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The Economic Costs of Segregation – And Recommendations to Address It


Though Chicago’s population is a diverse mix of ethnicities, the city is notoriously segregated – both by race and income – and, experts say, that segregation is costly.

A new report from the Metropolitan Planning Council, a follow-up to a report issued last year called the Cost of Segregation, makes more than two dozen recommendations to reduce the economic costs of segregation.

The recommendations are fairly wide-ranging, addressing income taxes, housing and criminal justice.

One is to adopt a racial equity framework in which government – both elected officials and agencies – as well as private sector businesses and even nonprofits re-examine how they do business and whether it perpetuates inequalities.

Another recommendation centers on affordable housing. The report suggests making more housing available to people who have Housing Choice Vouchers, formerly known as Section 8, by raising the allowable rent covered under a voucher. The report gives the Near South Side community as an example, saying that currently there are no two-bedroom units eligible for a Housing Choice Voucher in that area. 

Another suggestion is to lessen local control over affordable housing decisions. In this case, if an alderman’s ward has less than 10 percent affordable housing, the report contends that the alderman should not be allowed to reject or delay a proposed residential development where 10 percent of the units would be affordable. While most aldermen may support affordable housing, they may not all be ready to give up that control.


Another suggestion from the report: breaking the link between poverty and incarceration. The report predicts a nearly $200 million savings by eliminating secured money bail, and holding people in jail because they’re low-income.

The report also suggests implicit bias training for criminal justice system workers – from judges to staff, and ending suspension of drivers licenses’ for simple non-payment of tickets or fines.

Follow Brandis Friedman on Twitter @BrandisFriedman


Related stories:

Report: Segregation Costs Chicago, Residents Billions Annually

50 Years Since the Fair Housing Act, Segregation Persists

‘The Problem We All Live With’: Ruby Bridges on Racism in America Today


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