Chicago Fed: Preserving Chicago’s Minority Middle Neighborhoods

Preserving Chicago’s Minority Middle Neighborhoods

By Maude Toussaint-Comeau , Robin Newberger

Introduction

“Not every city in the U.S. has Chicago’s rich history of Black middle class neighborhoods. But as places in the city have become increasingly unequal, Black middle class neighborhoods have come to feel like an endangered species. The current pandemic is likely to make the challenges even more difficult. This article analyzes data on key aspects of the changes that have taken place in the last few decades in traditionally middle-income/middle class minority neighborhoods of Chicago. We find that while Black middle class neighborhoods on the South and West sides of Chicago have been in decline, they differ in terms of the economic hardship facing their populations. We also report on a variety of interventions that are helping to make these places neighborhoods of choice and opportunity. These strategies include businesses, nonprofits, and others investing in local talent and local assets to tell new stories about their neighborhoods; residents, by way of grass-roots efforts, advocating to create more responsive systems for safety and economic development; local intermediaries working with city and county government to support healthy housing markets; and a public sector committing to long-term investments in both the physical and commercial environment.”

Published by Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago