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CHA Transformation: Children and Youth

CHA Families and the Plan for Transformation Series

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Document date: August 11, 2010
Released online: August 11, 2010

Abstract

The distressed public housing developments of the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) were home to tens of thousands of children, many of whom suffered terrible consequences from the deplorable conditions. Because children are particularly vulnerable, child outcomes have been a special focus for the HOPE VI Panel Study since the baseline study in 2001. On one hand, children are the most likely to benefit in important ways from improved housing quality—and reduced exposure to risks such as lead paint or mold. On the other hand, moving can disrupt their education and friendships and even put older youth at risk for conflict with local gangs. This brief examines how relocation has affected the well-being of the youngest former Madden/Wells residents. In general, we find that these youth are doing relatively well; however, there are some reasons for concern, especially for boys.


The text below is an excerpt from the complete document. Read the full report in PDF format. Part of the CHA Families and the Plan for Transformation brief series.

Introduction

The distressed public housing developments of the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) were home to tens of thousands of children, many of whom suffered terrible consequences from the deplorable conditions— plagued by asthma after living in cockroachinfested buildings or injured by lead paint, unprotected radiators, darkened stairwells, and other hazards. Still more were victims of the overwhelming social disorganization, neglected or abused by drug-addicted parents, traumatized by witnessing violence, killed or injured in gang wars, or arrested and incarcerated for their own involvement in the disorder (Popkin et al. 2000).

Because children are particularly vulnerable, child outcomes have been a special focus for the HOPE VI Panel Study since the baseline study in 2001. On one hand, children are the most likely to benefit in important ways from improved housing quality—and reduced exposure to such risks as lead paint or mold—and from safer, less distressed neighborhoods. On the other hand, moving can disrupt their education and friendships and even put older youth at risk for conflict with local gangs. The HOPE VI Panel Study survey included questions about children's behavior, which is an indicator of children's mental health. In 2005, we found that across the five sites, children whose families received vouchers were faring better after relocation than those still living in traditional public housing developments (Gallagher and Bajaj 2007). However, those still living in their original development in 2005 were experiencing the most problems, with parents— especially those of girls—reporting high levels of behavior problems and delinquency. These findings suggested that girls, in particular, were suffering from the ill effects of being left behind in a development that was becoming increasingly dangerous and chaotic as vacancies increased (Popkin 2010).

By the 2009 follow-up, Madden/Wells had been closed for more than a year and all the residents had been relocated. This brief examines how relocation has affected the well-being of the youngest former Madden/Wells residents. As in our earlier work, we rely on parental reports from the survey, because we did not survey children. However, we did conduct in-person interviews with nine young people from the survey sample. In general, we find that these youth are doing relatively well; however, there are some reasons for concern, especially for boys.

(End of excerpt. The full report is available in PDF format.)



Topics/Tags: | Children and Youth | Cities and Neighborhoods | Housing


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