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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  

Lisa T. Alexander

Texas A&M University School of Law

Abstract

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

Alexander, Lisa T., 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 . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1151801

Lisa Alexander (Contact Author)

Texas A&M University School of Law ( email )

1515 Commerce St.
Fort Worth, TX 76102
United States

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