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Chicago CHA History By 1950 public housing projects had risen in cities across the country Their advocates in the National Housing Conference declared these projects a success asserting that they had given low-income families their first opportunity to live in a decent healthy environment And the benefits they claimed extended to cities as a whole By improving the social ills bred by slums public housing had saved taxpayers vast costs for police fire health and crime protection Architecture racism and even good intentions have conspired to create a poverty trap in Chicagos housing projects As elsewhere public housing was first designed in the 1930s as transitional housing for the working poor often with stiff eligibility requirements that screened out the neediest Chicagos special problems were born in the 1950s when local politicians including the mayor Richard J Daley began to use public housing to segregate the citys rapidly growing black population The result was hulking high-rises in poor black neighbourhoods the worst of which was an uninterrupted four-mile stretch of public housing on the citys south side The Robert Taylor Homes were more than two dozen 16-storey buildings identical except for the color of their brick and the way they face The result was the biggest concentration of poverty in America Land Values The problems with public housing go far beyond the physical dilapidation of many housing projects First public housing has come to be dominated by as well as to encourage the formation of low-income single-parent households with all the social problems that such families bring At the same time because the land on which public housing stands is designated for a single unchanging purpose it creates what could be called a frozen city a poorhouse that stands in the way of the regeneration of cities Far from benefiting cities as a whole public housing projects preclude new uses of land and capital that could serve the larger population including those in
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