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Posts By Susan Popkin
Susan J. Popkin is both Director of The Urban Institute's Program on Neighborhoods and Youth Development and a Senior Fellow in the Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center. A nationally-recognized expert on assisted housing and mobility, Dr. Popkin's research has focused on the impact of the radical changes in housing policy over the past decade on the lives of the most vulnerable public and assisted housing families. This body of research includes the HOPE VI Panel Study, the first large-scale, systematic look at outcomes for families involuntarily relocated from public housing; the "Chicago Family Case Management Demonstration", a unique partnership which is testing the impact and cost-effectiveness of intensive services for the most troubled public housing residents; the "Three City Study of Moving to Opportunity"; and the analysis of housing and mobility outcomes for the ongoing "MTO Final Evaluation". Dr. Popkin is currently developing a new research agenda growing out of her work on public housing that will focus on the ways that neighborhood environments, particularly violence, sexual harassment and pressure for early sexual initiation affect youth transitions to adulthood. Previously, she directed the a series of studies on public housing transformation in Chicago; the only national study of public housing desegregation, and two large-scale studies of the Gautreaux Housing Desegregation program.
Prior to joining the Urban Institute, Dr. Popkin was an Associate at Abt Associates, Inc. Before coming to Abt, she was an Assistant Professor of Community Health Sciences, School of Public Health, and a Senior Research Specialist at the Prevention Research Center, University of Illinois at Chicago. Dr. Popkin holds a PhD in Human Development and Social Policy from Northwestern University.Links: http://www.urban.org/expert.cfm?ID=SusanJPopkin
| Posted: November 21st, 2013
Last month, I had the opportunity to meet Louise Casey, director of the United Kingdom’s Troubled Families Programme. Casey has served in three successive British cabinets and is passionate about finding solutions to the deep problems that have trapped many families in intergenerational poverty. Unusual for a public official, before deciding on an approach, she personally interviewed a number of families to learn about their lives.
Much of what she learned is sadly familiar to those of us in the United States who are working to find solutions for the most vulnerable. Most depressingly, she was struck by how many people she interviewed described experiences with family violence and sexual abuse as a “normal” part of life—something they didn’t like, but also accepted as inevitable.
Sexual violence, joblessness, and psychological distress—these are just some of the problems that the most vulnerable families face, so any intervention with a chance of succeeding would have to intervene on multiple fronts. But if successful, the benefits would be undeniable. Casey estimates that serving these families effectively could save the United Kingdom billions of pounds per year in reduced costs for emergency room care, social services, and child welfare.
UK program echoes US intervention
The program Casey designed echoes the design of the HOST demonstration, with a family intervention worker (case manager) assigned to coordinate targeted support services for individual families. Like HOST, the United Kingdom’s program uses a strengths-based approach, asking families to set their own goals, like better school attendance for their children or stable housing. Casey hopes that this targeted and strategic intervention will finally break the cycle of poverty for these very vulnerable families.
Although the United Kingdom’s program is government-supported and large scale, the similarities to HOST—and to other service models targeting “frequent fliers” who drive up health care and social service costs—are striking. HOST targets the most vulnerable public housing families with intensive, two-generation service models with the goal of stabilizing both individual families and the larger community. Our new series of policy briefs highlights the complex challenges that keep these families stuck in poverty, including serious physical and mental health problems among adults and children, weak work histories, and low levels of educational attainment. Housing assistance has not protected them from other forms of hardship, and even those who are working report high levels of food insecurity.
The communities they live in can compound the family vulnerabilities. It is no surprise that Casey notes that many of the families her program serves live in social housing; as in the United States, many of these communities house large numbers of extremely poor households and have high levels of community and family violence. In Chicago’s Altgeld Gardens, one of the two HOST sites profiled in our briefs, even residents who truly want to make their community a safer place for kids distrust and fear their neighbors so much that they are unable to act. The other HOST site, in Portland, is mixed-income. Residents there report higher levels of community cohesion and trust, and from our observations, seem more likely to come together to protect children and their community.
Louise Casey is gambling that the investment the UK government is making in its most troubled families will pay off in better outcomes for kids and lower costs to taxpayers. Her team is evaluating the program and tracking costs and will have early results in 2014. Although HOST is much smaller, we and our partner housing authorities and service providers are hoping that it, like its predecessor the Chicago Family Case Management Demonstration, will show enough positive results for children and families to encourage other housing authorities to take on the challenge of addressing the needs of their most troubled residents.
