Next month Richard M. Daley will end his multi-term as mayor of Chicago which began in 1989.  It would be real news if the Daley family moved from Chicago:  unlikely to happen.

But relocations of long time Chicagoans has been taking place since the closing and demolition of Chicago Housing Authority high-rise buildings, most of whose residents were African-American.  Cabrini-Green is now gone.  So, where has everyone gone?  The Chicago Tribune reported on a CHA study released this week which gives the answer.  Some of the answer.  3,500 families are unaccounted for in the study, and another 7,000 have dropped out of sight as far as CHA tracks them.  So, where are they?

This winter I heard Salvation Army personnel in the Heartland Division give anecdotal evidence of some CHA families moving into central Illinois.  Urbana.  Ottawa.  Springfield.  How significant are the numbers?  Don’t know.

But impact is taking place as Chicagoans, not only CHA residents, move out of the city. 

The US Census recorded a loss of 180,000 African-American Chicagoans in the past decade.  Coincidental?  The CHA report leads one to think so.

Which ever way one looks at it, there have been significant demographic shifts in Chicago in the last ten years.  As African-Americans move and move out, as Hispanic and Asian populations increase, as more areas of the city become unaffordable to low-income households (article on CHA lottery for low-income affordable housing).  And most dramatic, the overall population decline which has brought the city proper to pre-1920 population numbers.

We need to know as cities change.  For it’s likely we will also need to change how we serve.  This is the situation in many US cities, especially Midwestern ones.  For instance, Detroit, a famously shrinking city.  And growing cities, too, like Minneapolis/St Paul.