Sudhir Alladi VENKATESH Harvard University Press, 2000 Library of Congress HD7288.78.U52C476 2000 | Dewey Decimal 363.5850977311
High-rise public housing developments were signature features of the post-World War II city. A hopeful experiment in providing temporary, inexpensive housing for all Americans, the "projects" soon became synonymous with the black urban poor, with isolation and overcrowding, with drugs, gang violence, and neglect. As the wrecking ball brings down some of these concrete monoliths, Sudhir Venkatesh seeks to reexamine public housing from the inside out, and to salvage its troubled legacy.
Now considered a dysfunctional mess, Chicago’s public housing projects once had long waiting lists of would-be residents hoping to leave the slums behind. So what went wrong? To answer this complicated question, D. Bradford Hunt traces public housing’s history in Chicago from its New Deal roots through current mayor Richard M. Daley’s Plan for Transformation. In the process, he chronicles the Chicago Housing Authority’s own transformation from the city’s most progressive government agency to its largest slumlord.
Challenging explanations that attribute the projects’ decline primarily to racial discrimination and real estate interests, Hunt argues that well-intentioned but misguided policy decisions—ranging from design choices to maintenance contracts—also paved the road to failure. Moreover, administrators who fully understood the potential drawbacks did not try to halt such deeply flawed projects as Cabrini-Green and the Robert Taylor Homes. These massive high-rise complexes housed unprecedented numbers of children but relatively few adults, engendering disorder that pushed out the working class and, consequently, the rents needed to maintain the buildings. The resulting combination of fiscal crisis, managerial incompetence, and social unrest plunged the CHA into a quagmire from which it is still struggling to emerge.
Blueprint for Disaster, then,is an urgent reminder of the havoc poorly conceived policy can wreak on our most vulnerable citizens.
From 1976 to 1998, the Gautreaux Assisted Housing Program moved over 7,000 low-income black families from Chicago's inner city to middle-class white suburbs—the largest and longest-running residential, racial, and economic integration effort in American history. Crossing the Class and Color Lines is the story of that project, from the initial struggles and discomfort of the relocated families to their eventual successes in employment and education—cementing the sociological concept of the "neighborhood effect" and shattering the myth that inner-city blacks cannot escape a "culture of poverty."
"This book's history of Chicago public housing should be required reading for anyone interested in social policy in the United States."—Jens Ludwig, Social Service Review
"[The authors'] work is rightly cited as one of the important precedents in the field. . . . This is a remarkable, unassailable accomplishment and this book is an important record of their scholarly contribution."—John M. Goering, Ethnic and Racial Studies
In the early 1980s the tenant leaders of the New Orleans St. Thomas public housing development and their activist allies were militant, uncompromising defenders of the city’s public housing communities. Yet ten years later these same leaders became actively involved in a planning effort to privatize and downsize their community—an effort that would drastically reduce the number of affordable apartments. What happened? John Arena—a longtime community and labor activist in New Orleans—explores this drastic change in Driven from New Orleans, exposing the social disaster visited on the city’s black urban poor long before the natural disaster of Katrina magnified their plight.
Arena argues that the key to understanding New Orleans’s public housing transformation from public to private is the co-optation of grassroots activists into a government and foundation-funded nonprofit complex. He shows how the nonprofit model created new political allegiances and financial benefits for activists, moving them into a strategy of insider negotiations that put the profit-making agenda of real estate interests above the material needs of black public housing residents. In their turn, white developers and the city’s black political elite embraced this newfound political “realism” because it legitimized the regressive policies of removing poor people and massively downsizing public housing, all in the guise of creating a new racially integrated, “mixed-income” community.
In tracing how this shift occurred, Driven from New Orleans reveals the true nature, and the true cost, of reforms promoted by an alliance of a neoliberal government, nonprofits, community activists, and powerful real estate interests.
