Melody Robinson has been home health aide at the Chicago Housing Authority for three years at the Las Americas Apartments in Pilsen. She cares for her 89-year-old mother, also a resident, for more than 23 years.
Melody has seen a lot during her time living at CHA. She’s seen strangers aimlessly walking around her building, people robbing and stealing. “I don’t feel safe here,” she says.
Considering how unsafe CHA facilities can be, Melody worries about the fact that Kates security officers aren’t properly trained. “If they don’t know what security is, they can’t provide it.” For this reason, Melody supports the security officers who are fighting for a voice on the job, higher standards and better training.
Melody is particularly concerned about fire safety. She says people frequently leave their gas on and she has to go into rooms to turn it off. The fact that Kates does not offer officers adequate training in emergencies, especially with so many tenants in wheelchairs, concerns Melody.
“If there was a fire, we wouldn’t make it out of here,” Melody warns.
Not only is training a concern, but Melody says her building has massive turnover, alleging she has seen more 100 security officers come in and out of her building. “There’s no one permanent, they keep on running through different people,” she says. With a union more security officers would stay on the job longer and continue building important relationships with tenants.
As someone who lives in the buildings and is there every single day, Melody would feel safer and more comfortable if she knew that the contracted security officers had better training. By coming together in union, security officers could hold Kates accountable for the training they need; it’s up to the CHA to ensure officers can come together for that union voice.