In 1969, a federal judge issued a judgment order prohibiting CHA from constructing any new public housing in areas of the city that were predominantly African-American unless CHA also built public housing elsewhere. The 1969 order also placed other restrictions on CHA – most notably that the housing authority could no longer build high-rise public housing for families and could not build dense concentrations of public housing in any neighborhood. These restrictions continue to govern where and how public housing can be built in Chicago today.
In 1971, the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that because HUD had funded CHA even though it was well aware of the Authority's discriminatory practices, HUD was also liable for CHA's illegal actions, and in 1976, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously that HUD could be required to work throughout the Chicago metropolitan area to remedy its past discriminatory behavior in Chicago. That Supreme Court decision paved the way for the remedial program that is most often associated with the case – the Gautreaux Assisted Housing Program – the nation’s first major housing mobility program. Families who were part of the Gautreaux plaintiff class could receive special Section 8 rent certificates for private apartments in neighborhoods in which no more than 30 percent of the residents were African-American. Participants received assistance from the Leadership Council for Metropolitan Open Communities in finding housing in diverse city neighborhoods or in the suburbs. Between 1976 and 1998, when it ended, the Gautreaux Assisted Housing Program helped more than 25,000 voluntary participants move to more than 100 communities throughout the metropolitan area, roughly half to integrated suburbs and half to integrated neighborhoods in the city.
The Gautreaux decision also led to the creation of the "scattered site" public housing program, under which public housing was built not in enormous, isolated communities, but rather on a small scale, dispersed in neighborhoods throughout the city, indistinguishable from surrounding buildings. The program had a long and difficult birth, and after nearly two decades of CHA intransigence, the court eventually concluded that a receiver should be appointed to carry out the program and do what CHA would not. Beginning in1987, when it was appointed, the Receiver constructed or rehabilitated nearly 2,000 scattered site public housing units in more than 57 Chicago communities. After 23 years the Receivership was terminated in 2010.
Now, in the third remedial phase of the case, Gautreaux requirements are helping to ensure that CHA's Plan for Transformation creates well-working, mixed income communities in what were once public housing-dominated neighborhoods. Although the Gautreaux court orders generally restrict construction of public housing in segregated neighborhoods, the court has permitted some exceptions when a neighborhood is "revitalizing" – that is, enough development activity is underway or planned that economic integration is likely in the short run, and racial integration might follow in the long run. As a result, hundreds of new public housing units have been built and hundreds more are planned.
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