NPHM Hosts Assessment of Fair Housing Workshop

“It comes down to us, what kind of people we want to be, what kind of society we want to live in...”
-George Lipsitz

On April 25, Chicago Area Fair Housing Alliance, Enterprise Community Partners, and Oak Park Regional Housing Center and the National Public Housing Museum held the a conversation and workshop entitled Assessment of Fair Housing: Understanding Our History, Strengthening Our Communities conversation.

The program featured nationally-renowned sociologist, author, and expert on race and inequality, Professor George Lipsitz of the University of California in conversation with Undesign the Redline, a thought-provoking exhibition connecting the history of housing segregation to political and social issues of today, through the powerful narratives of the people and communities affected by redlining and other discriminatory practices.

Thanks to all involved with putting the event together!

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Celebrate National Poetry Month

In honor of National Poetry Month, we’ve collected a few poems written about public housing, as well as poems by public housing residents. Read them below!

A Black Girl’s Attempt At Escaping Gentrification

I pray y’all make my name a good poem
A liquor store lacquer
A flash mob crip walk on Garfield
I pray somebody writes an ode to Englewood
Turn my name into a city of God in gold
A black hole of black girl resurrection

-Patricia Frazier

Warriors Are Us

We are warriors that run through the dark…
We are warriors that yield onto no end…
We are warriors that restrain ourselves from failure…
We are warriors that prevail…
We are warriors hidden in the valley of our domain…
We are warriors not to go insane…
Yet we are warriors that need love…
Nurture the soul into the realm of nature’s source…
The source of heart…
Let us the warriors move forth into the next millennium, carrying the baggage of hope onto our shoulders…
Warriors of our destiny…
We are Lathrop Strong survivors of Earth!

-Tommy Woods, Lathrop Homes

An Inner City Tales (Ode to Cabrini)
Born into a tenement in the heart of the windy city in the summer of sixty-nine,
Fourth small mouth to be fed and second girl in line.
A time just after the assassinations of Malcolm, Medgar, JFK, and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King
A time when proclamations like "Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud," were the in thing.
When Bell-bottomed jeans and afros swayed effortlessly against the wind,
An era when Motown was king and Stax was In!
Our guardians were diligent and always instilled in us the need to get ahead,
Stressing that there is strength in numbers and to stick together no matter what was said.
70', school bells, limited teaching apparatuses and burned out teachers and no recess,
Escaping boredom, through reading autobiographies always held my interest.
Benefiting from RIF (Reading is Fundamental) reading Angelou, Hansberry, Morrison, Moody, X and Cruz.
Discovering and rediscovering, Richard Wright, Countee Cullen and Langston Hughes.
Brown scarred knees from repeatedly falling upon thick blacktop.
Corner stores, liquors stores, ice cream, pickles,
Now-n-laters, barber and beauty shops.
Loud sounds blaring to break through red glistening project walls, Aretha, Chaka, Diana, O'Jays, Jacksons, Curtis Mayfield and Lou Rawls.
Broken elevators, and broken dreams, straightening combs and fade creams.
Mayoral candidates making mockeries out of project residents by handing out
V-necks, turkeys, and miniature Christmas trees in exchange for votes.
Some project residents coming undone and always at each others throats.
Skateboards, hopscotch, jump rope,
Red Light Green Light and Mother May I?
Young men masquerading as gangsters on street corners, over already-conquered city turf, why?
Soon childhood laughter is silenced by gunshots and young bodies dropping.
Caskets, tears, sensing my own mortality at 13, anticipating my own heart stopping.
Guardians' tenacity paid off in the spring of '83 they rescued me,
Before our transition out of the ghetto,
I noticed young women making spaces in their bellies for little ones, completely throwing caution to the wind,
Yeah, babies having babies starting the cycle all over again...

-Doreen Ambrose-Van Lee

The Off/Page Project presents its latest short film, "This is Home," produced in conjunction with The Center for Investigative Reporting's new report on failures of Richmond, Calif.'s housing authority.

Off/Page recruited three Richmond poets -- Deandre Evans, William Hartfield-Peoples and Donte Clark -- to work with CIR reporter Amy Julia Harris in the Hacienda and Nevin Plaza housing projects, interviewing sources and walking through dilapidated, mold-infested buildings during her investigation. The poets also worked with drafts of CIR's research to inform their writing. Playing the roles of both documentarian and storyteller, the poets incorporated Harris' findings into their own investigation of the larger socioeconomic state of Richmond.

Watch the video below:

NPHM Public Art Entrance Announcement!


