Temporary Moves Draw Near For Remaining West Calumet Residents

Mar 20, 2017

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.

The remaining 81 will be moved to lead-free units HUD and the city have chosen in East Chicago, Gary and Chicago’s Housing Authorities.

“If families are satisfied with their new units, they can opt to sign a lease and remain there as their new home, avoiding a double move,” Gaona said in an email. “If families do not like their new temporary home, they are encouraged to continue meeting with the housing counselors available to them to find their new permanent home.”

Residents are still using housing vouchers from HUD to search for new housing. Most of those vouchers expire in June.

Gaona says HUD will continue providing relocation services to residents that need them, but the agency will close its temporary West Calumet office on April 7 and move those services off-site.

Residents can also appeal the housing authority’s decision to move them, she says, and “can work with” the Housing Authority if they’ve found a new home but can’t move in until the beginning of April.

Otherwise, Gaona says, the Housing Authority is authorized to pay for the moves.

“Between March 31 to April 1 [sic], [East Chicago Housing Authority-]contracted movers will transport residents’ belongings to the emergency transfer units,” Gaona said in her email. “Final residents’ moves should be completed by April 3.”

After that, the city will still need HUD approval for its plan to raze West Calumet. HUD officials have said they expect to issue that approval after all families at the complex have moved out.