High-Risers Book Release Recap

We had such an amazing evening last night with Ben Austen, Audrey Petty, J.R. Flemming, and Dolores Wilson as we celebrated the release of Ben's new book, High-Risers: Cabrini Green and the Fate of American Public Housing. We are so grateful to all who were in attendance last night and we are happy to share a few highlights from the evening below!


REMINDER: High-Risers Book Release Party

Today's the day! Come visit us this evening at 625 N Kingsbury St for a conversation with High-Risers author, Ben Austen, along with Audrey Petty and Cabrini Green activists.

The even begins at 5 pm with a free dinner, and the discussion will start at 6. We are expecting a packed house, so come early, as seating will be limited. There will be extra room for people to listen and engage with the discussion as well.

We'll see you there!

NPHM Awarded NEA Grant

The NPHM is excited to receive an Art Works grant from the National Endowment for the Arts of $30,000.00 for the restoration and return of the enchanting New Deal animal sculptures by Edgar Miller to the Museum’s Courtyard at the historic Jane Addams Homes located at 1322 West Taylor Street. 

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“We have assembled a dream team that includes acclaimed landscape designer Ernie Wong from Site-Design and Andrzej Dajnowski from the Conservation of Sculpture and Object Studio to restore and install these sculptures” says Lisa Yun Lee, the Executive Director of the NPHM, “and we are thrilled that these works of art will once again create a vibrant public space in their original historic setting, exemplifying the core belief that art and design create livable communities.”

The seven-piece public sculpture Animal Court by Edgar Miller was central to the design of the Jane Addams Homes, one of Chiago's most ambitious public housing projects.  Miller's sculptures were commissioned by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and, from 1938 to 2006, functioned as a gathering place in the courtyard of the housing project, where people crossed boundaries of race and class to build community.  As one of Chicago’s most innovative and multidisciplinary artists, Miller recognized public housing as a space for artistic experimentation and a platform for expressing democratic values—a place where an artist could realize the ideal of accessible art for all people.  

NPHM at NAHRO Conference, October 27-29th

NPHM is hosting a booth at NAHRO. 

The National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO) is a professional membership organization comprised of approximately 20,000 housing and community development agencies and officials throughout the United States who administer a variety of affordable housing and community development programs at the local level. NAHRO works to inspire and engage professionals in housing, community development, finance, government, and social services in collaboration with residents to create attainable and sustainable housing and communities for vulnerable families and individuals.

Partner with us!  Please visit nphm.org or email info@nphm.org to learn more.

Artist as Instigator: William Estrada

The National Public Housing Museum is collaborating with William Estrada-- a dynamic artist, educator, activist, and cultural worker for Artist as Instigator Residency.

Working collectively with artists, activists, and cultural workers, NPHM hopes to provide opportunities for artists and makers to incubate ideas and produce new work, while giving the Museum’s stakeholders opportunities to express their creative rights - expanding the notion of who is an artist and a maker.

William will work with Museum staff to create socially engaged projects and opportunities that help bridge the divide between the arts, culture, and innovative public policy around the Museum’s mission to preserve, promote, and propel housing as a human right. These projects will be integrated as part of exhibits, public programs, and/or events at the Museum or in surrounding communities. The residency is informed by the Museum’s resources and knowledge, oral history archive, staff, and public housing resident expertise, and community and advocacy networks.

William Estrada was born to immigrant parents and grew up assembling memories in California, Mexico, and Chicago. His teaching and art making practice focuses on engaging the complex experiences within marginalized communities and contested spaces. He documentsand analyzes public/private learning spaces to transform, question, and make connections to established and organic systems through discussion, creation, and promotion of counter narratives.

William's work is a discourse of existing images, text, and politics that appoints the audience to critically re-examine the meaning of their surroundings. As a teacher, artist, cultural worker,  and urban anthropologist he reports, records, reveals, and imparts experiences you find in academic books, school halls, teacher lounges, kitchen tables, barrios, college campuses, and in the conversations of close friends. 

