Chapter

What Went Wrong with Public Housing in Chicago?

in Blueprint for Disaster

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print July 2009 | ISBN: 9780226360850
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226360874 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226360874.003.0001
What Went Wrong with Public Housing in Chicago?

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In the late 1980s, Chicago's largest public housing projects were in disarray. How did a well-intentioned New Deal program designed to clear the nation's urban slums and build decent housing for low-income families become, in a relatively short period of time, a devastating urban policy failure? Put bluntly, what went wrong with Chicago's public housing? Who determined subsidies and why were they inadequate? Did racial segregation cause project decline, or was class separation more important? Why did public housing's tenant base shift from the working class to the deeply impoverished? What caused public housing's social disorder? And how did public officials respond as public housing slid downward? This book argues that contingent and compounding policy choices made by actors at the federal and local levels greatly exacerbated the Chicago Housing Authority's high-rises. In order to understand public housing's demise in Chicago, it removes the arbitrary divide between “public” and “private” housing, and places the output and policies of housing authorities in the context of a local housing market.

Keywords: Chicago; public housing; Chicago Housing Authority; New Deal; low-income families; subsidies; racial segregation; social disorder; housing market; urban policy

Chapter.  4199 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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