Don Wycliff '69 | November 19, 2015
Situated on Chicago’s Far West Side, miles from the glitter and beauty of the lakefront, the Magnificent Mile and the Loop, the Austin neighborhood has long been synonymous with racial isolation, poverty and disinvestment.
Almost nine of every 10 Austin residents are African American. According to the latest available figures from the City of Chicago and the U.S. Census Bureau, Austin has a per capita income just over half the citywide average, unemployment almost double the citywide average and a household poverty rate almost a third higher than the appalling citywide rate of nearly 19 percent. All this half a dozen years after the start of a recovery from the devastating economic collapse of 2008.
One local publication, lamenting Austin’s exclusion from a list of neighborhoods ticketed for extra attention and funding from City Hall, recently asked: “Is Austin Chicago’s Ugly Stepchild?”