Do the poor need middle-class supervision?
For nearly 10 years, the Chicago Housing Authority has been promising to rehab the Cabrini row houses. But after all this time, it might not happen.
You’re probably familiar with the Cabrini high-rises, the ones that appear in the opening credits of Good Times and have a lasting reputation for terrible living conditions and intense violence.
But you might not know about the row houses, 586 units of low-rise housing that was the original Cabrini-Green. Built back in the 40s as housing for war-time factory workers, the row houses have been the only thing at Cabrini that wasn’t going to see a wrecking ball.
But now, it’s not so clear. Chicago lawyer and legend, Alex Polikoff, has raised an objection to the row houses being rehabbed, saying that having a pocket of concentrated poverty so close to the mixed-income condos and townhouses that have replaced Cabrini would end up hurting the entire area in the long run.
Polikoff says it’s been proven that concentrated poverty doesn’t work – that it’s bad for the people who live there and for the surrounding communities.
But resident leaders and their lawyers have been counting on the huge number of units in the rehabbed row houses to bring a lot of Cabrini families who were moved out back into the neighborhood. And they say that public housing residents, with good management and security, can create a positive, vibrant community in the row houses.
All the details of what’s happening are in the piece I wrote for today’s edition of Skyline News, but I want to know what you think.
Do you think that having a lot of poor families living near each other is always a recipe for disaster? Or can poor communities, with the right support, be just as successful as higher income neighborhoods?
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