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No Simple Solutions: Lessons from Chicago’s Public Housing Transformation

The newly released book No Simple Solutions: Transforming Public Housing in Chicago, written by Urban Institute senior fellow Susan J. Popkin, tells the story of how an ambitious—and risky—social experiment affected the lives of very low income, African American residents who suffered through the worst days of crime, decay, and rampant mismanagement of the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA). The CHA’s story offers important lessons for cities still grappling with the legacy of racial segregation and failed federal housing policies.

Following a short reading by Popkin, a panel discussion drawled on themes from Chicago’s experience and tied them to a broader conversation on neighborhood revitalization policies. Urban Institute scholar Rolf Pendall spoke about the implications of federal place-based initiatives that strive to address systematic inequalities that have created distressed neighborhoods. The panel also addressed the challenges of ensuring these efforts improve the life chances of residents in these distressed communities.




  • Ron Ashford, director, Public Housing Supportive Services, US Department of Housing and Urban Development
  • Mary Brown, executive director, DC Promise Neighborhood Initiative
  • Rolf Pendall, codirector, Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center, Urban Institute
  • Susan J. Popkin, senior fellow, Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center, Urban Institute


  • Erika Poethig, Institute fellow and director of urban policy initiatives, Urban Institute
event materials 

Registration will be available at 4:00 p.m. and the program will begin promptly at 4:30 p.m.
A reception will follow from 6:00 - 7:00 p.m. 
For inquiries regarding this event, please contact [email protected].

Date & Time Thursday, October 27, 2016
Urban Institute 2100 M Street NW
5th floor
Washington , DC , 20037
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  • Nonresident Fellow
  • Institute Fellow
    Codirector, Disability Equity Policy Initiative