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Evaluation of the Chicago Housing Authority's Anti-Drug Initiative: A Model of Comprehensive Crime Prevention in Public Housing

NCJ Number
Date Published
276 pages
The Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) devised its Anti-Drug Initiative (ADI) in response to severe drug and crime problems in public housing developments.
The ADI is a collaborative effort to improve public housing that involves the Chicago Police Department, CHA police, security guards, CHA management, social service providers, and residents. The ADI incorporates law enforcement, drug prevention and treatment, community crime prevention, and situational crime prevention (target hardening). A comprehensive evaluation of the ADI was conducted to assess program impacts in four areas: (1) resident perceptions of violent crime, drug use and sales, and other indicators of physical and social disorder; (2) levels of reported victimization and fear of crime; (3) resident sense of empowerment and control over the environment; and (4) resident awareness of ADI components and program effectiveness in reducing crime and disorder. A sample of nine buildings in three CHA family high-rise developments (Rockwell, Horner, and Ickes) was selected for the evaluation. Findings emphasized the severity of crime-related problems in the three public housing developments. Residents believed crime was a major problem inside and outside their buildings, with conditions outside being considered slightly worse. The magnitude of the crime problem, physical and social disorder, and victimization varied by development. Problems related to guns and violence clearly touched the lives of many residents, and victims often knew the perpetrators. The confidence of residents in their ability to work together to address crime and drug abuse dropped precipitously between May 1994 and January 1995 in the Rockwell and Horner developments, while feelings of residents in the Ickes development did not change. The performance of security guards proved to be a key element of the ADI's effectiveness in all developments. The Rockwell and Ickes developments had tenant patrols and most residents were aware of their activities. Crime sweeps continued throughout 1994, and the CHA began to phase in vertical police patrols in high-rise developments. Public housing management improvements produced more resident satisfaction with their buildings. Drug prevention and intervention services were provided by CADRE (Combatting Alcohol and Drugs Through Rehabilitation and Education) Centers. Services provided by each center varied but all included Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and programs for children. Residents who used the CADRE centers had positive views about the programs offered. Implications of the findings for research and policy are examined. Appendixes contain a study chronology, study forms and interview guides, and codebook definitions. References, tables, and figures

Date Published: January 1, 1995