Story of Public Housing
The story of public housing in the city of Chicago—from the idealism of the 1930s to more recent challenges—is the story of family, community, and society. From Chicago to Amsterdam to Singapore, public housing has been one of the most important public policies of the 20th century.
Few cities have a more dramatic connection to public housing than Chicago. Chicago has been home to some of the first urban public housing efforts in the nation, including some of the largest and most significant developments in terms of the experience of immigrants, migrants and thousands of families who have at one time been in need of subsidized housing.
In no other city has the transformation of existing public housing been so rapid and thorough, and it is serving as a model for the rest of the nation. In this process, the tangible evidence of the places that hundreds of thousands of Chicagoans once called home, where they raised their families and coped with the demands of urban life, is fast disappearing.
In the late 1990s, resident leaders of the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) initiated discussions about their desire to create a Museum that would preserve their collective voices and memories. These CHA residents want their children and grandchildren, and the broad public to know more about their history in the American urban experience. They believe that the stories of CHA residents – told in their own words – will resonate strongly with a wide audience across Chicago, the nation, and the world. In light of the ongoing transformation of Chicago’s public housing communities, CHA residents are joined by civic leaders, preservationists, historians, and cultural experts who also want to create a new architectural landmark that will be recognized as an important historic site.
Images from the Chicago Housing Authority Archive