William has presented in various panels regarding community programming, arts integration, and social justice curricula through the Illinois Art Education Association, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois Humanities Council, Smart Museum of Art, the National Guild of Schools in the Arts, National Art Education Association, Teachers for Social Justice San Francisco, Iowa University, and Grand View University.  In 2016 he was awarded the Teaching Artist Community Award from 3Arts Chicago.

His current research is focused on developing community based and culturally relevant programs that question power structures of race, economy, and cultural access.

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October 19th Opening Reception for Housing as a Human Right: Social Construction

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     This event is wheelchair accessible. Individuals requiring Sign-Language Interpreters, Real-time captioners, or other accommodations should contact Shirley Alfaro at (773) 245-1621 or salfaro@nphm.org at least one week in advance of the event.

This event is wheelchair accessible. Individuals requiring Sign-Language Interpreters, Real-time captioners, or other accommodations should contact Shirley Alfaro at (773) 245-1621 or salfaro@nphm.org at least one week in advance of the event.

NPHM partnered with ACE Mentor Program Chicago

Throughout the summer, NPHM partnered with ACE Mentor Program Chicago, an organization dedicated to providing high school students career opportunities in architecture, construction and engineering, to create an on-site installation at the future home of the museum. 

The ACE Summer Design team, comprised of rising high school seniors and professional mentors, unveiled the design project that has been in the works for 8-weeks on Friday August 11th. The design reflects the opening of the museum and extends to the surrounding community a glimpse of what is to come. The installation will stay standing throughout the construction of the museum. 

As NPHM works to build a strong community within and for the museum, we understand that often young people are at the forefront of these efforts and issues. This project showcases just that.


You can visit the installation at 1322 W. Taylor St.

National Public Housing Museum is a Finalist for ArtPlace America's 2017 National Creative Placemaking Fund


June 7, 2017----Extremely competitive national grant program will consider 70 projects  

Today, ArtPlace America announced that National Public Housing Museum is one of 70 finalists for the 2017 National Creative Placemaking Fund (NCPF).  ArtPlace selected these 70 proposals from 987 applications, making National Public Housing Museum’s project one of just 7% of the projects across the country to make this cut.

ArtPlace’s National Creative Placemaking Fund is a highly competitive national program, receiving 987 applications this year. Investing money in communities across the country in which artists, arts organizations, and arts and culture activity help drive community development change across 10 sectors of community planning and development: agriculture and food; economic development; education and youth; environment and energy; health; housing; immigration; public safety; transportation; or workforce development.  

The Entrepreneurship Hub at the National Public Housing Museum will be located at the future home of the Museum at 1322 West Taylor Street, the last remaining structure of the 1938 historic Jane Addams Homes public housing development. The project is inspired by the resilience of Chicago’s public housing residents who have worked in informal economies as artists, hair stylists, food purveyors, fashion designers, and social entrepreneurs. The Entrepreneurship Hub focuses on Chicago’s homegrown talent and invests in the innovative potential of public housing residents by providing support, resources, and collective imagining as they move their businesses from the kitchen table to the storefront and beyond. The Museum will use its cultural capital as well as its existing relationship with Chicago Housing Authority to nurture and grow the social and economic capital of low and very low-income people by providing gathering space to share knowledge, giving opportunities to build business skills through workshops, and offering creative, cultural, design, and architectural services to public housing residents in a dedicated effort to help realize their fresh, dynamic ideas. The Hub will be, as one resident put it, “a hand up, not a handout.” Rather than individualism or self-reliance, the Entrepreneurship Hub at the NPHM emphasizes community, interdependence, and the common good in order to advance sustainability and strengthen the city’s economic, social, and cultural fabric.

