Chicago Reader: The city that works, just ignore the poverty
|Boarded up building 59th & Eggleston by Steve Bogira|
There are many ways to assess cities. I judge them on the scope and depth of their poverty. By that measure, Chicago has needed revamping for ages—and still does.
In 2000, nearly one in five Chicagoans—19.6 percent, or more than 556,000 people—were living in poverty. That's not a statistic any major city could be proud of. A decade later, our poverty rate has increased, to 22.1 percent. (The poverty line for a single adult younger than 65 is $11,344.)
In 2000, 10.1 percent of Chicagoans were living in extreme poverty—their incomes were below half of the poverty line. Today, in revamped Chicago, the proportion of residents in extreme poverty is—still 10.1 percent.
Those figures are from a new report by the Social IMPACT Research Center of the Heartland Alliance. Each year, the center analyzes census numbers and tabulates the socioeconomic status of Chicago's 77 community areas. The citywide poverty numbers aren't new, but the figures on the community areas are—and they show that the city that’s "obviously" getting things done isn't getting them done in the neighborhoods desperate for help.Read the whole thing!
Ten community areas have poverty rates of at least 40 percent: Englewood, West Englewood, Washington Park, Oakland, Fuller Park, Burnside, and Riverdale on the south side, and West Garfield Park, East Garfield Park, and North Lawndale on the west side. You might expect that a revamped Chicago would no longer be hypersegregated—but these ten communities are 92 to 99 percent African-American.
Seven of these ten communities also lead the city in extreme poverty, with at least 20 percent of their residents below half the poverty line. That's an extraordinary rate, given that people in extreme poverty are often living in shelters or squatting in abandoned buildings.