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Old Posted Oct 4, 2019, 9:24 PM
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Chicago is losing its black middle class. Can it get it back?

Another interesting article from the Sun-times' "City at a Crossroads" series:

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Chicago is losing its black middle class. Can it get it back?

Conditions for black Chicagoans have become worse vs. the country overall and also compared to the rest of black America. Yet there are signs of a population turnaround.




Pete Saunders, an African American urban planner with a master’s from the University of Illinois at Chicago, has mixed feelings about leaving the city.

“The prevailing attitude among black people in Chicago is that, to move up, you’ve got to move away,” he says.

He and his wife, Gwen, left the South Side community of Auburn-Gresham and now live in Naperville, where they enjoy suburban amenities ranging from excellent schools and safe streets to no requirement for city parking stickers.

Other black families they know have left the Chicago area altogether for places like Atlanta, New York or Washington, D.C.

“There’s a lack of opportunity in Chicago,” Saunders says. “The feeling is there’s no place for us.”

......

Since 2000, Chicago has lost 256,000 black people — more than any other city in the U.S. including Detroit. The city’s black population has fallen from a peak of 1.2 million in 1980 to fewer than 800,000 now and is predicted to drop to 665,000 by 2030.

Chicago has lost black households at most income levels below $100,000, with the largest numbers in the $50,000-to-$75,000 range. The number of black households making $100,000 or more have increased modestly but nowhere near quickly enough to offset the losses.

Those leaving are largely families with children, census numbers suggest. Black population losses in the city are almost entirely confined to two age ranges — 35 to 54 and 19 and under. The decline in the number of school-age children already has led to one round of school closings, mostly on the West Side and South Side. Another seems unavoidable.

......

Whatever the reason, conditions for black Chicagoans have become conspicuously worse, not just in comparison to the United States overall but also to the rest of black America.

Nationwide, black unemployment is at a record low of 5.5%. In Chicago for 2017, the latest year available, it was 19%.

In the entire country, black households make 63% of what white households do. In Chicago, it’s just 43%.

......

What’s more, the number of black college grads in the city is rising faster than in the suburbs, reflecting what’s happening with the metro area’s college grads generally.

It’s premature to say black college graduates are flocking back to the city. Some neighborhoods are still losing black college grads, not adding them.

Still, some parts of town are seeing gains — notably the south lakefront. Coupled with increases in college grads of other ethnicities, there’s reason to think this area is starting to revive and eventually will become affluent as far south as Woodlawn.

Gwen Saunders says the family might return once their son is out of school — provided she can avoid city driving, which she hates.

“I would definitely move back,” she says.

full article: https://chicago.suntimes.com/crossro...ity-crossroads
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Old Posted Oct 4, 2019, 10:22 PM
LouisVanDerWright LouisVanDerWright is offline
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Households making less than $100k a year are not really "middle class" in Chicago, maybe working class or lower middle class, but for a household $100-200k is middle class. So really what this article is saying is that "Chicago is losing lower and lower middle class black households while gaining middle class black households at a slower rate"...

I've actually seen this in my properties, I have large numbers of Millenial, $100-200k households moving in. It's actually 25-33% of my tenant mix.
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Old Posted Oct 5, 2019, 1:00 AM
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I heard a lot of black folks are moving down to Southern metros like Atlanta, Nashville, Charlotte, etc in order to be close with family and enjoy the wealth these cities are now generating on a larger scale. However, the historic black centers in the Midwest and Northeast should still be as prosperous as well.
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Old Posted Oct 5, 2019, 1:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LouisVanDerWright View Post
Households making less than $100k a year are not really "middle class" in Chicago
But in the context of the black community of Chicago, the article states that black households only make about 43% of what white households make (an astonishing divide, btw, far larger than the national difference), so i think it's very safe to say that any black households in Chicago making $50 - 100K would fall squarely into chicago's "black middle class", and that's precisely the group that's currently experiencing the largest population drop, hence the headline.
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Old Posted Oct 5, 2019, 1:44 AM
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This oldie but goodie seems appropriate...

Affluent local white man enjoys, causes the blues

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.the...1819565488/amp
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Old Posted Oct 5, 2019, 3:18 AM
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Why is keeping black people in Chicago important?

Please don’t take this in any negative way, but why not ask the question?

Cities are great because they change. They are dynamic, and the needs of their communities evolve in a changing world, and people move on.

