One of Chicago’s newest neighborhoods is Westhaven Park in the city’s dynamic Near West Side.
Located across from the magnificent United Center, home of the venerable Chicago Blackhawks and world champion Chicago Bulls.
The Tower is a mixed building with 34 public housing units and 83 privately owned condominiums.
Better Tomorrows provides case management and social services to residents, increasing self-sufficiency and magnifying opportunities.
Residents In The Spotlight
Major Adams Community Committee (M.A.C.C): Afterschool and Summer Program
Northwest Side Community Development Corporation (NWSCDC): Summer Program Women’s Empowerment Group
Westhaven Park Community Action Team (WHPCAT):
Youth Engagement Team: Activities and/or initiatives that enhance the education and life outcomes of the Westhaven children and youth through in-school and out-of-school mentoring, sports initiatives, and career internship
○ Navigating Educational Hardships (e.g. IEP)
○ Understanding the process of Selective Enrollment Schools
○ How to obtain better grades
○ Navigating Higher Education
○ Linkages to Community Resources
○ Creative Writing Workshops
○ Creative Expressions Activities Career Internships
Mentorship – Age Group Focused
○ Connecting youth to Social Civic-Engagement Organizations (e.g.. LINKS Incorporated, Fraternities, Sororities, 100 Black Men etc.)
○ After School Matters (Paid Internships with Mentoring Component)
○ Connections to Community-Based Organizations that provide mentoring (e.g. Near West Side CDC, Major Adams Community Center, By the Hands Mentoring)
○ Participation in Athletic programs/leagues
○ Connections to Sports Camps
Peace/Faith– Activities and initiatives that forge partnerships with residents, churches, and police to be a peaceful, prayerful presence in the community
○ Peace & Prayer Walks
○ Engagement with Chicago Police Department and Security Firm
○ Creating Self-Policing Initiatives with Residents
○ Family Engagement Activities (Movie Night/Game Night)
Power Team– Activities and initiatives that support economic empowerment
Junior League: Journey to healthy living: Kids in the kitchen, Exercise
Local Community Leadership (i.e. resident leaders, elected officials, etc):
Julie Brown, Business and Professional People for the Public Interest (BPI)
Julie joined BPI in 1989 and currently is co-leader of BPI’s public housing program, directing both policy development and litigation efforts. As an independent public interest law and policy center for nearly fifty years, BPI is dedicated to advancing innovative solutions to pressing issues of social justice and quality of life in the Chicago region. Today BPI’s work is focused on housing and community development, justice reform, public education, and political reform. BPI lawyers and policy specialists use legal and policy research, advocacy, organizing, litigation and collaboration with nonprofit, business, community and governmental organizations to accomplish its mission. From its earliest days, BPI has been deeply involved in housing and community development. Today the organization works to increase affordable housing opportunities throughout the region, especially in safe neighborhoods with good jobs and good schools, and to help stabilize and strengthen neighborhoods that already have large supplies of affordable housing. Julie participates in Working Groups and Security Committees at mixed income communities throughout Chicago. Julie has been very active in Westhaven’s Security Committee since its inception. It meets monthly with property management, CPD, AGB Security, CHA, and community stakeholders. Julie also is an integral member of the Horner Westhaven Working Group. In both settings, she provides historical context, a legal perspective, and creative thinking.
Earnest Gates, Executive Director, Near West Side CDC
Earnest Gates is one of the principal people responsible for the transformation of the newly named “West Haven” neighborhood. Near West was born out of West Haven residents’ desire to organize against a proposed plan to build a new Bear’s football stadium in the community. Residents succeeded in their efforts, preventing the displacement of over 1,500 people and the destruction of hundreds of homes. In 1988, the group of community members formally banded together to establish Near West as a not-for-profit organization working to improve the quality-of-life for all residents. Earnest Gates, through his leadership and negotiation, has restored the hope of the neighborhood and worked relentlessly to transform it into a stable working-class community.
Kenneth Butler, Executive Director, Major Adams Community Committee (M.A.C.C.)
In December 1996 after the departure of the Henry Horner Boys and Girls Club, three organizations (Youth Services Committee, Horner Association of Men and Chicago Area Project) joined together to open the Major Adams Community Committee. The Major Adams Community Committee (Where Kids Matter) is named after its founder, James “Major” Adams a 1998 National Jefferson Award winner and living legend. For more than seven decades he worked with young people and their families to address social and economic issues. M.A.C.C.’s mission is to aid in the “Empowerment of Youth and Families”. This mission embodies the life work and beliefs of James “Major” Adams and continues to drive program philosophies today. The M.A.C.C is designed to enhance children and youth academic and character development skills, supply knowledge on health awareness, provide physical fitness activities, and teach its children and youth participants the history and concepts of community engagement.
