A Sociolegal History of Public Housing Reform in Chicago
Lisa T. Alexander
University of Wisconsin Law School
Univ. of Wisconsin Law School Working Paper No. 1061
Journal of Affordable Housing, Vol. 17, Nos. 1-2, Fall 2007/Winter 2008
This essay summarizes and compares Alexander Polikoff's Waiting for Gautreaux: A Story of Segregation, Housing, and the Black Ghetto and Mary Pattillo's Black on the Block: The Politics of Race and Class in the City to convey the contributions and limitations of each book. Both works provide a rich sociolegal history of public housing reform in Chicago and illustrate the challenges Chicago has faced in implementing recent HOPE VI public housing reforms. I compare Polikoff's forty-year battle to desegregate public housing in Chicago with Pattillo's insightful observations of class dynamics between the new middle-class African-American power brokers of housing reform and public housing residents. Through this comparison, I seek to show that Polikoff's long-term prescriptions for public housing reform are based upon a conception of the inner city that may no longer be entirely accurate. This comparison also conveys the social complexity inherent in HOPE VI reform efforts, a complexity often overlooked in the prevailing policy and academic debates.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 23
Keywords: Public Housing Reform, Urban Redevelopment, Segregation, HOPE VI, Law and Public Policy. Polikoff, Pattillo, and Sociolegal History
JEL Classification: K-30, D63, J78
Date posted: June 26, 2008
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