Civil Rights-era lawsuit settlement could boost affordable housing in Chicago

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A decades-long battle over the city’s public housing practices could soon end, with the Chicago Housing Authority approving a settlement that will require it to develop a number of affordable projects in the city by 2024.

The CHA and lawyers for former public housing residents on Friday agreed to settle a case filed in 1966 that accused the agency of concentrating public housing in poor neighborhoods and restricting residents’ ability to rent in higher-income areas. A federal judge is now considering whether to approve the landmark settlement, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Under the settlement, the CHA will be required to complete a number of mixed-income developments it has planned as well as strengthen its voucher program to allow recipients to rent throughout the city. The CHA would have to meet these goals by 2024, at which point the lawsuit will officially close.

The settlement could have wide-ranging impacts on Chicago’s affordable housing offerings. Some of the developments that will need to be completed in that timeline are Related Midwest’s Lathrop Homes and the ABLA Homes redevelopment in University Village.

Brought by community activist Dorothy Gautreaux in 1966, the lawsuit was filed when the civil rights movement sought better and more fair housing for minorities. The litigation was instrumental in the city moving away from the practice of building high rise public housing, like the Cabrini Green site on the Near North Side, according to the Tribune.

More recently, the city has moved to a mixed-use method of developing CHA housing units, including partnering with the Chicago Public Library to build units on top of new libraries, like Related Midwest is doing on the Near West Side. [Chicago Tribune] — Joe Ward


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