In the largest public housing reform effort in any city in the U.S., several high-rise public housing developments in Chicago have been demolished and are being replaced by mixed-income developments. Advocates for public housing residents have worked hard to negotiate a “right to return” to these new developments, which contain a mix of public housing replacement, affordable, and market-rate housing. Yet, as in other cities across the country, only a small percentage of residents, about 11 percent, have so far returned to the mixed-income developments. As a result, relatively few relocated public housing residents are directly benefiting from the major investment being made in mixed-income housing.
In this brief, we explore the factors that influenced relocated public housing residents’ decisions to return or not return to a mixed-income development. Through interviews with relocated public housing residents of three mixed-income developments in Chicago—Jazz on the Boulevard, Oakwood Shores, and Westhaven Park—as well as a group of residents who chose not to return, we find that the following issues significantly influenced resident decision-making:
- Attachments to place and people
- Time pressures and other constraints
- Anticipated benefits from the mixed-income environment
- Trade-offs and risks associated with moves to mixed-income developments
This brief is based on a longer paper, Mixed-Income Developments and Low Rates of Return: Insights from Relocated Public Housing Residents in Chicago (Joseph and Chaskin, 2012, Housing Policy Debate 22(3): 377-405).