How Chicago's public housing has changed since 1999

April 15, 2011

A new report is giving a unique look into the 12-year history of a public housing program in Chicago. The report gives insight into The Plan for Transformation. Mayor Richard Daley launched the program in 1999, with the goal of creating or rehabbing 25,000 public housing units.

"I didn't really get a sense that there was a clear connection to transforming people's lives to the level that perhaps they want to see," said Janet Smith, an urban planning professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Smith said what's striking about the report is the number of people who have left the public housing program since 1999.

Forty-four percent of residents no longer get government assistance, either because they died, were evicted, are living on their own or the city lost track of them.

The study shows more than 2,200 residents have not responded to the Chicago Housing Authority's efforts to track where they're living.

CHA CEO Lewis Jordan said technology has improved the agency's efforts to locate its residents.

"This is a good story," Jordan said. "You know, this is a good story. Do we wish it were better? Yes we do. Are we working towards making it better? Absolutely. But this is a good story."

Eight percent of families that started in the program in 1999 are now living on their own without CHA support.

The report shows a map of Chicago twelve years ago vs. today. The big difference in public housing? It's more spread out now because under the program, many public housing high rises have been destroyed.