We are thrilled to announce that Amanda Williams and Olalekan Jeyifous will be creating the public art welcoming entrance of the Museum’s future home at the last remaining building of the Jane Addams Homes at 1322 West Taylor Street. Many thanks to the selection committee, chaired by Deanna Haggag, with Sunny Fischer, Brad White, Peter Landon, Dedrea Gray, Lisa Yun Lee, and Robert Smith, for their work. We look forward to working with Williams and Jeyifous and contributing to an amazing new public art work for the Near-West Side of Chicago!

Their artwork is intended to make a visual statement and help share the Museum’s mission, vision, and values of housing as a human right. If you are interested in supporting the design and installation of this permanent art piece, please contact our Director of Development, Sue Enright, at

In addition to this exciting news, Williams and Jeyifous have also been announced as the designers of the recently commissioned Shirley Chisholm monument in Brooklyn, New York. Chisholm was a trailblazer; she was the first black woman to serve in Congress, representing a district that encompassed Bedford-Stuyvesant, the neighborhood where she grew up. Four years later, she ran for president, becoming the first black woman to seek the nomination from either party.

We are so excited to be working with such talented and forward-thinking artists and wish them the best moving forward with the Chisholm monument and beyond!

Lisa Lee, Co-Chair on Lori Lightfoot's Arts & Culture Transition Committee

The NPHM is thrilled that our Executive Director, Dr. Lisa Yun Lee, has been named one of the Co-Chairs of the Arts & Culture Transition Committee for Mayor Elect Lori Lightfoot.

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“I’m proud to announce that this diverse group of leaders from across Chicago will be co-chairing our transition,” said Lightfoot. “It is a mix of experienced professionals who have worked long and hard for decades on the most pressing issues facing the city, and new voices bringing fresh perspectives.”

Lee will be working with other co-chairs, artist Nick Cave, Art Institute Trustee Denise Gardener, and President of the National Museum of Mexican art, Carlos Tortelero, along with a broad and diverse group of Chicago’s arts and cultural workers to advise and shape initiatives for the new administration.

Undesign the Redline Exhibition Opening Reflections

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Last week we launched our newest exhibition, Undesign the Redline, with our partners, the Chicago Area Fair Housing Alliance (CAFHA), at our gallery space at 625 N. Kingsbury Street. A collaboration with Enterprise Community Partners, Designing the WE, and Elevated Chicago, Undesign details the history of systemic discriminatory housing policy from the 1920s to the present day, alongside stories of resistance and activism against housing discrimination.

To compliment the exhibition, the NPHM has also curated works by two artists that showcase Redlining and housing activism; Celestia Morgan’s Redline, which examines neighborhoods in Birmingham, Alabama, and a collection of color photographs taken by Bernard Kleina of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s visit to Chicago in 1966 and the Chicago Freedom Movement.

You can read more about the exhibition courtesy of the Chicago Sun-Times.

A huge thank you to CAFHA for launching this exhibition with us, to Enterprise, Designing the WE, and Elevated Chicago for the creation of the panels, and to all who attended and commemorated the life and legacy of Dr. King last night.

If you weren't able to attend the opening, you can visit Undesign the Redline Monday through Friday, 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. If you're interested in booking a tour, please contact Mark Jaeschke or call us at (773) 245-1621.

NPHM Celebrates Women's History Month

In observance of Women’s History Month, NPHM celebrates the life and accomplishments of Dorothy Gautreaux, a community organizer, housing activist and resident of the Altgeld-Murray apartments in the South Side of Chicago. Together with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Gautreaux filed suit against the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), alleging racial discrimination in the distribution of public housing in the city of Chicago.

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While Gautreaux died of cancer before a ruling was made, a Federal Judge found in favor of Gautreaux shortly after in 1969. The impacts of this case on the fair and equitable distribution of public housing are widely felt today in Chicago and beyond. The restructuring of City Council rules diminished the control of aldermen over the development of public housing in their wards, which had led to almost all public housing being built in poor, black neighborhoods.

The resulting “scattered site” program in the city led to a more even distribution of public housing amongst Chicago’s various neighborhoods. The Gautreaux Assisted Housing Program helped people living in public housing move to communities which had previously been closed off to them.

Nationally, the program inspired Congress to create the Moving to Opportunity Program, helping families in public housing across the country move to more economically prosperous and racially diverse neighborhoods. Gautreaux’s case continues to shape how the CHA plans and develops housing in the city, and her activism was vital to the success of one of the most influential public housing desegregation lawsuits in the nation’s history.

To learn more about the nationwide history of housing segregation and activism, please visit the Museum’s upcoming exhibit Undesign the Redline, opening April 4th at our office on 625 N. Kingsbury St.

