After Angela Gregg’s 4-year-old son was murdered while visiting Chicago over Labor Day weekend, her life – and finances – changed instantly. She had to quit her job in Alabama and move here to fight for justice for her son, one of dozens of children killed last year in Chicago.
The father of Gregg’s son – who was with the boy when he was shot twice in the head – also was impacted financially. He had to go back to work right after Mychal “MJ” Moultry Jr. was hit by gunfire that came from outside the South Side apartment where he was getting his hair braided.
“I’ve depleted everything that I’ve had,” Gregg said, noting she can’t get unemployment benefits from Alabama or Illinois. Though she’s received help from family and friends, the death of her only child has put a strain on her.
Gregg joined other victims advocates and state Rep. La Shawn Ford Thursday at a virtual press conference to push state and local officials to do more to help grieving families.
Ford and Donovan Price, with Solutions and Resources/Street Pastors, want the Illinois Housing Development Authority to set aside funding for victims of violence to help relocate them; and they want IHDA to work with the Illinois Department of Human Services, Illinois Department on Aging and the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services to provide relocation assistance.
The group also is urging the Chicago Housing Authority to review its procedures and ensure CHA is prioritizing grieving tenants wanting to move.
Ford said the state housing and development authority has relationships with landlords that provide lease agreements to low-income families, so it would be very easy for IHDA to work with landlords and relocate family members to places where they feel safer.
He said many families who couldn’t afford to move after their loved ones were killed have told him about being tormented by the people responsible for their relative’s death.
“Can you imagine having to wake up in the very house and neighborhood where a tragedy took place? It’s just not possible for a person to begin to heal,” the Austin lawmaker said. “We are asking the city and state to please listen to those who are hurting, and do the right thing to help them move on.”
Ariel Rainey, founder and CEO of Hustle Mommies, said for too many Chicagoans, “healing is a luxury” because they have no other place to live and don’t get paid days off from work.
We need this assistance to help them heal,” Rainey said. “We’re crying out for help.”
Residents needing help finding affordable housing can visit https://www.ilhousingsearch.org/ or call (877) 428-8844.