Filed under: Government |Tags: family, HOST, poverty, services, support, Urban Institute Add a Comment »
| Posted: October 14th, 2013
I am an asthma mom—both of my kids developed asthma when they were babies, so the challenges of asthma management have been part of my life for more than 20 years. My daughter, now 16, has severe asthma—the kind that can land kids in hospitals if it is not well-controlled; my son was also severely ill when he was an adolescent.
Managing asthma effectively requires following daily medication regimes and paying attention to a host of environmental triggers. I am intimately familiar with inhalers, nebulizers, nasal sprays, the various pills, and the side effects of steroids and albuterol—not to mention juggling work, sick children, and frequent doctor’s appointments.
But one thing I have never experienced is a terrifying trip to the ER with a child who is barely breathing, something that poor families in D.C. and other cities experience all too often. As the article in yesterday’s Washington Post makes clear, poverty is the main reason that poor children end up hospitalized for asthma.
The Post piece grew out of a project we are collaborating on with Children’s National Medical Center’s (CNMC) Asthma Clinic, a unique effort to provide education and support to every family that comes to the ER because of asthma. Through this program, IMPACT DC asthma educators work with families to teach them about asthma, how to take medication, and what they need to do to help their child stay healthy.
But even this state-of-the-art program does not always work to keep kids out of the ER. As the article states, a major reason is poverty. Language and literacy problems mean that low-income patients require more time and ongoing support than the well-educated and affluent (like me), but the inequalities of the medical system mean that they usually get less time and less access to specialists.
Most of the asthma specialists like the ones my kids see are located in either Northwest D.C. or the suburbs, not in the communities east of the Anacostia River where most of the poor, mostly African-American children who come to CNMC’s ER live. While D.C. provides health insurance for nearly all children, not all providers accept Medicaid or State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). The community providers who see poor children do not have the time it takes to really educate their patients about asthma or to ensure they truly understand how and when to take their medications. Finally, poor children are more likely to be exposed to the environmental triggers that can exacerbate asthma—caregivers who smoke and apartments that have problems with mold, roaches, and mice.
The persistence of unequal outcomes for poor, minority children with asthma is an ongoing frustration for pediatricians. As Dr. Stephen Teach, the director of IMPACT DC put it, it is an issue of “health equity.”
Doctors have known for years how to manage asthma and keep kids out of the ER—my kids are living proof. But even with all of this knowledge and cutting-edge programs, the system continues to fail poor children. Policymakers should care about asthma—mostly because of the burden this most common of childhood chronic diseases imposes on families, but also because all those trips to the ER continue to drive up medical costs for all of us.
Illustration by Daniel Wolfe/The Urban Institute.
Filed under: Quality of Life |Tags: asthma, asthma DC, children's national medical center, DC, health, impact dc, poverty, poverty and asthma, sue popkin, Urban Institute 1 Comment »
| Posted: September 4th, 2013
I’ve written before about the HOST Demonstration, which is testing strategies for delivering intensive services to adults and children in public and mixed-income communities in four cities.
In Benning Terrace, our Washington, D.C. site, we are working with the community to develop a unique set of services for youth to address the critical problems of sexual health and safety that threaten children’s life chances—high rates of teen pregnancy, HIV and other sexually-transmitted infections, intimate partner violence, and older men who pressure girls to engage in “transactional sex.”
To address these sensitive issues, we are working actively with an advisory board made up of community residents, all of whom agree that these are big problems for their community. But they are teaching us that there is an even more basic issue we need to address first—these children and youth are hungry.
The community we’re working in is 10 minutes from the Capitol, not far from the booming neighborhoods that are attracting thousands of educated young people to D.C. It is hard to imagine that there are hungry and desperate children living so close to all of this affluence. Although it is not news that D.C. has a lot of poor communities, I think most of us assume programs like food stamps (SNAP) and free school lunches have taken care of the worst problems. But we know from our research in Chicago and other cities that substantial proportions of residents in public and assisted housing report problems affording enough food for their families and that they sometimes make painful trade-offs between buying food and paying their rent and utilities.
A report from Feeding America says that Washington, D.C. has a child food insecurity rate of 30 percent—the second-highest in the nation. Sometimes kids go hungry because of parental neglect, but more often it is because the money simply runs out before the end of the month, leaving the family struggling to make ends meet.
The lack of affordable and healthy options adds to the problems for families trying to feed large numbers of kids on a minimal budget. In too many poor D.C. communities, the “ice cream truck”— basically a convenience store on wheels—is the only source of groceries, charging high prices for low-quality food.
