The 1969 federal court case brought by Dorothy Gautreaux and 40,000 other public housing residents against the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) continues to affect the delivery of public housing assistance. The plaintiffs claimed that CHA had engaged in systematic racial discrimination by segregating low-income black people in housing projects located in Chicago's inner city, and the ruling in favor of Gautreaux directed HUD to develop and implement a mobility program to move poor black families out of public housing projects and into affordable housing throughout the Chicago metropolitan area. What became known as HUD's Gautreaux Assisted Housing Program became part of a new national housing policy that increasingly relies on subsidies to renters rather than subsidies to housing developers.
Over the years, Gautreaux has spawned numerous other tenant-based mobility programs, including HUD's Moving to Opportunity (MTO) demonstration and research project. The underlying rationale for these programs is to give low-income inner-city households the opportunity to live in safer, more integrated neighborhoods with access to better schools and employment.
Understanding the conditions under which these tenant-assisted programs can be successful is critically important for today's policymaker and the subject of two new analytical publications. Crossing the Class and Color Lines: From Public Housing to White Suburbia, by Leonard S. Rubinowitz and James E. Rosenbaum, examines the legacy of the Gautreaux program, which over time has helped more than 7,000 low-income black families find new homes across the Chicago metropolitan area. In "Vouchering Out Distressed Subsidized Developments: Does Moving Lead to Improvements in Housing and Neighborhood Conditions?" David P. Varady and Carole C. Walker analyze the impact of resident relocation programs implemented in connection with HUD's closing of troubled housing developments in Baltimore, Maryland; Kansas City, Missouri; Newport News, Virginia; and San Francisco, California.