"The National Grants Program is actively building a portfolio that reflects the full breadth of our country’s arts and cultural sector, as well as the community planning and development field,” said ArtPlace’s Director of National Grantmaking F. Javier Torres.  “Knowing that these projects, and the hundreds of others who applied, are using arts and culture strategies to make the communities across this country healthier and stronger is inspirational "

“We believe that these projects, when added to our tremendously strong portfolio of demonstration projects, will inspire, equip and connect members of the arts and culture field, the community planning and development field and those who are working to make healthy and equitable communities creatively across the country,” said ArtPlace America Executive Director Jamie Bennett.

The complete list of the 2017 finalists for ArtPlace’s National Creative Placemaking Fund may be found here.

A new year, A new partnership

Actors from the American Theater Company production of "The Project(s)" perform the newest iteration of the work. (From L to R: AnJi White, Linda Bright Clay, Joslyn Jones, Kristin Ellis, and Maurice Demus.); Actress Joslyn Jones, who plays character Miss Beatrice Harris in the production, with the real Miss Harris. Photos courtesy of the National Public Housing Museum

The National Public Housing Museum is excited to deepen our relationship with the American Theater Company to co-create a curriculum around the hit play The Project(s) which brought the voices of public housing residents to the stage to rave reviews in 2015.

The curriculum and a condensed touring version of the play will be coming to Chicago Public Schools beginning this spring through American Mosaic, a program pairing teaching artists with ninth-grade English teachers to deliver an intensive six-week arts residency in Chicago Public Schools. In addition, the ATC’s Youth Ensemble will perform The Project(s) this summer.

NPHM will contribute to the curriculum in order to give teachers the resources they need to lead conversations about the fundamental role that housing plays in building thriving communities.

The Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times recently covered the collaboration. Click here to see the original coverage of The Project(s) by the Chicago Tribune. 

At a press conference on Wednesday, we got a sneak peek at the touring version, timed to fit inside of a class period, and actor Joslyn Jones, who plays Miss Beatrice Harris in the production, got to meet her character’s namesake.

Toward our mission to preserve, promote, and propel housing as a human right, will you help us invest in the next generation of civic leaders?

Chicago Housing Authority Board Approves Lease Agreement for NPHM

Board vote puts museum on track to open doors in 2018 at 1322 W. Taylor Street in Chicago.

 The last extant Jane Addams Homes building at 1322 W. Taylor Street, the site of the future National Public Housing Museum.

The last extant Jane Addams Homes building at 1322 W. Taylor Street, the site of the future National Public Housing Museum.


A Chicago Housing Authority board vote Tuesday signals a leap forward for the National Public Housing Museum. The board approved a lease agreement that will enable the Museum to lease half of the CHA-owned building on a long-term, $1-a-year lease. 

“This is such an important milestone for the Museum and we want to express our deep gratitude to the CHA board and staff for this vote,” said Transitional Executive Director Pat O’Connell.

The NPHM board and staff are raising additional funds for the build-out, planning a first phase opening and preview exhibit for October 2017 as part of the Chicago Architecture Biennial, and conducting a search for an executive director.

CHA CEO Eugene Jones, Jr. said, “The Chicago Housing Authority supports the National Public Housing Museum project and believes it is important to the CHA, our residents, the community, and the city as a whole because it will highlight the role that public housing has played in the lives of Chicagoans, while preserving and rehabilitating a historic building and transforming it into a vibrant community asset. The museum will be a welcome addition to Taylor Street and the Little Italy community.”

 Museum Board Chair Sunny Fischer says the board envisions a public opening in its new space in fall 2018. “We can now move forward because of the CHA board’s leadership – we are very excited.” said Fischer, who grew up in public housing in the Bronx, New York. “Public housing has played a major role in our national identity and has housed more than 10 million Americans from all walks of life. By talking about public housing, we talk about the public good.”

On Saturday, October 1st from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., at 1322 W. Taylor St., the Museum has scheduled a celebratory “Last Look” event inside the red-brick building, designed by John Holabird in 1938. This event, which is free and open to the public will be the last public viewing of the Museum before construction begins. For more information, please visit www.nphm.org. and sign up on the event’s Eventbrite page.

