Saturday, December 22, 2018

Tribune: Race, poverty and fair housing: Chicago's landmark Gautreaux case winds down

Just wanted to share this with you. Housing and real estate has been a frequent topic of this blog over the years. And this is probably something you might not know much about.
A federal judge, several lawyers and representatives of the Chicago Housing Authority on Friday formalized a special date: July 31, 2024. If all goes as planned, that last Wednesday of July more than five years from now will close out one of the nation’s longest and most impactful housing discrimination cases.

Dorothy Gautreaux, an Altgeld Gardens resident and lead plaintiff when the case was filed in 1966, died two years later at age 41. But her activism had helped launch a movement extending beyond the landmark legal battle that originated in Chicago: Her cause, housing fairness, also had broadened the goals of the civil rights movement. The anti-discrimination marches of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. had come to embrace equal access to housing as a national cause.

For more than 40 years and with countless twists and turns, CHA has been trying to reverse what the U.S. Supreme Court determined in its 1976 Gautreaux ruling: Federal and local housing authorities in Chicago were violating the constitutional and civil rights of public housing tenants by concentrating and isolating them in low-income neighborhoods.

Over time, the court’s ruling slowed the purposeful crowding of black tenants in concentrated high-rise developments and accelerated the distribution of housing vouchers to integrate black families into communities throughout the city and suburbs. That remains the case today.

The Supreme Court decision also spurred CHA to build and renovate thousands of units and scatter them in more prosperous areas of Chicago. And it nudged a housing revolution, led by former Mayor Richard M. Daley, that included the teardown of the notorious Cabrini-Green public housing complex and others comparable to it.
BTW, the Sun-Times also wrote about this recently.

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