In a program known as Plan for Transformation, thousands of former public housing residents were spread throughout Chicago’s outlying areas when the longstanding housing projects came down. And since that migration, existing residents of these once quiet neighborhoods have blamed their new neighbors for an influx in crime and problems in their neighborhood. However, this report and countless others show that the new residents may have nothing to do with the fluctuations in crime.
One neighborhood where the debate is ongoing is the Chatham community. A middle class neighborhood, the original residents have said their new neighbors, clients of Plan for Transformation, have brought crime and violence to their once-quiet community. But, statistics show crime in Chatham has actually decreased since Plan for Transformation began.
In addition to an actual drop in crime, the presence of former housing project residents isn’t as widespread as the long time middle class residents would have you think. According to the Chicago Housing Authority, only 1% of the housing in Chatham is occupied by someone receiving subsidy vouchers from the city, vouchers that have allowed traditionally inner city families to experience suburban life.
The perception of increased crime and its conflict with the reality of statistics has led the city to commission a study by the Urban Institute to see once and for all how the Plan for Transformation program may have affected crime and quality of life in these middle class communities.
Susan Popkin, a senior fellow with the Urban Institute, and the one tasked with leading the study has said she is skeptical that there will be clear links between crime and the changes. “Part of the problem is that these neighborhoods are changing anyways, so not all of the poor people moving in are from the C.H.A.,” she says. “I think it’s become a socially accepted way to say, ‘My neighborhood is changing and I don’t like it.’”
When a normally quiet neighborhood sees evidence of crime or violence, they want to distance themselves from it and the people behind it, even if that person was once a friend. When you’re the one facing charges, this sort of distancing can be felt immediately.
If you are facing criminal charges in the Cook County courts or in another part of Illinois, contact us today for a consultation.