Undesign the Redline Exhibition Opening

Exhibit Opens April 4th at 5:30 PM
FREE and open to the public
With a party co-sponsored by Chicago Area Fair Housing Alliance
625 N Kingsbury St. Chicago, IL.
5:30-7:30 PM


The National Public Housing Museum invites you to the opening of an important interactive exhibit connecting the intentional and systematic racial housing segregation of the 1930s to political and social issues of today. Explore the history of housing discrimination and activism through the powerful narratives of the people and communities affected by redlining and its legacy.

Be inspired by stories of vision and change. Become part of the conversation for new equitable policies and practices.

Exhibit is presented by Enterprise Community Partners, Designing the WE and Elevated Chicago

A collection of the only known color photographs of Dr. Martin Luther King and the Chicago Freedom Movement, taken by Bernard Kleina during King’s visit to Chicago in 1966, will be on display. The exhibit will also feature an installation by Celestia Morgan that explores the histories of racially-based housing discrimination exemplified in Birmingham, Alabama.

Learn more here.

This event is wheelchair accessible. Individuals requiring sign-language interpreters, real-time captioners, or other accommodations should contact Mark Jaeschke at 773.245.1621 or at least one week in advance of the event.

Oral History Corps Benefit Performance

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Please join the National Public Housing Museum on March 20th at 7:30 PM at the Court Theater for Ntozake Shange's cherished work for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf. Tickets to this event were graciously donated by the Court Theatre.

The Archive is a collection of diverse and compelling stories of people who lived in public housing spanning from the 1940’s to the current moment. The collection includes intimate narratives that bear witness to an American history that is both brilliantly ambitious and deeply troubled. The Archive documents the histories of those not typically included in the mainstream record, and inspires listeners to discover opportunities, where many others might see only poverty and despair.  

The Oral History Corps is made up of an extraordinarily diverse group of individuals that the National Public Housing Museum has trained in recording, ethics, and interviewing skills. The Corps includes members who lived in public housing, as well as those who are committed in their work and lives to public housing.

The Play:  A sisterhood of eight women tell their stories through dramatic prose poetry, music, and movement. Told in vivid language, their experiences resound with fearless beauty and unity, despite exposing the unending challenges and oppressions that women of color face every day.

Director Seret Scott (Native Son) returns to playwright Ntozake Shange’s work after performaning as a member of the original Broadway cast from 1976-1978. She will inspire new audiences with this series of stories that still resonate profoundly forty years later.

You can purchase your ticket here.

Court Theatre is located at 5535 S. Ellis Avenue on the University of Chicago's Hyde Park Campus. The theatre is across the street from the Gerald Ratner Athletic Center, just south of the parking garage. Please print copies of your ticket or present the receipt on your phone upon arrival to the theatre.

The #55 Garfield bus stops on 55th Street at S. Ellis Avenue. From the Loop, patrons can transfer from the Garfield Red Line train or the #6 Jackson Park Express. For more public transportation options, please visit

Court Theatre offers free evening and weekend parking to its patrons in the garage at 55th Street and S. Ellis Avenue. Enter the garage from S. Ellis Avenue or S. Greenwood Avenue, and take a ticket from the machine upon entrance. For 30 minutes following the performance, the S. Ellis Avenue gate will automatically raise when your car approaches for a free and easy exit. It is not necessary to insert your ticket upon exisiting at the gate. If you stay for a post-show discussion, please as the House Manager for a validation ticket. There is accessible parking available in the garage.

Watts Up? Screening at NPHM

Join us on February 24 at 2 PM at the National Public Housing Museum offices for a viewing of the Watts Up?, a special 25-minute documentary produced at the Watts Arts Tower by community members from Imperial Courts, Jordan Downs and Nickerson Gardens in Los Angeles. The documentary focuses on the one year anniversary of the 1992 Watts Truce between the Crips and Bloods and the impacts it had on the community. The truce was declared in the days leading up to the the 1992 Los Angeles Riots and has been frequently been considered to be a major component of the decline of street violence in the city in the years and decades afterwards.

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In a video production class led by Nancy Buchanan and the late Michael Zinzun, Watts Arts Tower residents were taught how to shoot and edit video, and produced Watt’s Up that reviewed the impact of the gang truce after it had been in effect for one year, as well as looking at the systematic issues that allowed for the disenfranchisement of their communities.

History Lessons in Chicago Tribune's Best of 2018!


The NPHM was recognized by the Chicago Tribune’s Steve Johnson for having one of the top 10 exhibitions of 2018. History Lessons, which was on display this last summer, was ranked #6 of the year.