Crystal Palmer, Assistant Director of Resident Engagement, Chicago Housing Authority
Crystal is a former resident of the Henry Horner Homes and a former Local Advisory Council President (LAC) of the Henry Horner Homes in which she represented the residents of the Henry Horner. Crystal lived in the area where the United Center is now for much of her life. From 1968 to 2013, she lived in the Henry Horner Homes, a Chicago Housing Authority public housing project that was composed of high-rise buildings along with a sprinkling of low-rise buildings.
She is a community leader who serves as Vice Chair of the National Public Housing Museum Board of Directors. She works extensively in the community of Westhaven. As CHA’s Assistant Director for Resident Engagement, Crystal brings programs, initiatives and resources to CHA residents throughout Chicago. At Westhaven, she works directly with property management when there are disputes with residents to advocate for the residents, and collectively come to a resolution that supports all parties.
Horner/Westhaven LAC & HRC Members
Horner Westhaven Local Advisory Council (LAC)
Founded as a 501 (c) 3 organization in 1971, the Chicago Housing Authority Central Advisory Council (CAC) is the jurisdictional wide tenant organization for public housing residents recognized by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. There are fourteen Local Advisory Council (LAC) offices located throughout Chicago. Horner/Westhaven has a very active LAC. Their members work with the Central Advisory Council to represent tenants, and provides input into the Chicago Housing Authority’s (CHA) policies and matters that impact tenant rights and interests. The CAC’s mission is to work towards improving the quality of life for all tenants in federally subsidized housing in Chicago.
Horner Resident Committee (HRC)
The Henry Horner Homes were constructed in 1957 in a 10 city-block area, bounded by Hermitage, Lake, Damen, and Washington. The development consisted of eleven buildings containing 920 units—seven that were 7-stories tall, and four that were 16-stories. By 1961, the Henry Horner Extension was completed, adding another 736 units. The Extension, covering 12 city blocks, was bounded by Damen, Lake, Oakley, and Washington. These buildings were the typical Chicago “gallery-style” high-rises, with wire fencing of the galleries on both sides of the elevator shaft on each of the upper floors. In November 1981, the overall vacancy rate at Horner was 2.3 percent, or 40 vacant units. The vacancy rate at Horner climbed steadily for almost ten years. The vacancy rate peaked in May 1991 at 49.3 percent, or 868 vacant units. In 1991, CHA stated that in the opinion of many residents, staff and housing activists, Horner “is the authority’s most troubled development,” and “one of the most distressed public housing properties in the nation.” Due to the deteriorating conditions, the Horner residents filed a lawsuit to improve these conditions. In 1991, the Henry Horner Mothers Guild (a not-for-profit corporation) filed a class action lawsuit against the Chicago Housing Authority and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the federal agency that oversees public housing. In 1995, the Horner parties agreed on the terms of a consent decree to resolve the litigation. Under the decree, Horner was to be redeveloped in phases, with demolition phased so that displacement would be minimized. The Horner decree provided for the creation of the Horner Residents Committee (HRC), a seven-member resident committee, to help implement and enforce the consent decree. The decree requires CHA, the Horner developer, and Horner management to consult and attempt to reach agreement with the HRC on all matters relating to the implementation of the decree. If agreement is not reached, any party may seek resolution through the Horner court. The HRC has meets monthly with its counsel and consultants to make decisions regarding the Horner redevelopment effort. HRC must be involved in approving any security company hired for Westhaven on behalf of Interstate Realty Management and the developer. They intervene to advocate for residents as they see fit. HRC members screen on a Tenant Selection Committee screen prospective Westhaven public housing CHA residents before the applicants are approved to move in.
Alexander Phillips, Former Principal, Suder Montessori School
Suder Montessori Magnet School is dedicated to ensuring successful, nurturing, and enriching experiences for all children. Suder Montessori is the heart of the community, opening its doors and embracing all who come to learn. Alexander Phillips has been principal of Suder Montessori Magnet Elementary School since August 2012. Prior to coming to Suder, he was a principal, assistant principal, learning specialist, and teacher. Mr. Phillips has graduate degrees from Harvard University, the University of Massachusetts/Boston, and National Louis University. He is an alumnus of New Leaders, the Boston School Leadership Institute, and the Boston Center for Community and Justice.
During his career, Mr. Phillips has received multiple awards and grants including five National Endowment for the Humanities educator grants. He was among a select group of teachers invited to participate in the 40th anniversary Selma to Montgomery March. Suder School has a Local School Council (LSC) that includes the principal, teachers, staff, parents, and members of the community. It meets monthly and votes on and discusses policy, procedures, budget items, and programs.
Alicia Griffin, Assistant Director of Operations, AGB Investigative Services, Inc.
