Inspired by Brandon Stanton’s Humans of New York, PEOPLE OF PUBLIC HOUSING is a simple project. With this collection of stories and images of those with lived experience in public housing, we hope to not only illuminate the diverse backgrounds of public housing residents, but also highlight some of the commonalities that we all share.
Meet JonTia Pegues, who lived in the ABLA community from 1987 to 1997: I love Jeopardy! and I really plan to be on there before Alex Trebek retires. I just saw an article the other day that he knows who he wants to replace him and I’m like, “Not yet!” So I have to prepare and take the test. I have this app in my phone that helps me keep track of my score while I’m watching the show – like I really love this show. That started probably when I was 12. When I started to visit my dad on the weekends, I saw that he liked Jeopardy! and he was really good at it. I was really surprised and then I just started watching Jeopardy! after that.
Meet Daniel Nicholson, who reflects on his time at Stateway Gardens from 1980 to 1997: “I always liked the lights. It looked like a stadium, a ball stadium. Comiskey Park was there at the time and you would hear that, but you would be present where you are. Just the lights. You’re a little kid looking up at a really, really tall building, a bunch of them just clustered together. Like nothing you could ever imagine.”
Meet Allen Schwartz, who grew up at the Jane Addams Homes and shared an early friendship with us: “I don’t remember whether it was in kindergarten or first grade. I got this bodyguard: this kid in my class, Monzardi, who was African-American. He was a big guy. I picture him as being six feet in first grade. Of course he wasn’t, but he was tall. He was bigger than everyone else, and for some reason, he decided to become my bodyguard. I didn’t ask him to and I’m not even exactly sure how it happened. But he decided to become my friend and my bodyguard. So for a while I felt protected by Monzardi, and I often wondered, ‘What ever happened to Monzardi?’ You know, now I’m 74 and he would be about the same age. Hopefully he’s still living and had a decent life.”