West Calumet Housing Complex

Around 80 families are still living in lead-contaminated public housing in East Chicago, Indiana. This week, they’ll receive details about where the city plans to relocate them after the March 31 deadline to move out.

U.S. Housing and Urban Development spokeswoman Elena Gaona say 250 families have relocated from West Calumet Housing Complex since the lead crisis began last fall. Another 19 have housing lined up.

East Chicago is one of three Lake County cities receiving an extra $5.6 million from the state to tear down abandoned houses – but the city won’t be able to use the funds to demolish a lead-contaminated public housing complex.

The money comes from the state’s Blight Elimination Program, which distributed millions in 2014 to help towns acquire and demolish vacant homes.

 

Residents living next to a lead contaminated neighborhood in East Chicago, Indiana are now testing positive for lead. The results come after the city expanded blood testing services this summer.

So far, 21 residents of a housing complex outside the lead contaminated clean-up site have been tested for lead. Some have elevated blood lead levels. City officials couldn’t say how many.

Residents in East Chicago, Indiana, will get more time, help and money to move out of a lead-contaminated public housing complex.

The federal government announced Friday it has settled a discrimination complaint with the Chicago-based Shriver National Center on Poverty Law about the relocation.

Lauren Chapman / Indiana Public Broadcasting

The East Chicago Housing Authority is requesting $8 million from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

It says it needs more assistance leveling a housing complex on soil contaminated with lead and arsenic hundreds of times higher than federal safety standards.

East Chicago Mayor Anthony Copeland announced the city’s intention to demolish the complex last June. The more than 1,000 residents are eligible for HUD relocation vouchers.

AgnosticPreachersKid / https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:AgnosticPreachersKid

East Chicago residents are taking steps to open a fifth lawsuit over lead and arsenic contamination there.

Residents allege city and state officials knew about the pollution as far back as 1972, when the West Calumet Housing Complex was built.

More than 250 current and former residents, including 187 children, filed notices last week that they intend to sue the city of East Chicago.

Eric Pavlack is one of the attorneys representing the residents.

Most families in a lead-contaminated public housing complex in East Chicago, Indiana will miss their first deadline to find new homes on Oct. 31.

It means they’ll get extensions through the end of the year, but why has it been so hard to find housing?

On a recent rainy day in East Chicago, landlord Clay Brooks drills open a plywood front door on one of a row of vacant houses and ducks inside.

“So this is one that we’re rehabbing,” he says. “As you can see, some things that need to get done. This is a three-bedroom.”

Nick Janzen / Indiana Public Broadcasting

The Environmental Protection Agency is moving forward on plans to clean up a lead contaminated residential neighborhood in East Chicago.

The EPA has split the 3,000-person neighborhood in three, with a different plan for each part.

The Calumet neighborhood of East Chicago sits on a Superfund site that’s divided into three zones – 1,2 and 3 – based on who’s asked to pay for the cleanup.

EPA Regional Administrator Robert Kaplan says the lead contaminated soil in Zone 3 will simply be removed -- dug out.

Annie Ropeik / Indiana Public Broadcasting

 

The West Calumet neighborhood in East Chicago, Ind. is a federally designated clean-up site — a Superfund. Its soil contains lead and arsenic at levels that, residents recently learned, are much worse than expected.

Now, hundreds of families have been told to find new homes by November. But many residents — and their lawyers — say they can't move that fast without more help.

Joe Gratz / https://www.flickr.com/photos/joegratz/

Residents of East Chicago's West Calumet Housing Complex are suing local officials as well as the private companies charged with cleaning up the neighborhood's lead-laden soil. 

The suit was filed on behalf of 13 residents against the City of East Chicago and Mayor Anthony Copeland; the East Chicago Housing Authority and its director, Tia Cauley.

In June, Mayor Copeland ordered the demolition of the West Calumet Housing Complex because of lead contamination. Lead levels have been measured in excess of 100 times what’s considered safe.

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