A Sociolegal History of Public Housing Reform in Chicago
Univ. of Wisconsin Law School Working Paper No. 1061
Journal of Affordable Housing, Vol. 17, Nos. 1-2, Fall 2007/Winter 2008
23 Pages Posted: 26 Jun 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.
Keywords: Public Housing Reform, Urban Redevelopment, Segregation, HOPE VI, Law and Public Policy. Polikoff, Pattillo, and Sociolegal History
JEL Classification: K-30, D63, J78
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation