Footage for the documentary "Voices of Cabrini." Shot between 1995-1999, it documented the Cabrini Green redevelopment project proposed and carried out by the city of Chicago. On this tape, members of the Havis Family comment on their 1997 move out of Cabrini Green to the South Side.
00:00Copy video clip URL This tape begins with footage of a group of children playing in an open fire hydrant. On a hot summer day on the South Side of Chicago, the neighborhood children cool off in the large spray of water that fills the street. The filmmakers are about to interview members of the Havis family. They had recently moved out of their high rise apartment in Cabrini Green in hopes of finding a better neighborhood and nicer living conditions.
02:37Copy video clip URL Lynette Havis, sister of Charita Havis, who moved with the family, talks about the South Side neighborhood of Washington Park. When asked how it compares to Cabrini, Havis states that it is “way better.” “The neighbors are nice to each other… I get along with everybody.” Havis goes on to talk about the better conditions of their new apartment. In Cabrini, she and the family endured extremely dismal living conditions. Havis states that there are no roaches or rats and the new place. She goes on to say that she would like to move back to Cabrini if the city were to rebuild it and welcome her family back in.
06:02Copy video clip URL Cut to a shot of a group of children playing near the fire hydrant.
07:36Copy video clip URL Cut to inside the Havis’ home. Charita Havis’ boyfriend, Henry Washington, comments on the new apartment and the problems his girlfriend has been having with the new living arrangements. Washington attributes many of the problems to the building owner’s lack of responsibility in assisting Havis due to her coming from Cabrini Green Section 8 housing. Washington talks about the aparmtent and its poor condition. He claims that the building owners haven’t been taking proper care of the premises. Washington talks about a giant hole in the ceiling that leaks water whenever it rains. He also goes on to talk about some of the other problems in the building, including odd odors, filthy rugs, and bad water pressure. “We’ve had nothing but promises. It’s just ridiculous. The place is beautiful and there’s not that much that has to be done.”
11:16Copy video clip URL When asked what he believes will happen with Cabrini Green, Washington says that it will all be demolished because of it being prime area for developers. He goes on to make a general assertion about the poor not getting to reap much of the benefits of gentrification. “Out of where I live at, Presidential Towers, … there’s 2400 apartments and out of the 2400 apartments, which all that was skid row at one time, we [low income residents] got 165 apartments out of 2400. That’s a whole lot isn’t it. That ain’t even one percent is it? So it’s going to be basically the same thing when they get done tearing down Cabrini. It’s going to be for those who have money for the rich, rich or middle class however you want to put it.” Washington goes on to make a few comments on race relations before talking about his own involvement in combating the dislocation of Cabrini Green residents. “I’m so hostile, I’m afraid I might snap because it hurts. It hurts. Not just being black but just being treated the way I am because I am black, and it hurts, it really hurts… I feel I have a right to be hostile like I am because of the way I’ve been treated. I won’t say some of it could’ve been avoided, but when you’re in power, and you’re on the bottom, well, read your history books. You’re a college student. You know how that works. You’re going to stay there until they let you come up or God eventually is going to turn the world around one way or another. Another fifty years it’s not going to be like this. I don’t know who’s going to be on top, but it won’t be the power that’s up there now. But it hurts, it really hurts because a person don’t like you because of the color of your skin. It’s ridiculous. It’s really ridiculous. That’s it.”
14:54Copy video clip URL Cut to a dark shot of some faulty patch work in the apartment.
15:04Copy video clip URL Cut to a shot of Washington in the hallway leading up to the apartment. He continues to make a few comments about the ongoing problems in the apartment. When asked what it was like living in the old apartment at Cabrini Green, Washington refers to it as “100 percent hell.” “It was hell: rats, roaches, gangbangers, shooting, drugs so forth. But it’s the way of life that you live when you have to live it until things come across better like this here.” He goes on to say that building Cabrini Green was one of the greatest things city officials ever did for Chicago, and that the current demolition plans are just as great. Washington talks about the community and how it changed over the last thirty to forty years. He goes on to make a few comments on segregation. “It was more segregated then and if you ask me it’s better to be segregated to be anywhere, because when you’re segregated, you do among your own self. And then integrated, well that brings about progress which is cool with me too.” He then makes a few comments about both integration and segregation. He also comments on the lack of help from the city and law enforcement officials in keeping Cabrini Green safe and secure.
