The Restructuring of Public Housing and Murder Rates in Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York: An Exploratory Analysis

Barbara A. Sherry, University of Illinois at Chicago

The newest iteration of America's seventy-odd year experiment with public housing is the restructuring of public housing. These restructuring includes the dismantling and demolition of many of the most infamous housing complexes in the United States, including Chicago's Cabrini Green. It will result in a new space of public housing, because at least seventy percent of public housing residents will be given housing vouchers, and are expected to move into scattered market-rate housing, while only thirty percent will remain in renovated or new public housing.

This massive removal, relocation, and restructuring may be expected to have an effect on crime rates in cities that contain large numbers of public housing residents, including Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles. While Los Angeles and New York have demonstrated drops in their homicide rates over the past ten years, Chicago has experienced no such drop. In this exploratory analysis, data gathered from HUD, the 2000 Census, city police departments, and other sources will be examined to determine whether differences in the restructuring of public housing in these three cities may help to explain differences in homicide rates.

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Updated 05/20/2006