”Instead of showcasing rarefied objects in the standard museum fashion, this one put on display mundane things from public housing residents - a mason’s tools, a Pyrex dish, a garden hose - and told the deep human stories behind them”.

Read more here.

Holiday Hours


The Museum will be closed on December 24, 25, 26, and 31 and January 1. We will be open during our regular hours, 10 AM to 5 PM, in between the closures, December 27 and the 28. The Museum will re-open in 2019 on January 2.

We wish you and yours a safe and happy holiday season and look forward to sharing the new year with you.

The People's Forum on Public Housing and Housing Insecurity

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Instead of a traditional mayoral forum with candidates giving stump speeches about what they think we want to hear, the National Public Housing invites candidates, with Amara Eniya and Lori Lightfoot currently confirmed, to participate in an active listening session with real experts – the people. This includes people who are surviving in a time of housing insecurity, public housing residents who have been displaced by the Plan for Transformation, people living with disabilities and having a hard time finding accommodating Section 8 housing, activists working to include an amendment to ban discrimination against people with prison records, and advocates who are pushing to lift the ban on rent control. The NPHM believes in the power of these people and strongly advocates for a space where transparent discussion is possible.

Join us at National Public Housing Museum offices for intimate conversation circles where attendees will be able to speak directly to each other and leading mayoral candidates to share their stories and solutions.

The event is co-sponsored by Chicago Housing Authority’s Central Advisory Committee. Light snacks will be provided.

Space is limited and RSVP is necessary:

Jordan Peele to remake "Candyman"


Jordan Peele, acclaimed writer and director of Get Out is producing a "spiritual sequel" to 1992's Candyman that will be directed by Nia DiCosta. The original was set in Cabrini-Green, the housing complex located on the Near North Side of Chicago, and centered on an urban legend, a killer who entered apartments through his victims’ medicine cabinets.

Peele's sequel will take place in the now gentrified neighborhood where Cabrini once stood.

The medicine cabinet pictured below was salvaged from the Jane Addams Homes and is a part of the NPHM commitment to tell all the stories of public housing. So while the cabinet addresses the neglect and abandonment public housing complexes faced from lack of funding, gangs, and inefficient policing methods, there is more to the story. The Jane Addams Homes, like many other housing complexes, initiated innovative public health programs like on-site infant care and well-baby clinics, midwives to provide prenatal care, and wellness checks for the elderly and the most vulnerable residents.

Visit us today and see one of the medicine cabinets that is part of our current exhibition at 625 North Kingsbury Street.

S.H.A.R.P. Photo Exhibition

Annie R. Smith-Stubenfield use her first camera, a 126 film Instamatic, to document her life in and around the Ida B. Wells Homes. She now is a member of the NPHM board and leads the NPHM sponsored Senior Housing Alumni Resident Photographers (S.H.A.R.P.), a class that teaches seniors about camera operation, composition, and darkroom techniques.

The course culminated at the Oakwood Community Center, 3825 S Vincennes Ave, on Saturday November 3 at 1 PM with a free photography exhibit. The photos in the exhibition were curated by the Museum's Associate Director, Robert Smith.

You can view some of the photos below, the full exhibition is available for viewing on our Facebook page.

Top row, left to right: Clouds at Dusk by Dolly Dockery, A Slice of Pie with Ice Cream by Deborah K. Smith, Reflection on Glass by Deborah K. Smith, Guess What I Am by Eugene Clark.

Bottom row, left to right: An Intense Conversation by Eugene Clark, Motion by Jacqueline Greer, Candy Sell by Robert Scott, Three Wise Children by Deborah K. Smith

Decolonizing the Museum: Roundtable Discussion at Imagining America

On October 20, Museum staff, Dr. Lisa Lee and Mark Jaeschke were joined by activist and journalist, Jamie Kalven and former Chicago Housing Authority Tenant Patrol head, Crystal Palmer to share the Museum's plans for a cultural workforce program that abolishes forms of surveillance and expands the roles of public housing residents in key staff positions in education and visitor services.

The workforce program, which was inspired by the CHA’s Tenant Patrol, looks to reimagine what the traditional security positions in museums across the country look like. The Tenant Patrol emphasized the importance of the public housing community and taking care of its own, as well as personal growth for those who participated in the program. One of the Patrol’s tasks was to complete a “walk-down,” which would include doing maintenance runs of the buildings, checking in on the elderly during times of extreme heat and cold, and reporting crime during the early years of the program.

In the Museum setting, we imagine the workforce as a multifaceted approach that will allow public housing residents to continue the legacy of the Patrol. The Museum’s program will include the “walk-down,” which will attend to the Museum’s basic needs, but also will include work in guest services and as docents and educators.

Click below to scroll through photos from the talk.