Closing a Community Helped the Kids

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CHA Transformation: Children and Youth

Urban Institute

Closing down a troubled public housing community appears to have helped the children.

The closing of the Madden/Wells homes in Chicago and the relocation of the residents (completed in 2009) means that more of the youths now live in better neighborhoods. The median neighborhood poverty rate for youths who had lived in the homes dropped from 65 percent in 2001 to 33 percent in 2009, while the median violent crime rate declined from 43 per 1,000 people to 27 for every 1,000 people in 2009.

Girls seem to be faring better than boys, specifically in behavior and education. The girls are more likely to be highly engaged in school compared with boys, whereas boys account for all the youths who have been arrested or gone to juvenile court.

However, some youths are struggling with the relocation, having lost the “comfort and familiarity” of the previous development, and have trouble making new friends, saying that they have only “associates.”

Though the results are not optimal, the report found the Chicago Housing Authority’s transformation to be a success for improving circumstances and opportunities for youths.  The report offers recommendations to improve the program.

Free, 8 pages.