Changing Disadvantage: Creating Space for Chicago's Third Ghetto?

Friday, July 18, 2014: 9:00 AM
Room: 315
Oral Presentation
Andrew GREENLEE , Department of Urban and Regional Planning, Univ Illinois, Urbana Champaign, Champaign, IL
Chicago has long served as a national policy lab, particularly in regards to urban housing policy. The city’s public housing policy over the past 20 years has been particularly intertwined with arguments for national program reforms and devolution. As public housing policy in the United States continues to devolve amidst fiscal austerity and market-driven public private partnerships, the spaces of housing need and assistance have also shifted. Parallel to national linkages with public housing policy, Chicago has long served as an important driver of scholarly work regarding the geography and structure of metropolitan opportunity. As the Chicago Housing Authority’s “Plan for Transformation” approaches 14 years of implementation, what impact have its policies of transformation had on shifting structural dimensions of disadvantage in Chicago neighborhoods?

This paper links existing theories of metropolitan opportunity structure with an analysis of the historical shift in spaces of advantage and disadvantage for public housing residents. Using the Chicago Housing Authority’s Plan for Transformation as an important inflection point in local housing policy, this paper examines shifts in spaces of advantage and disadvantage for public housing residents in relation to broader shifts in these spaces for unassisted households. This paper contends that while the Plan for Transformation espoused values of racial and economic integration, and the revalorization and stabilization of historical sites of housing assistance via income mixing, that its end effect has largely been one of further disintegration, displacement, and a retrenchment of structural disadvantage for broader swaths of Chicago neighborhoods. By examining the impacts of public housing transformation on the spatial dimensions of structural disadvantage, this paper contributes to a broader understanding of the intersection between policies of housing assistance and the structure of metropolitan opportunity.