The shocking reality is that for kids in communities like Benning, hunger may push them into risky behavior—trading sexual favors for money or food. The threat is very real—we have heard stories from people who work in the community about older men pressuring girls for sex in exchange for money to buy things from the “ice cream truck.”
If we truly want to help these children to succeed in school and have better life chances, we are going to first have to ensure that their basic needs are being met.
Photo of Capital Building at night from Shutterstock
Filed under: Economy, People |Tags: Benning terrace, Capitol, child poverty, HOST, hunger, poverty, Urban Institute 1 Comment »
| Posted: August 19th, 2013
Fifty years after the March on Washington, we are still dealing with the legacy of the federal government’s decision to permit local housing authorities to build huge public housing developments in poor, black communities.
As my colleagues and I discussed in our 2008 book, Public Housing and the Legacy of Segregation, the consequences of this decision were disastrous for both residents and communities. Instead of offering poor, African-American families decent housing and new opportunities, public housing helped reinforce patterns of concentrated poverty and racial segregation.
The original motivation for building this housing was to alleviate poverty—to clear slums and provide decent, affordable places to live. Much of this housing was intended for the many African-American families who had made their way north as part of the Great Migration and were now crowded in tenements that lacked basic facilities—running water, flush toilets, and reliable heat.
Initially, it seemed like these new developments might live up to their promise. In St. Louis and Chicago, the opening of high-rise developments like Pruitt-Igoe and Robert Taylor Homes were greeted with great fanfare, touting the modern, clean apartments.
But these developments were built in already poor, racially segregated communities. Chicago and Washington, D.C. constructed new highways and train lines that cut residents off from the rest of the city. These “modern” high-rises quickly became national symbols of the failures of the War on Poverty, suffering all the ills of chronic poverty and disadvantage: female-headed households, high rates of unemployment, low levels of education, shocking levels of physical and mental illness, and most of all, overwhelming drug trafficking and violent crime. After just 15 years, the St. Louis Housing Authority declared its showplace Pruitt-Igoe uninhabitable; film of the 1975 demolition of the homes made the national news.
Many factors contributed to the failures of public housing in the United States.
- Poor design and construction coupled with ineffective management meant that the buildings quickly deteriorated.
- The large numbers of multi-bedroom units meant that the properties were dominated by big families, creating an “unnatural” adult-child ratio that contributed to vandalism and disorder.
- The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) failed to provide adequate funding for operations, prompting housing authorities to hike tenant rents, driving out those who could afford better options.
- The Brooke Amendment, passed in 1969, capped rents at 30 percent of tenants’ income and provided operating funds, but made public housing less attractive for working families with higher incomes.
- The Reagan administration, under pressure to do something about the rise in homelessness, gave homeless families and individuals priority for public housing.
- As conditions deteriorated, families who could afford better options fled, leaving behind a population increasingly dominated by the poorest and most vulnerable families.
The transformation of public housing that began in the 1990s with the HOPE VI program has led to the demolition of much of the worst housing. New mixed-income developments constructed with today’s best design principles have replaced dilapidated properties in many cities. And the Section 8 voucher program has offered poor families the opportunity to find housing in the private market, sometimes even providing assistance with finding housing in areas that should offer greater opportunity—better schools, parks, and access to jobs.
But, while these efforts mean that many residents are now living in better housing in safer neighborhoods and have a better quality of life, even the most ambitious efforts have done little to help lift these families out of poverty. As we concluded in our book, until we as a nation are willing to have an honest conversation about the legacy of racial segregation in public housing, these families are likely to continue to be left behind.
Public housing photo from Shutterstock
Filed under: Built Environment, People |Tags: March on Washington, MLK, public housing, segregation, Urban Institute 2 Comments »
| Posted: July 25th, 2013
The conventional wisdom seems to be that the sequester—the across-the-board budget cuts that were supposed to be such a terrible threat that they would force Congress into a budget compromise—hasn’t been as bad as predicted. For most Americans, the most noticeable effects have been the furloughing of air traffic controllers—quickly reversed after a public outcry—and the cutbacks in national park rangers and services. (It’s true that thousands federal workers are being furloughed, but either they are not complaining or the media is not paying attention.)
So, no big deal, maybe the doomsday predictions were just media hype? I would argue that, in fact, the sequester is a very big deal and is having disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable Americans.
