There are No Children Here: Life in the Projects

There are No Children Here: Life in the Projects

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Life in the Projects Exposed in There are No Children Here


The book There are No Children Here by Alex Kotlowitz is a very tough yet emotional book. This book is important to me because it really made me see how fortunate I am to be living in a good and safe environment. In this powerful and moving book, reporter Alex Kotlowitz traces two years in the lives of ten-year-old Lafeyette and seven-year-old Pharoah Rivers as they struggle to beat the odds and grow up in one of Chicago's worst housing projects called Henry Horner.

Lafeyette and Pharoah live with their mother LaJoe. LaJoe also had three older children, LaShawn at the age of twenty five was the oldest. She worked as a prostitute from time to time to support her drug habit. The next oldest, nineteen-year-old Paul, had served time in Indiana prison for burglary. Terence, now seventeen, had began selling drugs at the age of eleven and had been in and out of jail. LaJoes youngest kids were a set of four-year-old triplets, Timothy, Tiffany, and Tammie.

All eight children had the same father, Paul, to whom LaJoe had been married to for seventeen years. The two had long ago fallen out of love. He lived at the home occasionally

The families living conditions were horrible. They lived in a very small apartment which at times had more than ten people living in it. Since LaJoe was a very friendly and considerate person, she brought many kids and adults "under her wing" and took care of them when in need. Some kids in the neighborhood even called her "mom." LaJoe did not have the heart to turn her back on anyone that appeared at her door.

All the apartments in Henry Horner were falling apart, many of which were vacant. During the spring of 1989 inspections were taking place in the basements of Henry Horner projects by the Manager, Assistant Manager, and maintenance Superintendant. The reported conditions of the basements shocked me. An estimated two thousand appliances, refrigerators, kitchen cabinets, doors, burners, grates, etc. were standing in pools of water rusting away. The basement was heavily infedsted with roaches and flees. Dead rodents were lying in storage areas. The stench and odor was unbearable. After much fighting LaJoe finally got the Chicago Housing Authority employees to clean the basement.

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Henry Horner had many gang related problems. The gangs ran and controlled the neighborhood. Frequent rivals between the major gangs, the Vice Lords and the Disciples, would usually take place. Many times the children had to fall to the floor after hearing gun shots just to protect them from getting shot. This was a common picture and the children along with adults had to deal with it. Many people living in this neighborhood did not talk out loud about the gangs for fear that someone may hear them and therefore try to harm them.

This book was very good and showed how it is to be black and live in the projects. It showed many different problems these people had to deal with and of course these problems still exist.
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