17:40Copy video clip URL Washington states that if city and law enforcement officials aren’t going to help, residents need to band together bring attention to whatever problems they might face. He also talks about the feeling of residents living in Cabrini Green. “Like I said, the world done changed. Things are different, and who wants the pressure? Some people would rather live like that than just to be intimidated, killed, or whatever; just go on and live like they’re living. In one way it kind of sounds crazy, then again, you kind of look at it, you might say it’s right. Then again if you’ve never lived it, you don’t know. That’s the bad part, when you don’t know, especially living in Cabrini. You don’t know. It’s not an easy thing to talk about, not an easy thing to explain.”
19:17Copy video clip URL Washington talks about the governmental problems in the United States and calls for a revision of the U.S. Constitution due to the societal changes that have taken place over the years.
20:28Copy video clip URL Washington shows the filmmakers the giant hole in the ceiling of the apartment. Washington states that the landlord doesn’t really care about the building because of it being section 8 housing. He goes on to talk about the Havis’ furniture being destroyed during a three week flood at her Cabrini residence. Shortly afterwards, Charita Havis comes into the room and looks out the living room window. The filmmakers ask her to compare living in Cabrini Green to her living in her new South side apartment. The filmmakers then gather a b-roll of Havis and Washington.
28:07Copy video clip URL Cut to a shot of Washington and Havis walking through a grassy lot over to the street.
29:28Copy video clip URL Cut to an interview with David Tkac, who was appointed by Mayor Richard M. Daley to handle the Cabrini Green redevelopment initiative. He talks about the vacant land and dilapidated properties and refers to it as an unpleasant environment. He talks about the city’s plans to redevelop the neighborhood into a mixed income community with new schools, parks, and housing. “We’re envisioning the concept of a complete community where we rid that particular area of the isolationism and separatism that exist with public housing and the whole stigma surrounding the Cabrini Green complex. He then shows the filmmakers what the city’s plans for redevelopment are through a diagram. This lasts for several minutes.
33:07Copy video clip URL The filmmaker then asks where many of the displaced Cabrini residents will be relocating. Tkac talks about the demolition of many of the high rise buildings in the area. He states that within the eight buildings that will be demolished there are 1324 apartments. He explains that the occupancy rate is roughly 600-700. Based on this information, the plan is to build 2000 new apartments with at least 650-700 to be designated as replacement units. Tkac also states that building repairs would cost too much money. He goes on to say that through creating mixed income housing, they hope to develop a “new standard in the community.” He continues to talk about the process in more detail.
37:09Copy video clip URL The filmmaker asks about some of the displaced businesses along Division Street and whether they will have a place in the newly developed Cabrini Green neighborhood. Tkac says that it is dependent on whether or not the businesses are viable and is ultimately up to the developer. He goes on to say that said businesses are “handsomely compensated” for their property.
38:45Copy video clip URL Tkac talks about the changes that may come about in Cabrini Green during the next ten years. While explaining the expansion, he makes a point of saying that the vast majority of the Cabrini Green development will remain intact, despite all of the city’s plans for redevelopment. One of the filmmakers asks Tkac about the most difficult aspect of his work. Tkac talks about his work in the construction field and his first exposure to societal issues through the redevelopment process. He states that the most difficult part of his work is gaining the right amount of community support.
43:12Copy video clip URL One of the filmmakers asks Tkac what he’s learned from the process. Tkac talks about the community support aspect of the redevelopment project. He goes on to say that the majority of the people in Cabrini are interested in change but are very skeptical of the redevelopment process. He also states that the city will live up to its commitments.
43:45Copy video clip URL Cut to a shot of Joe Schuldiner, who was also a part of the redevelopment. He is currently having a conversation with a few Cabrini residents about a town hall meeting that will take place later in the evening. He and a few others have gathered at a local Cabrini school before the event.
47:19Copy video clip URL Tape ends.