The Next City:
"Raising Their Voices Together, Underserved Neighborhoods in New Orleans Get Heard
Nathan C. Martin. February 12, 2014
The floodwaters receding from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina not only left a destroyed city in their wake, but also an uncertain power vacuum. The government’s inept response on every level opened space for entities whose motivations spanned the spectrum, from goodwill to greed, to fill the vacuum and determine the trajectory of the city’s future.
The setting was ripe for disaster capitalists and others to move in and influence rebuilding efforts while the city’s most important stakeholders — its residents — remained largely dispersed and traumatized. More than eight years after the storm, one can see evidence of this in the closed Charity Hospital, the first school system in the country comprised entirely of charters, the closure and demolition of all New Orleans’ major public housing projects and an overall schema that tends to yield fruit to post-Katrina transplants while entrenching historical inequity that cuts along lines of class and race.”
Photo: The Neighborhood Partnership Network helps amplify the voices of disenfranchised neighborhoods like Treme (above). Infrogmation of New Orleans via Flickr
The Atlantic Cities:
"How San Francisco Is Trying to Reinvent the Housing Project
Sophie Novack. Feb 5 2014
To make sure kids in her neighborhood go to school, Uzuri Pease-Greene walks them herself. Outfitted in bright yellow vests, she and her daughter begin their half-mile route at 7:30 each morning, stopping to pick up nine to 17 kids along the way. Forty minutes later, they arrive at Daniel Webster Elementary School in time for the school-provided breakfast.
"Once they get with me, it’s like, ‘You’re my child now,’" the no-nonsense 48-year-old grandmother of 13 says, with a laugh. "I become a big mother."
Pease-Greene is the “driver” of the walking school bus, a Hope SF initiative in the Potrero Hill public-housing development in San Francisco, where she’s lived for 12 years. In a community where 53 percent of kids are chronically absent from school, the simple program aims to improve educational outcomes, increase safety, and encourage exercise.
Hope SF is a project dedicated to revitalizing low-income areas by rebuilding old housing projects and offering a range of social services to the mostly low-income residents. It is led by the Mayor’s Office of Housing and the San Francisco Housing Authority, in collaboration with government, philanthropic, and community partners. The goal is to transform a handful of severely underserved and aging public-housing sites, without forcing out current residents. Potentially, it provides a model to other urban areas, which are looking to revamp public housing while retaining cities’ socioeconomic mix of residents.”
"Housing Demolition and the Right to Place
by Tony Roshan Samara
There is no small irony in the fact that the most notable achievement of affordable housing policy in the United States over the past two decades has been the systematic demolition of affordable housing stock. To understand this upside-down world of housing politics, at least as it collides with the lives of the urban poor, we have to understand the moral panic that has developed around the concept of concentrated poverty. Over time, this panic has hardened into a consensus among the urban policy elite. For its members, most if not all social ills associated with cities and poverty stem from too many poor people being gathered in one place.”
Photo: Cochran Gardens in St. Louis, demolished 2008. Source: Wikimedia Commons
The Atlantic Cities:
“How Crummy, Run-Down Housing Harms the Children Who Live in It
Emily Badger. Oct 24, 2013
The housing crisis sounded all kinds of alarms for policymakers and the public about what happens when families can’t afford their homes, or when they lose the stability that a secure home provides. We’ve heard about the effects of foreclosures on neighborhoods, the weight of housing stress on human health, the impact of lost equity on household wealth for huge portions of the U.S. population.
But something has been absent in all this talk about how unstable housing in any form affects families.
"The attention raised by the mortgage crisis and the foreclosure crisis really missed a lot of central aspects of housing that are likely to be important for children," says Rebekah Levine Coley, a professor in the Lynch School of Education at Boston College.
Notably, it’s the quality of housing – the presence of peeling paint or cockroaches, broken appliances or damaged walls – that most strongly predicts a child’s well-being and development.”
The Atlantic Cities:
“Moving Poor People Into a Neighborhood Doesn’t Cause Crime
Emily Badger. Aug 4, 2013
Beginning in the mid-1990s, the federal government shifted the way it subsidizes housing for the low-income. Out were mega-public housing projects like St. Louis’ Pruitt-Igoe andChicago’s Cabrini-Green. In were housing vouchers and tax credits designed to disperse people in need of housing help out of these infamous pockets of poverty.
Crime rates in cities across the country happened to be falling around this same time. But many communities far from places like Cabrini-Green feared that a program designed to disperse the poor would also disperse crime associated with them – and straight into more pristine neighborhoods. This idea has persisted for nearly 20 years. And it’s prominent among the objections often raised to adding subsidized housing into new neighborhoods and suburbs (see also: the schools will get overcrowded! The traffic will get worse! Everyone’s property value will fall!).
"Crime and violence-based fear is something that’s certainly been used very, very effectively for decades in this country," says Michael Lens, an assistant professor of urban planning at UCLA. “And many of our cities are certainly the worse for it in terms of land use and equitable neighborhood opportunity.”
