Friday, April 29, 2011

As Neighborhood Changes, Who’s at Fault? - Chicago News Cooperative

As Neighborhood Changes, Who’s at Fault? - Chicago News Cooperative

An interesting report by Mick Dumke about Chatham:
The issue is hotly debated in Chatham, a middle-class community known for wide lots, manicured lawns, and large bungalows. For decades, black professionals, business leaders, and city workers flocked to the area, roughly bounded by 79th Street, Vincennes Avenue, 91st Street and Cottage Grove. But many longtime residents said Chatham has shown signs of deterioration in the last decade, and they believe the Plan for Transformation is part of the problem.
However real that perception might feel to residents of Chatham, police data and information from the housing authority do not support a connection between an influx of former public-housing residents and an increased crime rate. Police reports show that total violent crime in Chatham has dropped since the Plan for Transformation was launched. Between 1998 and 2009, the most recent year available, aggravated assaults and batteries, which include shootings, have declined 24 percent, from 515 to 392. Murders have climbed, then fallen back, from 11 in 1998 to 22 in 2001 before dropping to 13 in 2009.

The number of former public housing residents in Chatham has also decreased in recent years, according to C.H.A. figures. As of the end of December, 2010, 117 former C.H.A. families were living in Chatham with the help of rental subsidy vouchers. That’s down from 163 in 2005 and ranks 15th in the city.
Chatham is undeniably going through a challenging transitional period. The commercial corridors on Cottage Grove and 79th and 87th Streets are struggling. The number of business licenses in the 60619 ZIP code, which includes Chatham, declined 5 percent, from 1,248 to 1,180, between 2000 and 2011, according to the city’s Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection.

At the same time, the area’s housing has become less stable than in the past. More than 1,200 homes have gone into foreclosure in Chatham since the beginning of 2007, according to the Woodstock Institute, a research and advocacy organization. That is far less than in many troubled South Side communities but a shock for relatively affluent Chatham.

The population of Chatham dropped by about 2 percent between 2000 and 2009, the census estimated, and renters now appear to constitute a larger slice of the community. The number of owner-occupied units in Chatham and surrounding neighborhoods dropped 10 percent during the time period, while the number of housing units occupied by renters grew slightly, according to an analysis by the Chicago Rehab Network, a housing research and advocacy organization.
There are other parts to this series Dumke is working on with regards to connecting the "Plan for transformation" with any uptick in crime within those communities that wouldn't normally see an uptick.

In fact check out this chart by Dumke about comparing violence in Chicago.

BTW, Eddie Johnson who is not only the commander of the Sixth District - Gresham @ 7808 South Halsted Street , but also used to be a beat officer in Chatham during the 1990s. But you'll have to read the whole article to see what he says.

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