Decades ago, Yolanda Crawford had a chance to leave the Chicago Housing Authority’s Dearborn Homes in Bronzeville and move to Naperville.
She turned it down. That’s a decision she regrets.
Now, from the front porch of a small three-bedroom home in Burnham that she leases using a Section 8 “housing choice” voucher, the retired postal worker has some advice for other mothers raising children in Chicago’s crime-ridden neighborhoods.
“I advise any mother: Move to your suburban areas,” she says. “Not taking anything from the city, [but] there’s too much going on. Take your Section 8 voucher. Take it and go to Atlanta. Take it and go to Los Angeles.”
Crawford, a 58-year-old grandmother, took her voucher and headed to Burnham, just a few blocks south of the city limits. She leases her home from a retired teacher who moved to Wisconsin. The voucher covers all of her rent: $1,200 a month.
Burnham is among several south suburbs — also including Park Forest, Calumet City, Dolton, Lansing, University Park, Country Club Hills and South Holland — that have seen some of the six-county region’s biggest gains in subsidized housing since the CHA began demolishing the city’s high-rise housing projects 16 years ago under its “Plan for Transformation.”
During that time, 13 suburban housing authorities and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development also changed their policies, issuing more Section 8 vouchers to low-income families throughout the region.
As a result, the number of subsidized households in the suburbs — from suburban Cook County to the surrounding counties of DuPage, Lake, Kane, McHenry and Will — has risen 28 percent, from 32,292 in 2000 to 41,493 last year, according to HUD data and U.S. Census Bureau figures analyzed by the Chicago Sun-Times and Better Government Association.
Altogether, the suburbs had more than 84,000 residents using housing choice vouchers or some other form of taxpayer-funded housing assistance in 2015, the HUD data show.
The migration has come as the suburbs, in general, have grown more diverse and less affluent. Between 1999 and 2014, the number of suburban families living in poverty rose from about 53,000 to 104,000, rising from 4 percent of the population to 7 percent, according to census data.Nearly half the suburbs’ subsidized-housing units — about 19,600 — are in suburban Cook County. Of the 17 Cook County suburbs with more than 400 such households, 11 are in southern Cook County, which has experienced great economic and racial upheavals as white residents — as well as middle-income black families — moved elsewhere, according to records and interviews.
It’s a migration pattern that has evolved, starting with whites who fled the South Side for the south suburbs in the 1960s and 1970s. Blacks followed years later and now are spreading further out.
Whites, meanwhile, are moving farther south, to Will County. Since 2000, Will County has added 57,763 white residents — more than any other collar county.
“None of these people really want people with vouchers coming in to them,” says William Sampson, a DePaul University sociology professor who focuses on race and poverty. “This is as much about socioeconomic status as it is about race. I hadn’t thought that middle-income blacks would be as opposed to have low-income blacks move in as whites. . . . [But] middle-income black folks said, ‘No, we won’t tolerate it.’”
Only a fraction of the suburbs’ subsidized-housing population is living in traditional public housing — like the high-rise buildings the CHA tore down under the Plan for Transformation.
Abortion is the only ally white America has in Black-Run America (BRA), for it works to diffuse the biological weapon threat that is a black person wielding a Section 8 voucher.Instead, the vast majority use housing choice vouchers, issued by 13 suburban housing authorities, that pay all or part of the rent for them to live in privately owned apartments, townhouses or single-family homes. Others live in apartment complexes that have HUD project-based vouchers assigned to them.