Elected officials urged to assist Southside families impacted by gun violence


CHICAGO — A South Side woman twice affected by gun violence is calling on elected officials to step up and take action for families losing loved ones to crime.

Octavia Mitchell, Heal Your Heart Foundation founder, told WGN News that she has been hurting for a long time. Thirteen years ago, Mitchell lost her son, Izael Jackson, to gun violence. In the last 24 hours, gun violence also claimed the life of her 21-year-old nephew, Avante Holmes, inside the gates of Parkway Gardens, a low-income housing property at 64th and King.

Mitchell said that Holmes was on the way to visit his mother. When she heard gunshots the night of Jan. 9, she raced downstairs.

“Avante was her oldest. For her to walk out and see her baby with a bullet in his head, will she ever be the same?” Mitchell asked.

While she’s found solace in helping other mothers who’ve lost a child, Mitchell continues to push for legislation to help grieving families on the South Side, hoping her pleas are heard at the city and state levels.

She hopes elected officials will help relocate grieving victims, adding that it is vital that families receive assistance and therapy to help them get back on their feet.

“You have to still provide for the rest of your children,” Mitchell said. “You can’t bury a child and you can’t go back to work after two weeks.”

Mitchell says her calls and emails to local and state officials have fallen on deaf ears.

“I was told I have to be patient,” she said. “I have letters to Kim Foxx, the Governor’s Office, [Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot]; she led me on like she was going to meet with me and left me cold-blooded.”

She’s hoping someone finally listens.

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“I’m asking them to take this proposal to Springfield and let’s help these families,” Mitchell said. “This can’t be our life for the rest of our life.”

The Department of Housing and Urban Development, which assists with Parkway Gardens, responded to a message seeking comment, saying in part: “HUD is always concerned for the safety and well-being of residents. HUD provides rental subsidies for the units. With HUD’s assistance, the owner agrees to maintain affordability and physical conditions. HUD enforces said agreements and requires owners to address unacceptable conditions.”

The private property owner did not immediately respond to requests seeking comment.

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