“Before he left for Milwaukee, my father split us into threes”


"My mom died when I was 10. There were nine of us. Before he left for Milwaukee, my father split us into threes. Three siblings went here. Three went there. Three there. He put us with an old aunt of his, and she didn't tell us until the night of. She said, 'Get your clothes ready. There's going to be two cars coming to get you tomorrow.' There were six of us then — he'd already given away the other three. The next day, two cars pulled up. We weren't allowed to say goodbye. We just got in the car. We drove with this young lady to Camden, Arkansas, which was about an hour away. Then we were greeted by the foster mother. The next day, she told us to get out of bed, that we're going to pick some peas. She put us right to work. It made me industrious, but it was harsh on a foster child. 

"What helped me the most back then and still to this day is the music. Country music like Roger Miller and Joe Diffie. That's what I listen to. It's peace. Willie Nelson, 'Always on My Mind.' The circus used to come to Arkansas and they would park, and I would hang around just to hear the music, and I talked to the people. Roger Miller was one of my favorite artists back then. 'King of the Road.'
"My sister wanted to bring all the siblings up to Chicago, and she did, but she brought them up here to mistreat them. To try to turn them to prostitution, which never did work for me. She was 18, but she was passing for 36, believe it or not. I was 16. What my sister used to do was to bring someone to her apartment and ask me to babysit for her, and then she would leave and the guy would rape me. It's a lot. To this day, I cannot tolerate her. If I were to sit here and tell you the whole story, you wouldn't believe it. 

"There were days I couldn't come out of the house. It was depression. I didn't know what it was then. I had depression. I'm like that now, but I'm able to overcome it. A therapist helped me. He was the first one to listen. 

"I ended up in a transitional shelter in Rogers Park. I'd hurt my back. I worked for Sander Electronics for 20 some years as a mail clerk. The requirement was to load 50 pounds of mail, and I injured a disc. In 2000, they announced that they had applications for this building, the Housing Authority of Cook County. So I got on that train, got off at Davis, walked down to the library and I got my application. I took it back to the shelter and I filled it out. The following day, I went to the post office and I put a first class stamp on it. Other women were there putting priority, special delivery. I put a regular stamp on it. Within six months, they notified me. This was 2001. At the time, it wasn't this building, it was another building down the block here, and they told me they had their quota, so do you want to redo your application a second time? I said, 'Yes, I do.' I kept redoing applications, so finally transitional had found me an apartment on Howard by the Red Line. I lived there from 2002 to 2005. Then I got the call to move here in 2006. I've been in Chicago, if I live to next July 4, 50 years. It seems like yesterday that I moved here. 

“My home since the rehab? It's heaven now, because rain used to pour into our units. It had old floors, but it was still home. This is a big turnaround. This apartment is a 200 percent increase for me. The appliances … I'm a baker, and I had to work hours to make a couple of cakes. Now, I can put two cakes in at one time."

 - May Morgan, Jane Perlman Apartments Resident

Enterprise is proud to have been a partner of the Housing Authority of Cook County on the renovation of the Jane Perlman Apartments: 

  • Equity: $15.6 million in Low-Income Housing Tax Credit equity (Bank of America was the investor) 
  • Debt: A $3.4 million mortgage loan from Bellwether Enterprise Real Estate Capital 
  • Capacity Building: Enterprise helped develop the capacity to undertake these large-scale renovations.
  • RAD: Enterprise helped design the demonstration, advocated its importance to lawmakers and led efforts to lift RAD’s cap beyond its initial authorization. 
  • Transit-Oriented: the developments are in walking distance to train and bus stops

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