Chapter

The Long Road to Rebirth

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/9780226360874.003.0011
The Long Road to Rebirth

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By the early 1980s the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA), in a deep irony, had become a slumlord, with tenants at its large-scale projects enduring hostile surroundings. Inoperable elevators, erratic heat, leaky roofs, uncollected garbage, infested apartments, darkened hallways, and unrepaired playground equipment were norms, not aberrations. Maintenance and security failures had reached devastating levels that affected the physical and mental health of residents, many of whom were trapped in worlds of addiction, violence, and hopelessness. What to do about this situation bedeviled policymakers and public housing residents alike throughout the 1980s and early 1990s. Ideas on how to “clean up” CHA projects emerged from several directions, though exactly what this process should entail was contested. Underlying any proposal was the understanding that public housing faced three interrelated problems with no easy answer: management capacity, the vast extent of deferred maintenance, and security and policing. As the CHA's management woes persisted, public housing residents took matters into their own hands and created “resident management corporations” at several projects.

Keywords: Chicago Housing Authority; public housing; Chicago; tenants; management; maintenance; security; resident management corporations

Chapter.  10409 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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