Mixed-income developments, like those being built as part of the Chicago Housing Authority’s Plan for Transformation, are part of a policy effort that seeks to deconcentrate poverty by demolishing public housing sites and attracting higher-income residents to live alongside former public housing residents in the redeveloped communities. The primary focus of these efforts has been on economic integration, with little attention paid to the issue of racial integration despite a public housing population in Chicago and many other U.S. cities that is predominantly African American.
In this brief, we examine how race remains relevant to the everyday lives and experiences of residents in three mixed-income communities in Chicago—Oakwood Shores, Park Boulevard, and Westhaven Park. Based on interviews and focus groups with residents and professional stakeholders, we find that concerns about “ghetto culture” continue to inform in the attitudes of many higher-income, non-black homeowners and development professionals in these contexts. The relative privilege and power these groups have to establish and enforce norms, policies, and rules leads to challenging interracial dynamics at the developments. We also find complex intraracial dynamics at play in these communities. Relocated public housing residents and other low-income black renters experience targeting and marginalization from black, as well as non-black, neighbors.
This brief is based on a longer paper, “The Enduring Significance of Race in Mixed-Income Communities” (Khare, Joseph and Chaskin), Urban Affairs Review, 2014, DOI: 10.1177/1078087414537608).