Blueprint for Disaster: The Unraveling of Chicago Public Housing

Blueprint for Disaster: The Unraveling of Chicago Public Housing

by D. Bradford Hunt
     
 

ISBN-10: 0226360857

ISBN-13: 9780226360850

Pub. Date: 07/15/2009

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Now considered a dysfunctional mess, Chicago’s public housing projects once had long waiting lists of would-be residents hoping to leave the slums behind. So what went wrong? To answer this complicated question, D. Bradford Hunt traces public housing’s history in Chicago from its New Deal roots through current mayor Richard M. Daley’s Plan for

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Overview

Now considered a dysfunctional mess, Chicago’s public housing projects once had long waiting lists of would-be residents hoping to leave the slums behind. So what went wrong? To answer this complicated question, D. Bradford Hunt traces public housing’s history in Chicago from its New Deal roots through current mayor Richard M. Daley’s Plan for Transformation. In the process, he chronicles the Chicago Housing Authority’s own transformation from the city’s most progressive government agency to its largest slumlord.

            Challenging explanations that attribute the projects’ decline primarily to racial discrimination and real estate interests, Hunt argues that well-intentioned but misguided policy decisions—ranging from design choices to maintenance contracts—also paved the road to failure. Moreover, administrators who fully understood the potential drawbacks did not try to halt such deeply flawed projects as Cabrini-Green and the Robert Taylor Homes. These massive high-rise complexes housed unprecedented numbers of children but relatively few adults, engendering disorder that pushed out the working class and, consequently, the rents needed to maintain the buildings. The resulting combination of fiscal crisis, managerial incompetence, and social unrest plunged the CHA into a quagmire from which it is still struggling to emerge.

           Blueprint for Disaster, then,is an urgent reminder of the havoc poorly conceived policy can wreak on our most vulnerable citizens.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780226360850
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
Publication date:
07/15/2009
Series:
Historical Studies of Urban America Series
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
392
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

Introduction       What Went Wrong with Public Housing in Chicago?

Chapter 1          The 1937 Housing Act Revisited

Chapter 2          Building the Chicago Housing Authority

Chapter 3          Clearing Chicago’s Slums

Chapter 4          The End of Integration and the Taming of the CHA

Chapter 5          Designing High-Rise Disasters

Chapter 6          Planning a Social Disaster

Chapter 7          The Loss of the Working Class

Chapter 8          The Tenants Revolt

Chapter 9          The Gautreaux Case and the Limits of Judicial Activism

Chapter 10        The Long Road to Rebirth

Conclusion        The Unraveling of Public Housing in Chicago

Acknowledgments

A Note on Sources

Notes

Index

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