The New York Times:
“A Housing Solution Gone Awry
Ginia Bellafante. June 1, 2013
In the early 1970s, the architect and city planner Oscar Newman came forth with a book and theory called “Defensible Space,” which relied in part on data from New York City public housing to propose a set of design solutions to the mounting problems of urban living.
The idealism of the ’60s extended to the notion that architecture in itself could engender meaningful social change, a belief now long out of circulation and perhaps never more so than at a time when the city’s civic leaders view development largely as bait for luring foreign capital.”
Photo: Todd Heisler/The New York Times
Study: CHA residents marginally better off than when living in high-rises
By Antonio Olivo. Chicago Tribune reporter, March 10, 2013
Public housing residents in Chicago are marginally better off today than when they lived in the high-rise towers that have since been torn down, though more social services are needed to prevent a backslide, a study scheduled to be released Monday finds.
Continuing problems with poverty and crime in their new neighborhoods point to a potentially dark future for many of those nearly 16,000 families, particularly children, the report by the Washington-based Urban Institute says..
"In the absence of a major intervention, most of these young people are likely to be mired in the same type of poverty as their parents, living in neighborhoods suffering from chronic disadvantage and cycling in and out of the workforce," the study says."
Photo: On July 31, 2012 a group gathered, including Mayor Rahm Emanuel, for a ceremony heralding the completion of the first stage of the new mixed-income Park Douglas apartments located on the corner of 13th Street and Washtenaw Avenue in Chicago. (Abel Uribe/ Chicago Tribune) (Abel Uribe / Chicago Tribune / July 31, 2012)
"NYCHA set to lease playgrounds, community centers for luxury high-rises
The housing authority hopes to generate nearly $50 million in lease payments that will be used to rejuvenate deteriorating housing projects and close $60 million annual deficit.
Greg B. Smith. Feb 5, 2013
The housing authority is planning its very own Tale of Two Cities.
To raise much-needed cash, the agency plans to lease out land to private developers who will then build some 3 million square feet of luxury apartments smack in the middle of Manhattan housing projects.
Internal documents obtained by the Daily News show the planned 4,330 apartments in eight developments are all in hot real estate neighborhoods, including the upper East and West Sides, the lower East Side and lower Manhattan.
Developers will get a sweet deal: a 99-year lease with the lease payments to the authority frozen for the first 35 years.
And they’ll get a big break on property taxes because 20% of the units will be set aside as “affordable,” offered to families of four that make $50,000 or less.
But the vast majority of units — 80% — are “market rate,” and in the neighborhoods chosen by the New York City Housing Authority, that rate is astronomical.”
Photo: Smith Houses tenant Association President Aixa Torres opposes the NYCHA plan to build luxury apartments on playgrounds, community centers and parking lots.
ANTHONY LANZILOTE/FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
NYCHA Plans Luxury Housing Alongside Five LES Public Housing Projects
The next big housing battle on the Lower East Side is upon us. In the past month, officials with the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) have been briefing elected officials and some tenant leaders about plans to lease a huge amount of property alongside public housing to private developers for market-rate apartments and retail. Last night, at a meeting of Community Board 3′s land use committee, activists began to mobilize against the proposal, one tenant leader saying in regards to NYCHA, “if you want a war you’ve got a war.”
The cash-strapped agency has been talking about selling or leasing some of its property for years. A 2008 report from the Manhattan Borough President found that the housing authority has more than 30 million square feet of unused property rights (including parking lots, playgrounds and open space). In September, NYCHA Chairman John Rhea signaled that he was preparing to move ahead with the leasing plan as a way of narrowing the authority’s annual $60 million budget gap.
Members of the City Council, including local representatives Margaret Chin and Rosie Mendez, have been told that NYCHA plans to put out a Request for Proposals (RFP) from developers next month. The Daily News obtained “internal documents” showing an initial offering of three million square feet “in hot real estate neighborhoods, including the upper East and West Sides, the lower East Side and lower Manhattan.”
Photo: via Alfred E. Smith Houses Facebook page.
The Atlantic Cities:
“Will Climate Change Alter the Geography of New York’s Public Housing?
Richard Greenwald. Jan 3, 2013
In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Sandy last October, a renewed public and journalistic focus on public housing emerged that left many questions unanswered. Writing on December 3 in The New York Times, Jonathan Mahler asked what might have been the most basic questionon people’s minds on the topic: “How is it possible that the same winding, 538-mile coastline that has recently been colonized by condominium developers chasing wealthy New Yorkers, themselves chasing waterfront views, had been, for decades, a catch basin for many of the city’s poorest residents?”
Mahler’s answer was a restatement of our common belief. “New York,” he wrote, “started building housing projects on the waterfront because that’s where its poorest citizens happened to live. It continued because that’s where space was most readily available. Finally, it built them there because that’s where its projects already were.”
But Mahler only finds half the answer. What really drove this process was the impact of early de-industrialization.”