From the almshouses of seventeenth-century Puritans to the massive housing projects of the mid-twentieth century, the struggle over housing assistance in the United States has exposed a deep-seated ambivalence about the place of the urban poor. Lawrence J. Vale's groundbreaking book is both a comprehensive institutional history of public housing in Boston and a broader examination of the nature and extent of public obligation to house socially and economically marginal Americans during the past 350 years.
First, Vale highlights startling continuities both in the way housing assistance has been delivered to the American poor and in the policies used to reward the nonpoor. He traces the stormy history of the Boston Housing Authority, a saga of entrenched patronage and virulent racism tempered, and partially overcome, by the efforts of unyielding reformers. He explores the birth of public housing as a program intended to reward the upwardly mobile working poor, details its painful transformation into a system designed to cope with society's least advantaged, and questions current policy efforts aimed at returning to a system of rewards for responsible members of the working class. The troubled story of Boston public housing exposes the mixed motives and ideological complexity that have long characterized housing in America, from the Puritans to the projects.
Since the late 1970s, the high-rise developments of the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) have been dominated by gang violence and drugs, creating a sense of hopelessness among residents. Despite a lengthy war on crime, costing hundreds of millions of dollars, the CHA has been unable to reduce the violence that makes life intolerable. Focusing on three developments—Rockwell Gardens, Henry Horner Homes, and Harold Ickes Homes—Sue Popkin and her co-authors interview residents, community leaders, and CHA staff. The Hidden War chronicles the many failed efforts of the CHA to combat crime and improve its developments, offering a vivid portrait of what life is like when lived among bullets, graffiti, and broken plumbing.
Most families living in these developments are headed by African American single mothers. The authors reveal the dilemmas facing women and children who are often victims or witnesses of violent crime, and yet are dependent on the perpetrators and their drug-dominant economy. The CHA—plagued by financial scandals, managerial incompetence, and inconsistent funding—is no match for thegang-dominated social order. Even well-intentioned initiatives such as the recent effort to demolish and “revitalize” the worst developments seem to be ineffective at combating crime, while the drastic changes leave many vulnerable families facing an uncertain future. The Hidden War sends a humbling message to policy makers and prognosticators who claim to know the right way to “solve poverty.”
In recent years, community policing has transformed American law enforcement by promising to build trust between citizens and officers. Today, three-quarters of American police departments claim to embrace the strategy. But decades before the phrase was coined, the New York City Housing Authority Police Department (HAPD) had pioneered community-based crime-fighting strategies.
The Last Neighborhood Cops reveals the forgotten history of the residents and cops who forged community policing in the public housing complexes of New York City during the second half of the twentieth century. Through a combination of poignant storytelling and historical analysis, Fritz Umbach draws on buried and confidential police records and voices of retired officers and older residents to help explore the rise and fall of the HAPD's community-based strategy, while questioning its tactical effectiveness. The result is a unique perspective on contemporary debates of community policing and historical developments chronicling the influence of poor and working-class populations on public policy making.
During the 1990s, Los Angeles - like many other cities across America - began demolishing public housing projects that had come to symbolize decades of failed urban policies. But public housing was not always regarded with such disdain. In the years surrounding World War II, it had been a popular New Deal program, viewed as a force for positive social change and supported by a broad coalition of civic, labor, religious, and community organizations. Socially conscious architects and planners developed innovative and livable projects that embodied the latest theories in urban design. With sharp historical perspective, Making a Better World traces the rise and fall of a public housing ethic in Los Angeles and its impact on the city's built environment. In the caustic political atmosphere of Joseph McCarthy's America, public housing opponents accused the city's housing authority of communist infiltration, effectively eliminating the left from debates over the city's development. In place of public housing, conservative forces promoted a pro-private growth agenda that redefined urban renewal and reshaped modern Los Angeles. No conventional public housing projects have been constructed in Los Angeles since 1955. In this era of skyrocketing housing prices, especially in urban areas, Don Parson's examination not only gives us the recent history of a city, but also opens up a new debate on a current national crisis in providing shelter for low-income Americans.
