“Public Housing: Revitalization Threatens Low-Income Residents Access to Community and Opportunity” – Jacquelle Safforld


Name: Jacquelle Safforld

Department: Institute for Policy and Civic Engagement, UIC

Advisor: Dr. Joseph K. Hoereth, IPCE

For over a century, governments have struggled to find solutions to the overcrowded, unsafe and unsanitary conditions that plagued many low-income residential spaces. Most of the solutions presented were in the form of housing acts and plans like the Burnham 1909 Plan, Wagner Stegall Act of 1934, and the Hope VI Revitalization Plan which was a result of the Fair Housing Act of 1986 (H.R.41199). The ultimate purpose of these initiatives was to provide neighborhoods with much-needed resources, to beautify them, and to make them safe and habitable spaces.  In turn creating neighborhoods spaces that become an integral and vital part of their city and community at large. To governing bodies like the federal government’s Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Economic Development and the Chicago Housing Authority, redevelopment meant demolishing and replacing buildings in targeted areas, with new and improved buildings and living spaces and hopefully improving the quality of life of the citizens residing in these communities.  The acts and laws mentioned earlier, established new administrative enforcement authorities, that gave and enabled government entities and business elites’ justifiable reason to demolish current affordable housing structures and replace them with structures that they deemed necessary. These acts called for the transformation and redevelopment of distressed, disinvested areas by any means necessary; the laws, plans and processes reflect that. Through literature review, data extracted from the United States Census Bureau, and analysis of the Hope VI plan and the plans proceeding, it is clear that low-income families have suffered many injustices under these inequitable plans and practices. In retrospect, the literature review conducted helped develop recommendations to offset and potentially alleviate the negative effects of these plans and practices. The recommendations that are proposed have been used to try to address the housing disparities and injustices in other cities and have shown some promise in helping low-income residents obtain the resources they need in order to improve the conditions of their spaces and the quality of their lives.

Keywords: public housing, HOPE VI, low-income families, fair housing, revitalization 

Read more about Jacquelle's work here