The National Public Housing Museum is the first cultural institution in the United States dedicated to interpreting the American experience in public housing. The Museum draws on the power of place and memory to illuminate the resilience of the poor and working class families of every race and ethnicity to realize the promise of America. It seeks to open its permanent home in the last extant building of the Jane Addams Homes.

The Jane Addams was part of ABLA Homes (an acronym for three other housing developments including the Robert Brooks Homes, Loomis Courts, and Grace Abbott Homes totaling 3,596 units) and sits prominently within the Little Italy neighborhood.

CLICK HERE to read the official news release

Green It and Represent the NPHM! - Two Volunteer Opportunities

Continuing the tradition from years past, the National Public Housing Museum is excited to move forward with its fifth Greening the Grounds event which we-re now calling Green It! We're excited to invite our friends, supporters, and volunteers back to our future home at 1322 W. Taylor Street to weed the grounds at the front of the Museum and plant the pots of our front porch on Wednesday, August 17th from 4:30 to 6:00pm. Come any time and dressed as you are and enjoy the summer sun and make some new friends. Please RSVP to Daniel Ronan, the Manager of Public Engagement at dronan@nphm.org or call us at 773-245-1621.     

Connect with our Neighbors on Taylor Street at Festa Italiana

Join National Public Housing Museum staff, board members and fellow volunteers past, present and future at our 3rd annual friend-raising booth at Festa Italiana, the venerable street festival bringing together neighbors of Little Italy, ABLA, UIC and beyond.

Come and be among the first to learn about major upcoming milestones that will soon transform our historic site into a working Museum -- this Fall and into 2017! You’ll be a vital partner in kicking off this word-of-mouth campaign to inform and excite Chicago neighbors and citizens about the coming changes at 1322 Taylor Street.  

You’ll also help us to keep interested visitors to our table engaged as NPHM subscribers, future volunteers, and first-person experts whose stories of lived experience have the power to transform our understanding of public housing history.

To sign up for a shift, please tell us which shifts you can volunteer via our Doodle link HERE. We'll circle back and confirm your shift.   

Questions? Contact Associate Director & Curator Todd Palmer at tpalmer@nphm.org or 773-245-1658

As always, thank you for volunteering! 

National Public Housing Museum Pleased to Host Telling Stories, Telling Belongings Program in Rockford, IL this June

To RSVP for this program, CLICK HERE

On Thursday, June 16, the National Public Housing Museum will host its third iteration of the Telling Stories, Telling Belongings program in Rockford, Illinois. The program, inspired by the initial grass roots efforts of public housing residents to found the Museum, will use the power of personal narrative and storytelling to connect with material culture. 

In partnership with the Rockford Housing Authority and the Rockford Area Arts Council, the Museum is excited to help change perceptions of public housing as well as offer an opportunity for Rockford residents of all backgrounds to connect and form new relationships. 

As a physical museum, the NPHM will work to collate public housing narratives from across the United States. Telling Stories, Telling Belongings, is one such way the institution uses collective memory through public programming to increase the impact of these stories nationally in telling the Museum's story here in Chicago. 

In a community "show-and-tell" format, Rockford community members including public housing residents will have the opportunity to tell a story personal to them. Be it a story of growing up in public housing, a first date, or a birthday, the evening program, like the program hosted in Chicago in March, will feature stories through cherished belongings that recall memories worth recounting and reliving. 

Inanimate objects hold intrinsic power to open up memories and also force stories to the surface. As the National Public Housing Museum moves closer to groundbreaking in 2017, we anticipate the objects or belongings brought to Telling Stories, Telling Belongings programs as a candidates for objects in our museum collection.

Together the Museum looks forward to Rockford stories and the personal narratives that assign meaning to everyday objects. Through these everyday objects, we can begin to understand the everyday importance of community relationships which help not only to change perceptions of public housing and its residents, but also change perceptions of a community and its diverse background and experiences.  