Chicago seems an ideal environment for public housing because of the city’s relatively young age among major cities and well-deserved reputation for technology, innovation, and architecture. Yet The Poorhouse: Subsidized Housing in Chicago shows that the city’s experience on the whole has been a negative one, raising serious questions about the nature of subsidized housing and whether we should have it and, if so, in what form.
Bowly, a native of the city, provides a detailed examination of subsidized housing in the nation’s third-largest city. Now in its second edition, The Poorhouse looks at the history of public housing and subsidized housing in Chicago from 1895 to the present day. Five new chapters that cover the decline and federal takeover of the Chicago Housing Authority, and its more recent “transformation,” which involved the demolition of the CHA family high-rise buildings and in some cases their replacement with low-risemixed income housing on the same sites. Fifty new photos supplement this edition.
Certificate of Excellence from the Illinois State Historical Society, 2013
The building and management of public housing is often seen as a signal failure of American public policy, but this is a vastly oversimplified view. In Purging the Poorest, Lawrence J. Vale offers a new narrative of the seventy-five-year struggle to house the “deserving poor.”
In the 1930s, two iconic American cities, Atlanta and Chicago, demolished their slums and established some of this country’s first public housing. Six decades later, these same cities also led the way in clearing public housing itself. Vale’s groundbreaking history of these “twice-cleared” communities provides unprecedented detail about the development, decline, and redevelopment of two of America’s most famous housing projects: Chicago’s Cabrini-Green and Atlanta’s Techwood /Clark Howell Homes. Vale offers the novel concept of design politics to show how issues of architecture and urbanism are intimately bound up in thinking about policy. Drawing from extensive archival research and in-depth interviews, Vale recalibrates the larger cultural role of public housing, revalues the contributions of public housing residents, and reconsiders the role of design and designers.
On May 8, 1959, the evening news shocked Los Angeles residents, who saw LA County sheriffs carrying a Mexican American woman from her home in Chavez Ravine not far from downtown. Immediately afterward, the house was bulldozed to the ground. This violent act was the last step in the forced eviction of 3,500 families from the unique hilltop barrio that in 1962 became the home of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
John H. M. Laslett offers a new interpretation of the Chavez Ravine tragedy, paying special attention to the early history of the barrio, the reform of Los Angeles's destructive urban renewal policies, and the influence of the evictions on the collective memory of the Mexican American community.
In addition to examining the political decisions made by power brokers at city hall, Shameful Victory argues that the tragedy exerted a much greater influence on the history of the Los Angeles civil rights movement than has hitherto been appreciated. The author also sheds fresh light on how the community grew, on the experience of individual home owners who were evicted from the barrio, and on the influence that the event had on the development of recent Chicano/a popular music, drama, and literature.
Showdown in Desire portrays the Black Panther Party in New Orleans in 1970, a year that included a shootout with the police on Piety Street, the creation of survival programs, and the daylong standoff between the Panthers and the police in the Desire housing development. Through interviews with Malik Rahim, the Panther; Robert H. King, Panther and member of the Angola 3; Larry Preston Williams, the black policeman; Moon Landrieu, the mayor; Henry Faggen, the Desire resident; Robert Glass, the white lawyer; Jerome LeDoux, the black priest; William Barnwell, the white priest; and many others, Orissa Arend tells a nuanced story that unfolds amid guns, tear gas, desperate poverty, oppression, and inflammatory rhetoric to capture the palpable spirit of rebellion, resistance, and revolution of an incendiary summer in New Orleans.
The archaeology of four New Orleans neighborhoods that were replaced by public housing projects
Uprooted: Race, Public Housing, and the Archaeology of Four Lost New Orleans Neighborhoods uses archaeological research on four neighborhoods that were razed during the construction of public housing in World War II–era New Orleans. Although each of these neighborhoods was identified as a “slum” historically, the material record challenges the simplicity of this designation. D. Ryan Gray provides evidence of the inventiveness of former residents who were marginalized by class, color, or gender and whose everyday strategies of survival, subsistence, and spirituality challenged the city’s developing racial and social hierarchies.
