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The Negro in IllinoisThe WPA Papers$
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Brian Dolinar

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780252037696

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252037696.001.0001

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(p.156) 19. Houses
The Negro in Illinois

Arna Bontemps

University of Illinois Press

This chapter discusses the rent strikes staged by Illinois Negroes with the help of Unemployed Councils in the early years of the Great Depression to resist evictions from the Chicago South Side. Chicago suffered during the depression which began in 1929, and the ill effects of the crisis were graphically reflected in the housing situation. Finding rents hard to collect, many owners agreed to condemnation and demolition of rundown houses as the cheapest way out. This chapter examines the alliance between militant Negroes and neighborhood Unemployed Councils in 1930 to fight Negro evictions from the South Side, culminating in riots on August 3, 1931. It also considers a few bright spots with regards to the Negro housing picture in Illinois, citing the high rate of home ownership among Negroes in Chicago; the provisions made in the State Housing Act in 1933 for the creation of the Illinois State Housing Board; and the completion of the Ida B. Wells Homes, a project built expressly for the colored citizens of Chicago, in 1941.

Keywords:   rent strikes, Illinois, Negroes, Unemployed Councils, Great Depression, evictions, Chicago South Side, housing, rents, riots

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