(Westhaven/Villages private Security Company, Patrol seven days a week, one eight-hour shift for each property.) Founded in 2001, AGB Investigative Services, Inc. is a full-service asset protection and risk mitigation company, providing expertise in all aspects of security from physical to virtual for clients nationwide. Interstate Realty management hired AGB to provide armed security services to Westhaven Park and the Villages of Westhaven in October of 2015. In addition to covering Westhaven, AGB patrols the neighboring Horner Annex and CHA scattered site locations. This provides continuity of coverage in a large geographic area. Several property management companies and the Chicago Housing Authority are involved. AGB has a satellite office at WHP in a commercial space at 123 N. Damen. Their offices are located directly under Westhaven Park residential rental units. AGB has visibility in the community and quick access to areas they patrol. Ms. Griffin oversees all AGB operations at Westhaven including dispatch, reporting, and patrol of Westhaven Park and Villages of Westhaven. She coordinates with IRM management and resident services for hours of service and to problem-solve if problems with residents or those criminally trespassing arise.
Father Matt Eyerman, Pastor, St. Malachy
Father Eyerman has been the pastor at St Malachy’s since 2011. St Malachy’s is over 100 years old. Irish immigrants started St. Malachy Parish in 1882. By the 1940s, the church became home to African American Catholics who had migrated to Chicago. Today, it is one of the city’s oldest predominantly black Catholic parishes. It’s just blocks from Westhaven Park. For more than 100 years, the church has run an elementary school. It educates approximately 270 students from the neighborhood, which still faces high levels of poverty, unemployment, and violence despite ongoing urban development. Extended day goes from 6:30 am to 6:00 pm. Father Eyerman is extremely involved in the community as an advocate for families, peace and justice.
Craig Turner, President, Westhaven Park Tower Condo Association, WHP Resident
Craig Turner and his family have been living in Westhaven Park since 2006. As well as being an engaged community resident for over ten years, Craig has served as the President of the Board of Directors of the Westhaven Park Tower Condominium Association for approximately seven years. This is a time-consuming, complex, volunteer position. Lots of time, not a lot of thanks. The association is a non-for-profit corporation. The board has a fiduciary responsibility to the owners. In general, the board members are the decision makers for the association. The Board of Directors are individual homeowners who live in the condominium building. They are elected to that position by the members of the association. The Board establishes rules and regulations for the Association; sets annual assessment rates; contracts for services of the Association such as management, maintenance and landscaping; enforces the CC &R’s. As Board President, Craig frequently communicates with owners, management, and the developer to identify and solve problems, some small, some very serious. Complaints can encompass crime in the neighborhood. As a community steward, Craig will be able to share viewpoints of home owners, which may differ from renters of Westhaven Park.
Alderman Walter Burnett, 27th Ward
Walter Burnett, Jr. was born in Chicago. He and his family lived in the former Cabrini Green public housing complex. Burnett has been an Alderman since 1995. He is serving his seventh term as Alderman of the 27th Ward. Burnett is a strong advocate for affordable housing in the City of Chicago and all developments within his ward are required to have an affordable component to the project.
Alderman Burnett is closely connected to the Westhaven community. He has worked on safety issues with CPD and community leaders for decades. Alderman Burnett has consistently negotiated with feuding gang members to facilitate cease fires when shootings have escalated.
CPD Commander Stephen Chung, District 12, Near West Side
Chung is a 20-year veteran of the Chicago Police Department. He worked in the Bureau of Patrol, Bureau of Detectives and the training division. In 2016, Chung was appointed Commander of District 3. October 17, 2017, Chung was appointed Commander of District 12, Near West District. Westhaven Park staff hosts bi-monthly Community Policing meetings for beat 1223 which is an area much larger than the property itself. We work with Community Policing office (formerly known as CAPS), detectives; CPD at many levels. Westhaven Park works closely with the Commander’s office. We have not had a chance to meet Commander Chung in person yet. The Commander is implementing “Coffee with the Commander” which shows an intent to be accessible to residents.
Joni Stahlman, Director of Operations, St. Leonard’s House, St. Leonard’s Ministries
Founded in 1954, St. Leonard’s Ministries provides comprehensive residential, case management, and employment services for those released from prison without resources needed to rebuild their lives. St. Leonard’s Ministries (SLM) is an umbrella agency that provides residential and supportive services to men and women exiting Illinois prisons. Originating in the mid-1950s through the support of the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago and the vision of its founder, Father James Jones, the agency has gradually expanded to include the programs listed below:
ST. LEONARD’ S HOUSE: interim housing and services for men
GRACE HOUSE: interim housing and services for women
ST. ANDREW’S COURT: housing and services for men who complete the St. Leonard’s House program
MICHAEL BARLOW CENTER: education and employment training programs
HARVEST COMMONS RESIDENCE: housing and services for men and women who complete the St. Leonard’s House and Grace House programs.
Our team continuously strives to make Villages of Westhaven an inclusive, supportive living space. We would like to add a community room, and are in need of volunteers and local leadership for our residents. Can you help us achieve this goal?