that if money is the reason that you can't purchase appropriate land--then HOW COULD A PROGRAM LIKE THIS EVEN HOPE TO BE INSTITUTED?
Does somebody have to tell you? It's a land scam! Didn't you check the city council records? Did you see how much money Mr. Birkmeyer made on these secret lot purchases? If 90 percent of the housing is placed in Latino neighborhoods--why? Are you going to believe that cost factor theory? Don't you know a white plot when you see one? Why don't you talk to the SERJ group on the south side or US?!!
My opinion about you as a journalist is: you were paid to write what someone else told you to write OR you were completely hoodwinked by the so-called authorities AND you did not do your homework. (By the way, did you know that the oversight committee formed to oversee the scattered site implementation is comprised of Polikoff, the Leadership Council, and a host of HUD and CHA bureaucrats? Where's the watchdog?
I am truly disappointed that the Reader would stand behind a journalist's participation in propaganda--you bought it, Harold, hook, line, and sinker!
Linda Montero One of many angry residents in Humboldt Park
PS: I dare you to print this!
Harold Henderson replies:
I lavishly quoted black, white, and Latino opponents of scattered sites. Some of them have a conspiracy theory about Gautreaux, which I didn't buy.
But even a cursory reading of the front page would have shown that I highlighted a key fact that neither Mr. Polikoff nor the CHA mentions: in 25 years the scattered-site program has failed to meet Judge Austin's original goals (a mere 700 units in white areas) and shows no sign of ever doing so. If that coverage is a free ride, I'm sure they wish they could get off the bus.