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A Decent Place to Live

A Decent Place to Live

The Postwar Housing Shortage

(p.118) Chapter Four A Decent Place to Live
Crucibles of Black Empowerment
Jeffrey Helgeson
University of Chicago Press

The next two chapters (Ch. 4 and 5) examine black Chicagoans’ struggles to win access to the unevenly distributed benefits of the postwar economic boom. This chapter shifts attention from the battles along the color line to efforts to secure housing behind the walls of segregation. The crisis of housing demanded a radical response, yet because the immediate needs for housing were so severe, radicals faced repression, and the opportunities for improved prospects were real at least for some black Chicagoans, many people continued to pursue individualistic efforts to win housing and to work with liberal institutions like the Chicago Housing Authority and the Chicago Urban League. Such efforts achieved important pragmatic improvements in housing, against all odds, while also creating shared experiences of disappointment with liberal housing reform that would set the stage for more radical movements for community control in succeeding decades.

Keywords:   Segregation, Postwar, Economic boom, Housing crisis, Chicago Housing Authority, Chicago urban League, Liberal, Community Control

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