Many programs and services that benefit middle-income households were exempted from the budget cuts, which means other discretionary programs have to absorb the rest. The plight of public housing authorities—which serve some of the poorest households in the nation—highlights how the sequester is harming low-income households.
For example, because of budget shortfalls, two of the housing authorities that participate in the Urban Institute’s HOST demonstration announced plans for major cuts in services and programs. In New York, the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) is facing a $200 million budget shortfall, will be laying off as many as 500 employees, freezing its Section 8 voucher program, and closing more than 100 community centers in its developments. Home Forward, the housing authority of Portland, will be raising rents for tenants, cutting staff salaries, and freezing its waiting list for Section 8 vouchers.
These cuts are particularly painful because they come on the heels of years of budget cuts that have already shrunk the supply of vouchers and forced housing authorities across the nation to close their waiting lists. At the same time, the need for affordable housing continues to rise, leaving too many vulnerable families unable to afford adequate housing. Some of these families may fall into homelessness, and their escalating needs could ultimately cost taxpayers far more than providing a housing subsidy.
Policy analysts and the media need to take a clear-eyed look at the true impact of the sequester and urge policymakers to make the fiscally responsible decisions necessary to put our budget on sound footing without balancing it on the backs of the poorest Americans.
Public housing photo from Shutterstock
Filed under: Economy, Government |Tags: HOST, poverty, public housing, sequester, Urban Institute 2 Comments »
| Posted: June 17th, 2013
The HOST Demonstration is a place-based initiative testing an innovative approach to coordinating services for vulnerable youth and adults who live in public and assisted housing in four cities.
The things that make HOST exciting as a service initiative—being place-based and testing a range of whole family service approaches also make designing a credible and rigorous evaluation challenging. HOST does not fit the model of many evidence-based social service interventions; it is not a standardized program or curriculum that specially trained providers deliver. Rather, as our most recent blog post describes, it is a really a research and development (R&D) project, intended to fit the needs and dynamics of the specific residents who live in the four participating communities.
For HOST, the Urban Institute team provides a standard framework of for resources, activities, and desired outcomes as well as a set of mandatory components: intensive case management, low caseloads, employment and clinical services for adults, and innovative approaches for reaching children and youth. Beyond that, each of the four sites designs its own service model and uses its own approaches for outreach, programming, and youth interventions. The Chicago site is using a rewards model to encourage youth and parents to set goals and recognize achievements. The Portland site is developing culturally specific approaches for support groups and youth activities that will appeal to a largely immigrant population. And in D.C., which has extremely high rates of HIV and teen pregnancy, the youth programming focuses on sexual health and safety.
A “gold standard” randomized control trial evaluation is not appropriate—or even possible—for a complex, community-based program like HOST that is intentionally trying to develop creative new approaches. A better model for HOST—and for other comprehensive community initiatives—is an R&D, a rigorous implementation and outcome study that maximizes what we can learn from these promising and creative interventions.
For HOST, we collect administrative data from the sites, conduct quarterly site visits, and hold bi-weekly calls to monitor program activities and provide regular feedback. We also conduct focus groups with residents and twice-yearly interviews with program administrators and staff and are conducting a long-term outcome study with survey and administrative data.
The feedback from the research team has allowed the sites to continuously improve and refine their service models—and, we hope, ensure that they are delivering the most effective interventions possible. Some of the changes that have come about because of the research-practice partnership are improvements in coordination between service teams working with youth and those working with adults; lowered caseload ratios; adding more clinical staff; and innovations in youth outreach and engagement so that the programs can work effectively with children ranging in age from elementary to high school. Focus groups suggested that families in Portland needed more targeted youth programming; findings from the baseline survey highlighted the need for lower caseloads and more mental health services. Staff interviews in both sites showed that lower caseloads meant more strain on staff who had the time to uncover deep problems and indicated that staff required more emotional support.
While our research strategy may not be the Cadillac model of evaluation, we like to think of it as the innovative new hybrid car on the market that everyone has been waiting for – something that might change the field of social science research and make it more relevant for policy and practice.
Filed under: People |Tags: HOST, housing opportunities and services together, poverty, Urban Institute 1 Comment »
| Posted: May 29th, 2013
More than one in five children in the United States is growing up in poverty—a number that should alarm us. Even more alarming is that more and more of these children are living in neighborhoods of concentrated poverty and disadvantage, exposing them to serious risks that may trap them in lifelong poverty.
