HuffPost What's Working Honor Roll: Agencies In One City Band Together To Integrate Suburbia

Chicago agencies band together to lift poor families out of poverty.

As journalists, we dutifully report on what's going wrong, from scandals and corruption to natural disasters and social problems. But far too often the media fails to show the whole picture, neglecting to tell the stories of what is working. From scientific breakthroughs to successful crime-reduction initiatives, the What’s Working Honor Roll highlights some of the best reporting and analysis, from a range of media outlets, on all the ways people are working toward solutions to some of our greatest challenges. 

Chicago has a long history of implementing discriminatory housing policies that have kept neighborhoods racially and financially segregated for decades. Numerous benefits come with being able to reside in "good neighborhoods": Children are more likely to go to college, get better jobs and, ultimately, escape poverty. 

So in 2002, the Chicago Housing Authority and housing authorities in local counties developed the Regional Housing Initiative, which gives low-income, largely minority families housing subsidies in "opportunity areas" -- i.e., more affluent neighborhoods with better schools, less crime and more access to jobs. Black families, once excluded from affluent neighborhoods, are being given the opportunity to integrate into predominantly white communities. 

The program draws on funds from nine different public-housing authorities, each which contributes a potion of its funds to the program. Without the collaboration, no single agency could provide enough vouchers on its own. 

“It’s really in some ways a workaround that we’ve created in the Chicago area to create more affordable and mixed-income housing in suburban opportunity areas," said Breann Gala, a project manager at the Metropolitan Planning Council, one of the organizations behind RHI. “We see this as a tool for both de-concentrating poverty and promoting access to opportunity."


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