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Hidden War: The Battle to Control Crime in Chicago's Public Housing

NCJ Number
Date Published
401 pages
Three developments under the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA), including Rockwell, Horner, and Ickes, were studied in terms of crime and disorder and social cohesion and the impact of Chicago's Anti-Drug Initiative (ADI).
The ADI was introduced in 1991 as an extensive public housing crime prevention program that focused on improving public housing conditions and implementing aggressive law enforcement, public housing management improvements, increased security, tenant patrols, and drug prevention and intervention services. CHA success in implementing ADI programs was evaluated, and a more limited assessment of an experiment with intensive police patrols in the Robert Taylor Homes was conducted. ADI initiatives included security guards, sweeps, police crime prevention activities, tenant patrols, maintenance, and the establishment of CADRE (Combating Alcohol and Drugs Through Rehabilitation and Education) centers. The impact of ADI programs was explored in terms of physical disorder, social disorder, crime and violence, victimization and fear, and resident empowerment. Findings showed that public housing developments differed considerably at the outset in terms of crime and disorder and social cohesion and that ADI programs had a positive impact. In particular, improvements in Rockwell and sustained stability in Ickes pointed to the importance of good site management in public housing crime prevention efforts. The tenant patrol program was one of the more successful elements of the ADI, and CADRE centers were also successful in organizing a wide array of drug prevention activities and forming mutually beneficial partnerships with nearby schools. The CHA was clearly fighting an uphill battle against gangs and drug dealers, the relationship between criminals and other residents was complex, and the CHA experienced serious management and financial problems. Future plans of the CHA relative to public housing are examined. Appendixes include photographs, the survey form, an interview guide, and a codebook. References and exhibits

Date Published: January 1, 1996