The health consequences of living in poverty are well-documented. We know that poverty places children at risk for a range of serious ailments, starting with premature birth and low birth weight and chronic conditions like asthma, obesity, diabetes, and mental illness.
Growing up in neighborhoods with concentrated poverty and disadvantage compounds the risk. Children in these communities are exposed to chronic violence and disorder, leading to trauma and serious health and behavioral consequences that undermine their life chances. Researchers studying the effects of toxic stress on developing brains have shown stress creates developmental delays with lifelong consequences. These children face a high likelihood of academic failure, risky and delinquent behavior, and early sexual initiation, which brings the potential for teen parenthood and infection with HIV or other STIs. The costs to individual children and families—and to society—are profound.
Would treating childhood poverty as a disease finally generate the policy action needed to address this serious and growing problem? Author and pediatrician Perri Klass argues that we need this kind of comprehensive effort to start reversing the worrying trends that are undermining the health of America’s children. She advocates for an approach like the successful effort in the United Kingdom that has reduced child poverty by more than half over the past decade.
Rallying support for bold policy action to stem the epidemic of child poverty will take time, especially in the current political climate. In the meantime, we need effective interventions that can alleviate the symptoms of the “disease.”
The Urban Institute’s HOST Demonstration is developing and testing the effectiveness of using two-generation “whole family” approaches to address the challenges of deeply poor, vulnerable families living in public and assisted housing. HOST services are intended to improve children’s health outcomes and reduce risky behavior, helping to overcome some of the disadvantages of growing up in chronic disadvantage.
But clearly, even the best interventions will not be enough to eliminate child poverty in the United States. I hope that Dr. Klass and her fellow pediatricians will take the lead in advocating for policy to treat child poverty-- an epidemic disease with serious social costs that requires a serious and effective public health response.
Basketball court photo from Shutterstock http://www.shutterstock.com/cat.mhtml?lang=en&search_source=search_form&search_tracking_id=D...
Filed under: People |Tags: children, chronic poverty, HOST, kids, poverty, Urban Institute 1 Comment »
| Posted: April 10th, 2013
A recent American Prospect article, “The Making of the Other Chicago” seriously mischaracterized the outcomes of my extensive research on Chicago public housing and has numerous serious factual errors, leading to a conclusion that bears little resemblance to my findings.
My latest report, released March 11, finds that Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) residents are, in fact, better off overall as a result of the agency’s Plan for Transformation that began in 1999:
- Most residents now live in decent housing in neighborhoods where they feel substantially safer.
- Those living in the CHA’s rehabilitated developments report better conditions than those who are renting private-market units with vouchers—a finding that speaks to the CHA’s investment and to the variability of its very large voucher program (which now serves 36,900 households).
- Residents who received intensive counseling services as well as new housing have significantly improved their mental and physical health and their employment status.
But there are reasons for concern:
- Although their parents are doing better, CHA children and youth continue to struggle.
- Voucher holders report trouble managing utility costs, which they didn’t have to budget for when they lived in public housing.
- While residents’ new neighborhoods are better than the old CHA developments, most are still racially segregated and poor.
Still, on balance, my research colleagues and I conclude that CHA residents are far more than “marginally better off” than they were before 1999. The American Prospect article implies the opposite and uses misleading statements to claim that we support this conclusion. Specifically:
- The article states that, “when public housing projects started coming down in 2000, more than 25,000 families were given vouchers to find housing in the private market.” In reality, just over 4,100 households have moved with vouchers since 1999. The full breakdown of where the residents have gone is in the CHA’s April 2011 “Update on the Plan for Transformation Relocation”.
- The article uses the following quote from our reports to argue that residents moved to neighborhoods that were just as bad as the CHA’s high-rises: “Sixty percent of the participants reported problems in their neighborhoods with gangs, 50 percent cited shootings and violence, and 78 percent reported drug-dealing.” These numbers are the perceptions of study participants in 2007—before they moved. When we interviewed them after they moved, in 2011, they reported living in dramatically safer neighborhoods, with less physical disorder (trash in streets, graffiti, and vacant apartments or houses) than their original neighborhoods. About a quarter of our respondents indicate that “groups just hanging out, people selling and using drugs, and shootings and violence are still big problems.”
- The article claims that, “Rather than reduce the violence, the tear-down of public housing redistributed it.” Our report on the impact of resident relocation on crime in Chicago and Atlanta reaches a very different conclusion. Chicago’s transformation efforts led to substantial decreases in crime in neighborhoodswhere public housing was demolished and to a small but significant citywide decrease in violent crime. The transformation did contribute, however, to slightly higher property crime overall in Chicago, and some neighborhoods in both cities have experienced problems with violent crime associated with concentrations of relocated households.
