Reporter’s note | Staff notes | Chicago Reader

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Reporter’s note


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  • Frank Okay

Typically When I delve into a housing story, I find that someone with more power is exercising it in a way that hurts someone with less power. In situations where low-income tenants are grappling with exploitative landlords, or public housing residents are battling recalcitrant city officials, or homeowners face off against predatory lenders, narratives are relatively simple to construct. In this story about a struggling South Shore co-op it was clear that the problems residents have experienced are real, and the stakes for resolving them are high. But the deeper I looked into it, the more the lines between the perpetrators and victims of various harms blurred into actual human complexity exacerbated by communication problems, divergent priorities, and disparate life experiences. It was hard to get people to go on the record about something as private and precious as their financial situations, the state of their homes, and their relationships with their neighbors. The challenge was to tell this story in a way that was fair to the people who never wanted to be in the paper in the first place while honoring the experiences and perspectives of those who welcomed the intervention of a reporter. v

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