Gee, I'm so surprised. No, really, just terribly terribly shocked. Don't I look shocked?
Apartments affordable to families using subsidized vouchers exist in nearly every Chicago neighborhood and suburb, yet those families are heavily concentrated in poor, racially segregated areas, according to a first-of-its-kind study being released today. Discrimination and bureaucratic problems are largely to blame, the report says.
In 68 of Chicago's 77 neighborhoods, more than 50 percent of the two-bedroom or larger apartments should have been affordable to families with a Housing Choice Voucher, the study found, based on 2000 data. [...] 64 percent of the 56,000 voucher holders in the six-county region live in areas where more than 10 percent of residents are poor, 2003 data indicate. More than 75 percent of the black families using vouchers live in areas that are more than 30 percent black. The pattern includes families relocating out of demolished Chicago Housing Authority buildings.
"The economics don't explain this trend away," said John Lukehart of the Leadership Council on Metropolitan Open Communities. His group and others in the Chicago Area Fair Housing Alliance commissioned the study, with analysis by University of Illinois at Chicago researchers.
Lukehart knows some families choose to live in segregated areas but says other factors are at play.
The report blames discrimination, a lack of affordable housing in areas with high job growth, and housing authorities for failing to help more families find apartments in better-off neighborhoods. It also says slow apartment inspections and other administrative problems deter landlords.
The plain fact is, justified or not (and, mostly, it's not), people coming out of public housing have the sort of reputation that make landlords reluctant to rent to them.
THAT said, it's also not surprising that many choose to live in what seem to be segregated areas. How many people want to go live in neighborhoods where they absolutely know that the people don't want them there? It's not easy, it's not comfortable, and most people don't want the aggravation. And, as noted, the bureaucracy moves with the speed of a wounded turtle through molasses when it comes to giving people the money it owes them; given any experience with the system, what sane landlord would want to repeat it?
And all this, of course, is on top of the fact that the plans the city made to deal with people coming from the demolished public housing units were simply grossly inadequate.Posted by iain at September 13, 2004 05:46 PM