What Are Your Stories About the Cabrini-Green Community?

The Better Government Association is examining the impact of the city’s decision more than 20 years ago to demolish the Cabrini-Green public housing development and build a new community, and we need your help.

(Davon Clark/CatchLight Local for Better Government Association)

If you’re familiar with the BGA’s What the Gov?, you’ll notice it’s changed! We’ll continue to provide you information on the inner workings of your government but also amplify community narratives and voices through civic reporting and programming. We’re accepting, reading and answering your questions, so please continue to share with us any curiosities or stories you have about the public officials and agencies elected to work for you.

As new high rises and upscale eateries have populated the Near North Side in Chicago, it is hardly recognizable as a space that was once a vibrant Black community. It is often portrayed only as an area deprived of resources and stereotyped as dangerous. We want to hear your stories of what Cabrini-Green — the community, its businesses and its people — was like.

The city of Chicago has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on the gentrification of the Near North Side. But the decades-old project is not done. In October, the city approved an additional $600 million to finish the work, saying the extra money is needed to finish the job. But how has the project affected those who lived and worked in and around Cabrini-Green? And will that mean the promises made to former Cabrini-Green residents will be fulfilled?

That’s why we’re coming to you.

Cabrini-Green was once one of the only Black neighborhoods on the city’s North Side. What stories have been lost about the community? 

Past or present, if you or someone you know has a connection to Cabrini-Green or the revitalized Near North Side neighborhood, we want to hear from you. How were you, your family or friends, affected by the razing of the public housing buildings? Are you still waiting to return to the new units built in the neighborhood? Where are you living now? What do you make of the recently approved $600 million pledge by the city to complete what was promised more than two decades ago?

Our goal is to create a space to hold and share these stories and learn directly from you what has been missing from the history of Cabrini-Green. We also want to hear about the impact the redevelopment of Cabrini-Green has had on your life. The publicly funded redevelopment came at the expense of many who were displaced, including folks who didn’t live long enough to see it.

Again, we hope that with your permission we can talk with you more about your stories and connections to Cabrini-Green that will help with our ongoing reporting on the political decisions that have disproportionately affected Black and low-income people.

How to share your story with us

If you are interested in sharing your story with us, you can get in touch in a number of ways:

If you text 'hello' to 312-967-9222, you can share your story through text messaging. Just follow the prompts. If you would like to write to us, please mail your letter to the BGA office at 223 W. Jackson Blvd. #300, Chicago, IL 60606. You can direct it to the attention of Olivia Obineme.

You can also use this form below to share with us your story or email us at engagewithBGA@bettergov.org


This story was updated at 6:00 a.m. on December 15, 2021, from its original publication date on November 5, 2021, following the launch of the "Cabrini-Green: A History of Broken Promises" investigation, a partnership with CatchLight and the Institute for Nonprofit News as part of the CatchLight Local Visual Storytelling Initiative