If people are voting with their feet, they are voting with their feet. Best encourage other groups to occupy the real estate that they left behind, instead of holding on to the past.
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Old Posted Oct 5, 2019, 3:40 AM
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Yes, this seems like part of a larger trend; moderate to low income residents move out and higher income residents move in. The article states that higher income blacks are moving in but not at the pace that lower income blacks are leaving. Maybe in the future when the population lost stabilizes the number of higher income blacks might reach a critical mass similar. The problem though is the it's harder to get to that critical mass or grow it when black people don't feel comfortable putting down roots and staying here. In my anecdotal experience Chicago is usually a stopping point for professional blacks before they move to more welcoming cities. Maybe we need to shed low income residents in general but why are we ok with black professionals choosing DC or ATL or NYC over Chicago? The significance though, is that black culture and black people have been very important to the history and development of Chicago. Cities in general are great because they are diverse and inclusive. I agree with the sentiment expressed in the article that it often feels like there is no place for blacks in Chicago. In that, I mean, it often feels like the City doesn't view black neighborhoods as important or vital and other groups view blacks as undesirable at best. I think if a similar exodus was taking place in DC or ATL alarm bells would be ringing.

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Originally Posted by the urban politician View Post
Why is keeping black people in Chicago important?

Please don’t take this in any negative way, but why not ask the question?

Cities are great because they change. They are dynamic, and the needs of their communities evolve in a changing world, and people move on.

If people are voting with their feet, they are voting with their feet. Best encourage other groups to occupy the real estate that they left behind, instead of holding on to the past.
Here is a counter-narrative for you directly, is it important to keep white people in Chicago?

Last edited by UPChicago; Oct 5, 2019 at 4:05 AM.
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Old Posted Oct 5, 2019, 3:48 AM
the urban politician the urban politician is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UPChicago View Post
This seems like this is part of a larger trend of moderate to low income people of all races leaving Chicago and higher income people moving in. The article states that higher income black people are moving in. Maybe in the future that will reach a critical mass similar to DC's black professional class. The significance though, is that black culture has been very important to the history and development of Chicago and cities in general are great because they are diverse and inclusive.

Here is a counter-narrative for you directly, is it important to keep white people in Chicago?
I think a city should try to appeal to people whom global and local economic forces are going to make it possible for them to appeal to.

Cities like Chicago no longer make sense for black families earning below $100k. Nothing any Mayor is going to do is likely to change that. But it still can be appealing to higher income folks of all ethnic groups, young singles/couples, and immigrants who work in certain trades and who don’t tend to live in neighborhoods being terrorized on a daily basis by gang activity.
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Old Posted Oct 5, 2019, 4:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by the urban politician View Post
Why is keeping black people in Chicago important?

Please don’t take this in any negative way, but why not ask the question?

Cities are great because they change. They are dynamic, and the needs of their communities evolve in a changing world, and people move on.

If people are voting with their feet, they are voting with their feet. Best encourage other groups to occupy the real estate that they left behind, instead of holding on to the past.
It's a fair question.

Perhaps the concern isn't about retaining black residents per se, but rather, about what happens if the city cannot retain current residents (who happen to be black) and nobody is there to replace them.
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Old Posted Oct 5, 2019, 6:42 AM
JoeMusashi JoeMusashi is offline
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Black people temporarily moved north for jobs during the Great Migration and are now moving back to where they are culturally native to in this country. It seems natural to me. Northern cities, for all their progressive bluster, have been miserable places for blacks. To top this off the long winters and cold weather is probably not ideal for those with sub-Saharan backgrounds. Why wouldn't they ditch Chicago and New York for Atlanta? White Americans have done this for decades moving to the Sun Belt--why not black Americans?
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Old Posted Oct 5, 2019, 7:40 AM
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So long as the Winslows and Urkels stay there, I'm fine. Family matters.
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Old Posted Oct 5, 2019, 4:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by the urban politician View Post
Why is keeping black people in Chicago important?

Please don’t take this in any negative way, but why not ask the question?

Cities are great because they change. They are dynamic, and the needs of their communities evolve in a changing world, and people move on.

If people are voting with their feet, they are voting with their feet. Best encourage other groups to occupy the real estate that they left behind, instead of holding on to the past.
Would a Chicago without black people be a world class city?
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Old Posted Oct 5, 2019, 4:49 PM
MalcolmTucker MalcolmTucker is offline
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The racial component of this is a Chicago issue of course, but all cities with high income growth are having similar issues - is it a function of a long term underinvestment in transportation across the USA (Canada too), while at the same time limiting new housing where there is transportation access, making even closer proximity highly valuable to access the amenities of the city (jobs, culture).
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Old Posted Oct 5, 2019, 6:05 PM
the urban politician the urban politician is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MalcolmTucker View Post
The racial component of this is a Chicago issue of course, but all cities with high income growth are having similar issues - is it a function of a long term underinvestment in transportation across the USA (Canada too), while at the same time limiting new housing where there is transportation access, making even closer proximity highly valuable to access the amenities of the city (jobs, culture).
I don’t understand why people keep arguing this angle, namely that lack of transportation access to jobs is why black people are leaving.

