HUD Fields Demolition Concerns From Frustrated East Chicago Locals

Jun 26, 2017

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is moving forward with a plan to demolish East Chicago’s lead-contaminated West Calumet Housing Complex.

Residents had many questions and received few answers at a tense public meeting about the environmental review of the plan Monday night.

The city of East Chicago finished relocating more than 1,000 housing complex residents this spring. Officials plan to demolish the complex’s buildings later this year.

HUD must first sign off.

But residents expressed concern that demolition will unearth more toxic soil, spread contaminated dust, pollute groundwater, or harm nearby residents or workers on site.

Recently relocated West Calumet resident Tara Adams is one of many who urged the agency to conduct a full Environmental Impact Statement.

“What are your response actions?” she asked HUD officials at the hearing. “First you’re going to do A, first you’re going to do B – I need to know details, not just your word.”

Many residents were annoyed at an apparent inability to change their situation and lack of immediate answers to their questions.

HUD Deputy Regional Administrator Jim Cunningham says the agency will provide written answers from specialists. But that too upset residents, who say they want an opportunity for a true dialogue.

Cunningham says he’ll tell residents whether there will be an opportunity for a follow up meeting before a July 6 deadline for written comments.

Residents wanting to submit written comments can find information in the document below: