On March 7, residents of 3542-44 S. State, in the middle of the Stateway Gardens public housing development, got their 180-day notice. As part of the CHA’s sweeping “plan for transformation,” the ten-story building–dubbed the “house of pain” by local gangs–is coming down in September; the 70 or so families in residence have to figure out what to do next. “I’m not sure who or what’s gonna end up being transformed,” says Andre “Dre” Williams, the building president. “Is it just gonna be the neighborhood or is it gonna be the people who live here now?” Williams, the narrator and focal point of Dan Collison and Elizabeth Meister’s half-hour radio documentary The House of Pain, is a lifelong Stateway resident who’s worked with the Neighborhood Conservation Corps, an advocacy group with an office on the ground floor of his building, for about the last five years. For four months Collison and Meister followed Williams as he checked out safety problems, looked in on tenants, and talked to people about the future. They’ll host two free listening sessions premiering The House of Pain–the first in a series of pieces they hope to make at Stateway–on Saturday, May 11, at 12:30 and 2 PM at the Chicago Public Library Bee branch, 3647 S. State. Patricia Evans will exhibit photographs of the rapidly changing neighborhood, and each session will be followed by a discussion. Reservations are requested; call 312-832-3333. The documentary airs Wednesday, May 15, at 6 PM on WBEZ as part of the “Chicago Matters: Inside Housing” series. It’ll be rebroadcast Tuesday, May 21, at 10:25 AM.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Patricia Evans.