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Public Housing


BPI’s public housing work is an outgrowth of our groundbreaking Gautreaux lawsuit, in which a federal court determined in 1969 that the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) had unconstitutionally segregated African American public housing residents and ordered an expansive remedy. Since this decision, BPI lawyers have acted as legal counsel for public housing residents in the Gautreaux case,  working to break down the racial segregation and economic isolation that produced what may once have been the worst public housing system in the nation.

Today, BPI promotes both revitalizing public housing communities and increasing opportunities for public housing families to move to areas of high opportunity, including through “housing mobility” programs.




  • 2016: BPI and CHA agree to a court order that requires CHA to develop 524 family public housing units on Chicago’s North Side to replace units that will no longer be available in the new mixed-income development planned for the site of the Julia C. Lathrop Homes public housing development.
  • 2015: BPI, CHA and the Cabrini Local Advisory Council enter into court-approved agreements that provide for the redevelopment of 1,800 public housing units in mixed-income developments in the Cabrini area, with a provision that up to 40% of the units be public housing, a higher percentage than was previously allowed.
  • 2014: BPI goes to court in response to CHA’s plans to rehabilitate nearly 600 additional units in Altgeld Gardens, resulting in a court-approved agreement that calls for the CHA to develop more than $20 million of new or improved community facilities, including a community resource center, library, park facilities, and child-care centers.
  • 2012: After several years of exploring conditions in the Altgeld-Murray Homes, BPI works with stakeholders in the community to organize the Altgeld-Riverdale Early Learning Coalition, whose mission is to strengthen learning opportunities for children pre-birth to eight years old.
  • 2010:  After 23 years, the federal court’s Gautreaux Receivership ends, while BPI attorneys continue to serve as counsel for the plaintiff class of public housing residents and applicants.
  • 2009: BPI releases The Third Side: A Mid-Course Report on Chicago’s Transformation of Public Housing, a comprehensive assessment of progress made and recommendations for the future.
  • 2006: BPI helps launch a demonstration program providing in-depth social services and mobility counseling for hard-to-house CHA families, and as an outgrowth CHA subsequently expands and significantly improves its supportive services programming.
  • 2002: BPI advocates successfully for revival of the Gautreaux Assisted Housing Program to provide housing for 500 families moving from CHA developments to neighborhoods of low-poverty and low-minority concentration throughout the metropolitan region.
  • 1999: The U. S. Court of Appeals affirms that Gautreaux rules apply to federal public housing redevelopment programs.
  • 1996: With BPI participation and support, revitalization begins at CHA’s Henry Horner complex, the first of many efforts to convert large segregated concentrations of public housing into mixed-income housing communities.
  • 1994: With BPI help, Moving to Opportunity, a national demonstration program (modeled on the Gautreaux Assisted Housing Program) that enables public housing residents to move to low-poverty communities, begins in five U.S. cities.
  • 1992: BPI’s long-term advocacy plays a key role in CHA’s decision to place its scattered site public housing under private management.
  • 1987: At BPI’s urging, the Court appoints an Independent Receiver to manage all CHA development.
  • 1976: BPI wins the Gautreaux case in the U.S. Supreme Court and establishes the important principle that metropolitan-wide remedies are permissible to redress central city housing segregation; the Gautreaux Assisted Housing Program, the nation’s first housing mobility program, is launched.
  • 1970: BPI becomes the home of the watershed Gautreaux case when lead attorney Alexander Polikoff joins BPI as Executive Director.




Recipient of the MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions

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