Learning from Israel: The Daley-Emanuel Plan for Chicago Population Transfers
July 02, 2016, 07:19 AM
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Red is good, green is bad. In Chicago under mayors Richard M. Daley and Rahm Emanuel, the desirable neighborhoods (e.g. the North Side and downtown) got better, the less desirable neighborhoods (the South Side and the West Side — Austin, for example, is under the “T” in “River Forest”) got worse due to transfers of public housing residents.

I’ve often pointed out how Americans could learn a lot from studying the policies of Israel. But most Americans aren’t very adept at noticing what Israel does, so the Israeli connection to recent Chicago history has gone almost wholly unremarked.

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

The CHA’s great upheaval — a Sun-Times/BGA special report

CHICAGO 06/25/2016, 11:59pm

Mick Dumke, Brett Chase, Tim Novak and Chris Fusco

In 1999, Mayor Richard M. Daley boldly promised to transform public housing in Chicago — in part by tearing down the high-rise housing projects that lined the city’s expressways and surrounded the Loop.

Today, nearly every Chicago neighborhood — and almost every suburb — has felt the impact of the Chicago Housing Authority’s “Plan for Transformation,” a Chicago Sun-Times and Better Government Association analysis has found.

In the city, areas surrounding the Loop still have hundreds of subsidized-housing tenants, but demolition of high-rise projects like Cabrini-Green has cleared the way for rapid gentrification by wealthy whites and businesses.

South Shore is the new subsidized-housing capital of Chicago.

Of 245 suburbs in the six-county metropolitan area, 193 — almost four of five — have seen an increase in the number of subsidized-housing households. As in the city, the overwhelming majority of those families are living in apartments, townhouses or single-family homes they rent with the aid of government subsidies known as Section 8 vouchers.

“This has been a game-changer in different ways for neighborhoods,” says Andrew Greenlee, an assistant professor of urban and regional planning at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “The plan was not only about transforming public housing but also fundamentally changing the neighborhoods across the entire city of Chicago.”

While the Plan for Transformation aimed to break up heavy pockets of poverty created by expansive public housing projects, “in some ways, [it] reinforced historical divisions,” Greenlee says, displacing families and continuing racial and class segregation.

“What we have here is a story of noble intentions but also unintended consequences.”

Clearly, these population transfers of poor blacks out of higher potential neighborhoods were wholly unintended.
At the time the Plan for Transformation was presented, concentrated poverty, high crime, decrepit building conditions and a long history of mismanagement had turned many of the CHA’s developments into what officials acknowledged was “some of the worst housing in America.”

For massive housing projects such as Cabrini-Green on the Near North Side and the Robert Taylor Homes along South State Street, federal and city officials — including Rahm Emanuel, then the vice chairman of the CHA board — decided the solution was demolition.

But surely Rahm Emanuel, who had been Senior Adviser to President Clinton from 1993-1998, wasn’t much of an influence on Chicago Housing Authority policy in 1999? After all, he was a mere Vice-Chairman when the decision to tear down Chicago’s housing projects was announced, and he’d only been “senior advisor and chief fundraiser for Richard M. Daley’s successful initial campaign for Mayor of Chicago in 1989,” so he probably didn’t have much clout.

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… Some of the former city-dwellers appear to have ended up in the suburbs, which census data show gained 105,500 black residents between 2000 and 2014 — a 22 percent increase — while Chicago’s black population dropped by more than 200,500 people — roughly 19 percent.

That doesn’t surprise DePaul University sociologist William Sampson, who says he thinks the Daley administration and the CHA always intended to displace African-Americans.

And of course many Chicago housing project residents wound up well outside greater Chicago. For example, the Obama Administration is currently persecuting Dubuque, Iowa for not wholly acquiescing in the Daley-Emanuel Plan for Chicago.

As I wrote in 2011 in a review of Bruce Norris’s Pulitzer-winning play Clybourne Park:

I tried the Clybourn shortcut to the Loop one Sunday afternoon in 1983 but found my progress blocked in the middle of the Cabrini-Green housing project by hundreds of black people excitedly milling about and watching a car burn. …

The last Cabrini high-rise was finally demolished this March, the denizens dispatched to the hinterlands clutching Section 8 vouchers. The spot on Clybourn where the car burned is now home to Chicago Fly Fishing Outfitters, serving locals who own second homes in Aspen.

But where would the vice chairman of the CHA board (and future White House chief of staff and mayor of Chicago) ever hear about the utility of population transfers of undesired ethnic elements? I mean, besides at the Emanuel family dinner table while his father Benjamin reminisced about his good old days with Menachem Begin in Irgun in 1940s Palestine?

The problem for Mayor Emanuel, however, is that his system for deporting poor blacks from the nice parts of town and concentrating them in the bad parts has set off a sort of directionless intifada on the South and West Sides as old-timers and newcomers shoot each other to see who is boss.

[Comment at Unz.com]