For a program press release, CLICK HERE

Reflecting the Future event uses Poetry to Engage with Public Housing Policy

 From left to right, poet presenters Shakira Johnson, Sandra Cornwell, and Salyndrea Jones. Charlie Barlow is in the back.

From left to right, poet presenters Shakira Johnson, Sandra Cornwell, and Salyndrea Jones. Charlie Barlow is in the back.

Last night, over 60 members of the public came to hear three poems by both former and current public housing residents about their experiences in Chicago public housing. Led by Charlie Barlow, a Lecturer in Public Policy and Geography and the current Director of the Chicago Policy Research Team at the University of Chicago, the policy conversation used three poems to help create discussion and interaction among the poet presenters and audience members. 

A former resident of Stateway Gardens, Salyndrea Jones delivered a poem of her public housing experience when her family was relocated to mixed-income housing. Shakira Johnson presented her poem on living in Westhaven Apartments, a mixed-income community that replaced Henry Horner Homes. Lathrop Homes resident Sandra Cornwell recalled in her poem the Chicago Housing Authority's Plan for Transformation opening up discussion among audience members and her fellow poet presenters what lies ahead for public housing and the future of affordable housing.   

Thank you to all that attended and we look forward to keeping you engaged in events in Chicago and Rockford, Illinois this summer! 

How did we do? If you attended the program last night and did not fill out an audience evaluation, please tell us what you thought in this brief survey

The Museum would like to acknowledge Ryun Miller and Robert Baudry for volunteering at this event. Would you like to volunteer at a future event? Please contact Daniel Ronan, the Manager of Public Engagement, at dronan@nphm.org, or (773) 257-7241. 

The Museum would also like to acknowledge Maggie Queeney of the Poetery Foundation for guiding Shakira and Salyndrea through the poetry workshop to create the poems you see below.


Salyndrea Jones

Salyndrea lived in the Stateway Gardens public housing project from when she was born in 1993 and moved out in 2003. In that same year, Salyndrea and her family moved to Englewood into the St. Agnes Village Apartments until 2007 when her family was relocated to the new mixed-income development that replaced Stateway Gardens, the Park Boulevard Apartments. She recently moved out of her mother’s home in Park Boulevard into a low income apartment near 67th and Stony Island. At the end of April, Salyndrea participated in a workshop with the Poetry Foundation to develop this poem.


Street lights

Tall buildings

Crowded hallways

Broken elevators

Is where it began

Not where it ended

We needed a transition

Leaving behind

Abandoned buildings

Bricks and gravel on an empty lot.

With a bunch of memories

I suppose.

This project was never made for the saving grace.

As my grandmother graced the hallways just to make a way for her children

I am a product of my environment

But I'm looking to inspire

I got a taste of the black power mixtape now everything in my eyes looking a little vague.

No time to play I got a lot to gain...

But it wasn't all bad

That's just half the story

See everybody

Knew everybody

Somebody knew somebody

We were like family

We all stuck together

"icy cup, chips with cheese me please" to the lady on the 4th floor that was the candy store.

I remember summertime field trips and back to school parties...

Playing on the porch with my cousins

Going to the center

Great childhood memories

We need to get that back

for our next generation

We need our communities back


Need our people back

Why not start here....

Shakira Johnson

Shakira lived in Westhaven Apartments (on the site of the former Henry Horner Homes) in the Near West Side from 2005 to 2015. From Westhaven, Shakira moved into the Noble Square Senior Apartments to live with her grandmother. She now lives in a building in Humboldt Square where she pays 30% of her income in rent to an affordable housing developer. At the end of April, Shakira participated in a workshop with the Poetry Foundation to develop this poem. 

Many Windows Inside of Many doors

Peeling paint, old brown bricks, construction on every floor.

Sounds, laughter, cries of pain, secrets behind every door.

Apart for years, family ties reuniting.

Relationships torn apart by the rumors started behind the next door.

Levels up there's windows, with missing screens and dust.

Bars on the windows, feeling trapped in my own home.