People are leaving, and it has nothing to do with concerns that there isn’t a train that can get them downtown. It’s time to expire this explanation.
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Old Posted Oct 5, 2019, 6:15 PM
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I see a lot of black people with IL plates around here. A lot. So I guess we're a major destination of Chicago's black middle class.
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Old Posted Oct 5, 2019, 6:20 PM
MalcolmTucker MalcolmTucker is offline
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Originally Posted by the urban politician View Post
I don’t understand why people keep arguing this angle, namely that lack of transportation access to jobs is why black people are leaving.

People are leaving, and it has nothing to do with concerns that there isn’t a train that can get them downtown. It’s time to expire this explanation.
Isn't the crux that people are being priced out? They are being priced out because others find it highly desireable to live near Chicago and transportation to where they want to go in Chicago. The effect is indirect - they aren't leaving because they can't get to downtown, they are being priced out because others can't get downtown from enough places fast enough.
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Old Posted Oct 5, 2019, 6:34 PM
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I don't think they are being priced out, at least not in the traditional sense. They just aren't able to ascend any further and the social environment in the far south side keeps getting worse. Alot of Chicago homeowners are still underwater on their mortgages and much of the city has barely recovered. Of the county's 10 largest cities, Chicago has the highest rate of underwater mortgages, almost 14% of all homeowners in the city. By comparison, NYC is half that at about 6.5 percent. Illinois as a whole had the fifth highest foreclosure rate last quarter. There are tons of northside properties too that are barely priced higher than they were 15 years ago. A huge inventory mixed with high taxes, high hoas = bad news...i dont know much about the CHA situation but thats an interesting take on the situation.
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Last edited by pdxtex; Oct 5, 2019 at 7:24 PM.
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Old Posted Oct 5, 2019, 9:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MalcolmTucker View Post
Isn't the crux that people are being priced out? They are being priced out because others find it highly desireable to live near Chicago and transportation to where they want to go in Chicago. The effect is indirect - they aren't leaving because they can't get to downtown, they are being priced out because others can't get downtown from enough places fast enough.
Considering the middle class blacks are being replaced by low income blacks, I highly doubt they're being priced out. The South Side of Chicago is still mostly heading in the opposite direction from gentrification - it's declining. Middle class black neighbourhoods turn into low income black neighbourhoods, which become run down, and have homes go vacant and abandoned and lose population.
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Old Posted Oct 5, 2019, 9:47 PM
the urban politician the urban politician is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MalcolmTucker View Post
Isn't the crux that people are being priced out? They are being priced out because others find it highly desireable to live near Chicago and transportation to where they want to go in Chicago. The effect is indirect - they aren't leaving because they can't get to downtown, they are being priced out because others can't get downtown from enough places fast enough.
No, this is not it at all.

Gentrification is not pushing lower and middle income black people out of Chicago. The job market, taxes, and criminal gang activity are.

They don’t want to get shot by some POS gangster who just got out of jail because Kim Foxx doesn’t think that repeat gun offenses warrant being held without bond. I sure as hell would bail from Englewood if I were raising a family there too.

The story we are hearing about black Chicagoans blaming whites is really just about scoring political points for elected officials. The real story is about movement. People are quietly moving the hell out of here—that says more than words. They are fed up with the crime and the shootings, along with of course the taxes, etc and aren’t sticking around to complain about it. That is the real story.
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Old Posted Oct 5, 2019, 9:55 PM
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Considering the middle class blacks are being replaced by low income blacks, I highly doubt they're being priced out. The South Side of Chicago is still mostly heading in the opposite direction from gentrification - it's declining. Middle class black neighbourhoods turn into low income black neighbourhoods, which become run down, and have homes go vacant and abandoned and lose population.
Much of the loss of blacks in Chicago is media driven, people hear people are leaving, they hear better opportunities elsewhere, and they leave thinking if the press is saying it then it must be true. Its called a herd mentality. What happens then is they move to these so- called utopian cities, Atlanta, Houston, Charlotte, etc.. and many find the same problems, high -crime, traffic, racial env. etc.. that they faced in Chicago, without the many pluses of Chicago. True some have met success, but many blacks I know personally who are disappointed in their moves to other cities and some have returned. All things are cyclical, and more than not the grass may be greener on the other side but you still have to cut it. As a black who moved to Chicago and love it, you just have to be tough and resilient, you can make it as good here as anywhere.
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