In discussing this Chicago Reader piece at Curbed Chicago it was considered satire. It does look like satire in fact and certainly unlike anything ever proposed in this city before. The writer of this piece Steve Boigra is a genius for this one!
The aides said the mayor had considered several other approaches for combating segregation. The boldest plan called for Emanuel to challenge segregation personally by moving to a poor black neighborhood.
City housing officials had chosen a vacant, foreclosed, three-bedroom home in Englewood, near the Halsted stop on the Green Line, for the mayor's consideration. Englewood is 99 percent black, 45 percent of its residents are living in poverty, and 26 percent are in extreme poverty—they're living on incomes below half of the poverty line. The neighborhood's per capita income between 2006 and 2010 was about $12,000. Twenty-nine percent of its residents age 25 and older did not have a high school diploma, and 21 percent were unemployed.
The mayor lives in the western edge of Lake View, a predominantly white neighborhood whose per capita income, $58,000, is fifth in the city and almost five times Englewood's. Less than 3 percent of its residents age 25 and older lacked a high school diploma, and less than 5 percent were unemployed.
The annual homicide rate in Englewood, adjusted for age, was 47.5 per 100,000 residents. In Lake View, it was 2.2.
The mayor's aides said he initially liked the Englewood idea because of the publicity potential. They said he voiced his willingness to live there "as long as it takes—a week, ten days." But he balked at the suggestion that he also pull his three children out of the University of Chicago Lab School and send them to the local public school, Bass elementary, at 66th and Racine. Bass's enrollment is 99 percent black and 97 percent low income, and the school is on probation for its poor academic performance. The mayor said he was confident his children would get a "first-rate" education at Bass, now that the school day is longer. But he didn't want to disrupt their Lab School friendships.
The Englewood plan ultimately was dropped because it was too reminiscent of Mayor Jane Byrne's move into the Cabrini-Green housing project in 1981. Mayor Byrne had left her high-rise condo near the Magnificent Mile for Cabrini because she was disturbed by the project's rampant crime. She'd promised to stay in the project "as long as it takes to clean it up.'' Police saturated Cabrini while she was there, and the project turned peaceful. But she returned to her condo a month later, the violence resumed, and her move was derided as a publicity stunt.