Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Just Mah Two Cents

Maybe this will be a new segment: Just Mah Two Cents!

I'd like others' 2 cents on this too. A story in the T-P today about mixed-income housing brought this topic to mind. Folks should be pissed off that public housing hasn't reopened so they can come home; and HANO should have handled that much better. The apprehension and the skepticism towards promises is well-placed because promises to the poor and Black Americans have typically not been honored. People are afraid of losing their communities, their local support network, the familiarity. G Bitch wrote an excellent post about this and other public housing issues.

But I scratch my head when some folks oppose tearing down the projects to build mixed-income housing. Concentrated poverty, based on my opinion and observations, just doesn't seem to be a good idea. I think there is something beneficial for kids who grow up around professionals, college educated folks, etc. Those are the folks with connections to the scholarships, programs, internships that people need to succeed nowadays in many fields. Think of how many jobs you've found out about from a friend or colleague or from being in a certain organization. The more people that own homes around you, the more people there are who are invested in that neighborhood at a different level than people who rent; so there is more incentive to make sure that there are services, that street lights get fixed, that trash is picked up,etc..

There are a few experimental studies* that show that kids who moved to better neighborhoods did better in school, were more likely to go to college and less likely to be arrested than the kids in the control groups. There's also data to suggest that families who do move to "better" neighborhoods, Black families in particular, face a new set of problems like separation from support network, transportation issues, or social isolation because of race.

So i know there's no easy answer. This is a big issue and I can't put down all my thoughts about it today; but for me the bottomline is that we can't go back to the way housing was if the residents are going to have the same lack of resources and decent schools, and if their neighborhood is more neglected by the powers that be than other neighborhoods. Whatever the cause of crime or poverty or whatnot, I just haven't seen where big public housing developments have turned out to be a resounding success.

Should public housing residents be worried? Hells yes. But instead of opposing it all together, I think they should sit down with HANO and the developers and find ways to make this new way work and make sure the promises are kept. No matter how you look at it, most if not all of the old public housing units are old and shitty and need to be renewed anyway. I think there's much more for everybody to gain from cooperation in forging a better system than from having an all-or-nothing / don't-change-anything or tear-it-all down position.

So what's y'alls two cents?

*references on quasi-experimental or experimental neighborhood studies (Journal/Book is in CAPS):
  • Briggs (1997) "Moving up versus moving out: Neighborhood effects in policy mobility programs." HOUSING POLICY DEBATE, Vol. 8, pp. 195-234.
  • Rosenbaum, Kulieke, & Rubinowitz (1988). URBAN REVIEW, vol. 20, 28-41.
I can try to point people to more if you're like REAL psyched about reading this stuff. LOL


The Curator said...


I agree with your points, and I actually believe there's even more that can be done.

A few months ago, Majora Carter, Executive Director of Sustainable South Bronx, addressed a group of the top influencers in the technological field to sing the praises of sustainable development.

While I could explain the concept behind it, I think she would do a much better job than I possibly could.

Check this out...

EJ said...

THanks! I'll definitely take a look at it.