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Chicago Public Housing

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Introduction

Chicago Public Housing: Past, Present, Future The public housing situation in the City of Chicago has been controversial since its beginnings. From the start, Mayor Richard J. Daley received a lot of criticism for his building of the Robert Taylor Homes, referred to by many as a "70 million dollar ghetto."1 Over the years, the public housing situation in the city has caused great debate among city council and continues to be a hot issue within Chicago politics. I will review the history of policy, as well as take a look at the current situation and the future for public housing. To understand the arguments within public policy, we must first get an idea of the history of public housing in Chicago. The goals of any public housing program are to provide decent housing for poor and low-income households. Over the past fifteen years, affordability has become the major housing problem in the United States; large sectors of the population cannot afford to rent a decent apartment, buy a new home, or maintain an existing home. The housing costs for low-income households have risen faster than for any other group, while their real incomes have declined. The most extreme consequence of the problem of housing affordability has been the visibly increasing population of homeless people located around urban areas. 2 In Chicago, there are two categories for public housing: either for the poor or the elderly. ...read more.

Middle

In 1966 a group of tenants filed a lawsuit against the CHA, with allegations that the agency was racially segregating by putting projects in the ghettoes of Chicago. In Gautreaux v. Chicago Housing Authority, a federal judge put a stop to the building of any future public housing projects in black residential areas. In addition, he ordered the CHA to build scattered-site housing elsewhere in the city. Following this court case, the CHA didn't build anymore than a few scattered-site housing developments and almost all of the housing was intended for the elderly, this housing could be built in the white sections of the city. From the time of the Gautreaux decision, family high rises have been the source of many social problems and the buildings continue to deteriorate. In 1996, the federal department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) took control of CHA operations based on mismanagement and poor performance. HUD replaced the housing act altogether after taking over. In its place, the government drew up a wide-ranging housing law that, among other things, established what's become known as the "viability test." \Existing Units Occupied Units Units Remaining Under the Plan for Transformation Occupied Units Gained/Lost CHA Total 38,776 24,490 24,773 283 Senior Housing 9,480 8,044 9,480 1,436 Scattered-site Housing 2,922 2,400 2,686 286 Family Units 29,296 16,446 15,293 -1,153 Existing Redevelopment Projects 9,561 3,659 5,353 1,694 Adams-Brooks-Loomis-Abbot, Frances Cabrini Extension North, Henry Horner Homes, Lakefront Properties, Raymond M. ...read more.

Conclusion

One direct way of sealing this alliance was by approving the CHA Plan for Transformation.14 To this day, the transformation project is behind schedule and is struggling to with funding to keep up the pace outlined in 2000. Mixed-income housing is still a work in progress and it is not yet known whether or not it will be a success. Without a doubt, the biggest problem the transformation will encounter will be the tens of thousands of people stranded with no where to live. In conclusion, the CHA's "Plan for Transformation" looked good on paper in 2000, but in all reality, it is not going to work. The future for thousands of low-income families are as unclear as the CHA's current intentions. Many of the current housing projects should be demolished. But leaving the tenants of those projects stranded and without homes isn't fair. The city of Chicago already has a large homeless population, the displacement of public housing residents will only contribute to that problem. As highlighted in several of the sources I have used, the public housing issue seems to heat up only around election time. In the meantime, there is little focus within city council about what needs to be done to make this plan work. It is now seven years after the plan was accepted by HUD and it has no chance of being completed by its deadline. It is clear; the City Council of Chicago needs to give more attention to the Chicago public housing issue and revise the "Plan for Transformation. ...read more.

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