|Chicago Mag illustration Richard Mia|
Since the early ’80s, blacks in South and West Side neighborhoods have been steadily leaving the city, resettling at first largely in the Cook County suburbs. But over the past 15 years, more and more have been leaving the area entirely for northwest Indiana, Iowa’s Quad Cities, and Sun Belt states, says Alden Loury, the director of research and evaluation at the Metropolitan Planning Council. Today there are roughly 850,000 blacks in Chicago, down from 1.2 million in 1980.How does Chicago send the message that the city cares about its Black residents?
The reasons for this are varied: The foreclosure crisis saw blacks evicted disproportionately from their rental apartments and houses; the Chicago Housing Authority leveled high-rises like the Robert Taylor Homes, scattering public housing residents; the lack of stable employment in South and West Side neighborhoods continues to force residents to look elsewhere for jobs; and school closures further disenfranchise communities. “There are not a lot of messages that Chicago cares about its black residents,” says Mary Pattillo, a sociology and African American studies professor at Northwestern University and author of the book Black Picket Fences. “When you lose the institutions that cultivate attachment, it makes it a lot easier to pick up and leave.”
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