These neighborhoods initially appear to have been quite distinct, ranging from the working-class Irish Channel, to the relatively affluent Creole of Color–dominated Lafitte area, to the former location of Storyville, the city’s experiment in semilegal prostitution. Archaeological and historical investigations suggest that race was the crucial factor in the areas’ selection for clearance. Each neighborhood manifested a particular perceived racial disorder, where race intersected with ethnicity, class, or gender in ways that defied the norms of Jim Crow segregation.
Gray’s research makes use of both primary documents—including census records, city directories, and even the brothel advertising guides called “Blue Books”—and archaeological data to examine what this entailed at a variety of scales, reconstructing narratives of the households and communities affected by clearance. Public housing, both in New Orleans and elsewhere, imposed a new kind of control on urban life that had the effect of making cities both more segregated and less equal. The story of the neighborhoods that were destroyed provides a reminder that their erasure was not an inevitable outcome, and that a more equitable and just city is still possible today. A critical examination of the rise of public housing helps inform the ongoing debates over its demise, especially in light of the changing face of post-Katrina New Orleans.
Winner, 2006 The American Lawyer Lifetime Achievement Award
On his thirty-ninth birthday in 1966, Alexander Polikoff, a volunteer ACLU attorney and partner in a Chicago law firm, met some friends to discuss a pro bono case. Over lunch, the four talked about the Chicago Housing Authority construction program. All the new public housing, it seemed, was going into black neighborhoods. If discrimination was prohibited in public schools, wasn't it also prohibited in public housing?
And so began Gautreaux v. CHA and HUD, a case that from its rocky beginnings would roll on year after year, decade after decade, carrying Polikoff and his colleagues to the nation's Supreme Court (to face then-solicitor general Robert Bork); establishing precedents for suits against the discriminatory policies of local housing authorities, often abetted by HUD; and setting the stage for a nationwide experiment aimed at ending the concentration--and racialization--of poverty through public housing. Sometimes Kafkaesque, sometimes simply inspiring, and never less than absorbing, the story of Gautreaux, told by its principal lawyer, moves with ease through local and national civil rights history, legal details, political matters, and the personal costs--and rewards--of a commitment to fairness, equality, and justice. Both the memoir of a dedicated lawyer, and the narrative of a tenacious pursuit of equality, this story--itself a critical, still-unfolding chapter in recent American history--urges us to take an essential step in ending the racial inequality that Alexis de Toqueville prophetically named America's "most formidable evil."
In The War on Slums in the Southwest, Robert Fairbanks provides compelling and probing case studies of economic problems and public housing plights in Albuquerque, Dallas, Houston, Phoenix and San Antonio. He provides brief histories of each city--all of which expanded dynamically between 1935 and 1965--and how they responded to slums under the Housing Acts of 1937, 1949, and 1954.
Despite being a region where conservative politics has ruled, these Southwestern cities often handled population growth, urban planning, and economic development in ways that closely followed the national account of efforts to eliminate slums and provide public housing for the needy. The War on Slums in the Southwest therefore corrects some misconceptions about the role of slum clearance and public housing in this region as Fairbanks integrates urban policy into the larger understanding of federal and state-based housing policies.
Collecting seventy-nine oral histories from former public housing residents and staff, J. S. Fuerst's When Public Housing Was Paradise is a powerful testament to the fact that well-designed, well-managed low-rent housing has worked, as well as a demonstration of how it could be made to work again.
J. S. Fuerst has been involved with public housing in Chicago for more than half a century. He retired from Loyola University, where he was a professor of social welfare policy. He was the editor of Public Housing in Europe and America. D. Bradford Hunt is an assistant professor of social science at Roosevelt University. John Hope Franklin is James B. Duke Professor Emeritus of History at Duke University. He has served as president of the Organization of American Historians, the American Historical Association, and many more.