Piece image

Movin' Out the Bricks

From: Long Haul Productions
Series: Homeplace Series
Length: 27:46

Embed_button
A year in the life of Catherine "Coco" Means, as she leaves her long-time home in a Chicago public housing development and moves to her first private-market apartment on the city's South Side. Her move is part of a citywide effort to "transform" the lives of public housing residents -- but, does it really transform Coco? (Winner: 2003 Sigma Delta Chi Award for Excellence in Journalism)

Coco_small In the fall of 2002, Catherine Means was living on the tenth floor of what she describes as "hell" -- Chicago's Stateway Gardens high-rise housing project. In September, she finally got out from under the "bricks" at Stateway and into her first private-market apartment. Her move was one that thousands of public housing residents are making, as the Chicago Housing Authority systematically demolishes its notorious high-rise projects in favor of redeveloped mixed-income communities and Section 8 apartments. Coco, who, like her mom and grandmother has never had a real job, argues the move will "get me off my behind" and force her to do something with her life. But do things really change when you change your address? Long Haul followed Coco and her kids for over a year, from Stateway to her new apartment on the South Side. Movin' Out the Bricks aired originally in full form on Chicago Public Radio in 2003, and later that year, in a condensed form, on All Things Considered. Movin' Out the Bricks won the Society of Professional Journalists' 2003 Sigma Delta Chi Award for Excellence in Journalism in the radio documentary category.

Piece Description

In the fall of 2002, Catherine Means was living on the tenth floor of what she describes as "hell" -- Chicago's Stateway Gardens high-rise housing project. In September, she finally got out from under the "bricks" at Stateway and into her first private-market apartment. Her move was one that thousands of public housing residents are making, as the Chicago Housing Authority systematically demolishes its notorious high-rise projects in favor of redeveloped mixed-income communities and Section 8 apartments. Coco, who, like her mom and grandmother has never had a real job, argues the move will "get me off my behind" and force her to do something with her life. But do things really change when you change your address? Long Haul followed Coco and her kids for over a year, from Stateway to her new apartment on the South Side. Movin' Out the Bricks aired originally in full form on Chicago Public Radio in 2003, and later that year, in a condensed form, on All Things Considered. Movin' Out the Bricks won the Society of Professional Journalists' 2003 Sigma Delta Chi Award for Excellence in Journalism in the radio documentary category.

2 Comments Atom Feed

User image

Review of Movin' Out the Bricks

The high rise public housing projects that lined the Dan Ryan Expressway on Chicago's South Side are widely regarded as a mistake. But does tearing down these high rises and dispersing thousands of people to private market apartments automatically improve their lives? That's the question that producers Dan Collison and Elizabeth Meister attempt to answer in this half-hour documentary. Coco is the focus and narrator of this program. She's immediately impressed with her new apartment, which by most standards is humble: "This is like the Bahamas. This is literally like the Bahamas compared to Stateway ... I don't see no thugs hanging out on the corners." However, a few weeks later, she's admits to being bored with her new surroundings because there are "no friends around. It's boring. I miss Stateway." She also misses the beer drinking and pot smoking. Soon, her landlord scolds her for having too many people hanging outside the apartment. "I guess we just need to get out of our ghetto mentality," Coco says. This is an inside look at a person who is trying to turn her life around. It's done without expert interviews and without narration by the producers. It's sad, touching and insightful.

User image

Review of Movin' Out the Bricks

Coco's story is rather riveting. At first some of the transitions felt slow to me. I started to get really depressed when it seemed like she was going to make a bad life choice and move out of her new home rather than change her lifestyle. But then she turned it around and started to meet the challenges, and I found myself rooting for her. That's the mark of a great piece when you get personally involved in the person's story. Producers Dan Colliison and Elizabeth Meister interweaves this hero's journey with tenderness, car and professionalism. It's the small stories that can often be bigger than the headlines of the day. This is no exception. Stations would do well to check out "Movin' Out the Bricks" as a special with another of the Home Place Series half hours. This is really fine work. I'm still rooting for Coco...

Broadcast History

Movin' Out the Bricks aired originally in full form on Chicago Public Radio in 2003, and later that year, in a condensed form, on All Things Considered.

Transcript

HOST INTRO:

In Chicago, public housing high-rises--longstanding symbols of poverty, crime and neglect-- are coming down. It's part of an ambitious citywide initiative to improve the lives of Chicago's public housing residents. The Plan for Transformation, as it's called, is relocating some 25,000 families and seniors into rehabbed low-rise buildings, private-market apartments and mixed-income communities that are replacing the high-rises.

Last fall, Catherine Means took her Section Eight voucher and moved from Stateway Gardens at 35th and State--her home for the past eight years--into an apartment in the Englewood neighborhood on Chicago's south side. Like the area around Stateway, Englewood is poor and predominantly African-American, with one of the city's highest crime rates. But more and more, it's the kind of neighborhood that former public housing residents are calling hom...
Read the full transcript

Related Website

http://www.longhaulpro.org