It is true, as the article states, that voucher holders renting private-market units “live in communities where about 41 percent of the residents have incomes below the poverty level and 87 percent are African American.” As noted earlier, this issue one reason that, despite the generally positive results, my colleagues and I remain concerned about the long-term success of the Plan for Transformation in improving residents’ lives. Nevertheless, most former CHA residents are better off, and using our research to conclude otherwise is misleading.
Chicago Housing Authority's Old Ida B. Wells Homes and new Oakwood Shores Mixed Income Development. Photo by Flicker user Zo187 used under Creative Common license (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
Filed under: Quality of Life |Tags: American Prospect, CHA, Chicago Public Housing, MetroTrends, research, Urban Institute Add a Comment »
| Posted: March 13th, 2013
Note: This is the third in a series of blog posts from Sue Popkin on her long history working with the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) and the results of a ten-year study on the experiences of CHA families as they were relocated and their buildings were demolished and replaced with new, mixed-income housing.
Chicago Housing Authority's Old Ida B. Wells Homes and new Oakwood Shores Mixed Income Development. Photo by Flicker user Zo187 used under Creative Common license (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
As noted in my previous posts, I first came to the Chicago Housing Authority in the mid-1980s as a graduate student working on my dissertation. I went in and out of CHA developments during that first spring, each time more convinced that these communities were so troubled that they were undermining the life chances of their residents.
Getting Away from the Shootings and Violence
When I finished my PhD, I had the opportunity to become the research director for several studies examining the Gautreaux housing desegregation program, which provided vouchers for current and former CHA residents to move to areas that were less than 30 percent African American. In practice, that meant most moved to the suburbs around Chicago, while a smaller number were allowed to use their vouchers in “revitalizing areas” of the city.
The study is famous for its findings that suburban movers ended up more likely to be employed and their children seemed to do better in school. But what struck me was the fact that the women we spoke to—some of whom had left CHA more than 10 years earlier—still talked about how glad they were to feel safe, to get away from the shootings and violence that had taken over CHA’s communities.
In the late 1980s, the CHA began an intensive anti-crime effort. The most controversial component was what the agency called “the sweeps,” where CHA police and staff would literally shut down a building, go door to door checking for weapons, drugs, and illegal residents, install steel security doors and guard booths, and issue every resident an ID.
In 1992, I responded to a request from the CHA to evaluate their anti-drug initiative. That small project evolved into a seven-year study that tracked residents’ responses to the agency’s efforts to control crime and gang violence.
We watched as the CHA spent nearly $500 million on state-of-the art anti-crime initiatives that ultimately proved futile as the chaos and violence overwhelmed the combined efforts of police, security guards, and resident activists. By 1998, one of the most effective resident leaders we’d come to know told us that she was so distressed by the violence overtaking her development that she was chain smoking and had to take medication to “calm her nerves.”
Address Chronic Violence through Redevelopment
Toward the end of our research, the CHA began its first major demolition and revitalization efforts in the Henry Horner Homes—one of the three developments we’d been tracking. While residents were distressed about losing their community, for the first time, they saw real and sustained reductions in crime and disorder
We concluded that, sadly, the only way to address the chronic violence and chaos was to demolish the large developments and replace them with new housing. But we also wondered if the residents who had endured the worst days of CHA would really end up better off. It seemed unlikely they would meet the criteria for new, mixed-income housing, and there was a real possibility that this new effort would just be one more blow for these already-vulnerable families.
But the study we released this week shows that many of those fears were unfounded. Instead, residents are now far better off than they were.
Some of our findings:
- The majority of residents now live in decent housing in neighborhoods where they feel substantially safer.
- Those who live in the CHA’s remaining rehabilitated developments report better conditions than those who are renting private-market units with vouchers—a finding that speaks to the CHA’s investment and to the variability of its now very large (more than 36,000 unit) voucher program.
- Most exciting is that Demonstration participants’ mental and physical health has improved significantly and their employment gains have held.
But along with this good news are reasons for concern:
- Though their parents are doing better, children and youth continue to struggle.
- Voucher holders report trouble managing utility costs.
While residents’ new neighborhoods are better than the old CHA developments, most are still racially segregated and poor.
Filed under: Built Environment, Government, People |Tags: HOST Add a Comment »