CHA reports on families displaced by the Plan for Transformation

After the recent removal of the final public housing high-rise residents in Chicago, the Chicago Housing Authority released figures Wednesday about what has happened to the displaced high-rise residents:

In the 12 years since the CHA began its Plan for Transformation, an ambitious effort to overhaul public housing, the number of families receiving CHA housing subsidies has been cut in half, with only 56 percent — or 9,388 households, excluding senior citizens — in the system, according to a study prepared by the CHA.

Only 60 of those families have rented or purchased homes in the suburbs, a finding that challenges long-held beliefs that crime had followed former residents from the high-rises into their communities…

The CHA, however, acknowledged that it has lost track of 2,202 families that once lived in CHA housing, and another 1,307 households found housing without CHA assistance.

Former residents now live in 71 of Chicago’s 77 neighborhoods, according to the report. However, the majority of them moved to neighborhoods such as Englewood, Woodlawn, Auburn Gresham, Roseland and Greater Grand Crossing, communities that already were burdened with high crime and poverty. Others moved into working-class African-American communities such as Chatham and South Shore, saturating formerly stable neighborhoods of single-family homes with renters.

Overall, this article seems to shy away from asking this question: has the removal of these high-rises led to better lives for their former residents or improved conditions for poorer neighborhoods in the city? This article doesn’t offer much positive evidence: very few have moved to the suburbs, the CHA has lost track of some families while others have dropped out of the system, and former high-rise residents encounter stereotypes when moving to new neighborhoods. The high-rises may be gone but the deeper issues are still present.

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