Frank Main, Chicago Sun-Times, April 5, 2012
Crime was worse in neighborhoods where former Chicago Housing Authority residents used vouchers to move into private apartments, a new study found.
From 2000 to 2008, violent crime was 21 percent higher in neighborhoods with high concentrations of voucher-holding former CHA residents — when compared to similar neighborhoods without them, the Washington-based Urban Institute found. Property crime also would have been lower without relocated residents in those neighborhoods, the study said.
Violent crime dropped about 26 percent across the city over the same time period, according to the Chicago Police Department. The Urban Institute attributed about 1 percent of the decrease to CHA’s 1999 plan to knock down Cabrini-Green and other notorious housing complexes.
“We are estimating crime went down less in neighborhoods where the ‘relocatees’ moved,” said Susan Popkin, an author of the study released Thursday.
In the past, CHA said there was no evidence of a link between crime and the relocation of public housing residents. “Until this study, really, there hasn’t been any data that addresses this question,” CHA spokeswoman Kellie O’Connell-Miller said.
“It reiterates the importance to us to remain committed to responsible relocation strategies,” she said.
Popkin said CHA’s support for voucher holders has improved over the years and is a model for other cities planning to tear down public housing.
CHA has encouraged former public housing residents to move to “opportunity areas” with better schools and services. But many have chosen to stay in “vulnerable” areas on the city’s South and West sides, which are more familiar to them, the study found.
By the end of 2011, about 4,000 voucher-holding former CHA residents lived in the city and about 70 were in the suburbs, according to CHA.