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Gautreaux and Chicago's Public Housing Crisis

The Conflict Between Achieving Integration and Providing Decent Housing for Very Low-Income African Americans

By William P. Wilen & Wendy L. Stasell

Thirty years after the landmark Gautreaux public housing desegregation case, public housing in Chicago and across the nation remains overwhelmingly segregated. Amid an affordable-housing crisis, the debate rages over which of two important housing goals takes precedence: achieving integration or supplying decent housing for low-income African Americans even if it is in racially identifiable areas. Three lawsuits involving large-scale public housing developments in Chicago may raise doubt as to the efficacy of integration efforts as the best means for improving the quality of life for a substantial number of very low-income African American families.

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