Secrets, lies, laughter, tears of pain, even tears of joy.

Thin walls with many doors, something’s going on.

Adults fighting while children are playing. There's the beating of the drums.

For nine years straight in my home,

This is where I belonged.

Sandra Cornwell

Sandra has lived in Julia C. Lathrop Homes, located at Clyborn, Damen & Diversey, for 28 years. She has been the Lathrop Local Advisory Council president for eight months and before served as the LAC’s long-term secretary. In addition to her LAC activities, Sandra has also been a part of Lathrop’s tenant patrol and has held various volunteer positions in community groups such as Friends of the Chicago River and churches in her community. A self-taught poet, Sandra has taken to writing about her experiences in public housing. 

CHA Has a Transformation Plan

CHA has a Transformation Plan to tear up our block

Where we walked and volunteered

A place that gives a homeless person a place to stay

Flowerbeds everywhere, riverwalk

Where volunteers come to make it better for us

They told us it was not for the rich

Plans were made and then destroyed

Or so they say

“For sale” is what I heard

Moving us in and out

Back and forth

Condos up to the sky

Where do we stay?

What’s really going on?



Redevelopment plan

Decisions made at the table without us

Meeting after meeting

Putting in our time

We stand out

A neighborhood with many different personalities and colors

Many different ghettos of my life



Smiling faces

Pushing us around

Back and forth

These are our homes

We were here first

Lord, where is my hope

People in despair

CHA has a Transformation Plan  


Thank you to our program partner: 

Chicago Tribune showcases National Public Housing Museum

The Chicago Tribune features writer Steve Johnson showcased the work of the NPHM as the Chicago Housing Authority moves to finalize the lease for the Museum's future home on Taylor Street. Titled "Chicago National Public Housing Museum aims for conscience," the article features the history of the Museum in the making as well as our key supporters.

 Sunny Fischer, board chairwoman of the National Public Housing Museum, stands beneath a rusty door frame in the former public housing building in the 1300 block of West Taylor Street that will house the museum. (Abel Uribe / Chicago Tribune)

Sunny Fischer, board chairwoman of the National Public Housing Museum, stands beneath a rusty door frame in the former public housing building in the 1300 block of West Taylor Street that will house the museum. (Abel Uribe / Chicago Tribune)

As the CHA's CEO Gene Jones is quoted about the Museum, "It will also serve to highlight the role that public housing has played in the lives of Chicagoans while ... transforming (the building) into a vibrant community asset." — We couldn't agree more. Moreover, we plan to build an institution which will interpret the public housing experience here in Chicago and in communities across the United States. 

We need your help. As we begin construction of our building in 2017, we need your stories — whether you've been a resident, worker, policymaker, neighbor, or visitor — to interpret public housing and its residents on a national scale. To send us your story, please contact Daniel Ronan, the Manager of Public Engagement, at dronan@nphm.org or at (773) 245-1621. And, as ever, we appreciate your financial support. 

We would also like to invite you to our program this Thursday at Quinn Chapel which will feature the poetry of public housing residents and a discussion from resident perspectives on the implications of Chicago's Plan for Transformation. Please RSVP here.

Thank you for your ongoing support as we move ever forward.


Sunny Fischer, Board Chair

National Public Housing Museum  


Two Janes and a Walk a great success

On Sunday, over 50 people came out to enjoy the Mother's Day sunshine at the future site of the National Public Housing Museum to learn about the legacies of Jane Jacobs and Jane Addams. With coffee and cookies from Scafuri Bakery across the street, tour and walk participants heard about the Little Italy neighborhood, its history of ongoing redevelopment and the debates which have shaped this neighborhood on the local and national scale.

Starting at the Museum building at 1322 W. Taylor St., after a brief tour of the Museum's standing exhibit, Collection, Building, Action., two groups walked over to Hull-House for an in-depth tour into the life and legacy of Jane Addams.

We look forward to participating in next year's Jane's Walk