Friday, November 03, 2006

Why Does Public Housing Fail?

When I was a child my grandmother lived in elderly housing, a whole complex of housing for senior citizens on limited incomes.

It may be stretching a point to compare a senior complex with a housing project like Heritage Heights or Sunset Hill but I think their basic function is the same. Just as housing for the elderly serves seniors with limited means, our housing projects are meant to serve or residents that our 'income challenged'.

I understand that there is a difference in demographics and the challenges they face. What I don't understand is why there is such a difference in environment.

But there is a drastic difference in the environment between the two. The complex that my grandmother lived in, even 20 years later, is still a nice, reasonably safe, pleasant place to live. That isn't the case with the our housing projects which are better known for crime and drugs than for their beauty or hospitality.

Why? What is it about public housing, or their clientele, that leads to such a break down in values, pride and respect?

I understand that there are people in public housing who come from tough backgrounds, but I don't understand the obstacles that keep them from bettering themselves.

We need to figure out how to make public housing work because public housing is supposed to be a 'leg up' for people who need it, not a corral for our poor and the need for it is not going to go away. Why do our housing projects fail?

I don't think I have the 'readership' to make this more than a rhetorical question but I welcome comments.


Dr. Momentum said...

I wish I knew enough about public housing to make any sort of intelligent contribution.

I don't know if there are lessons that can be taken from elderly housing, but it is certainly an interesting question and worth asking, considering the failures we've had in public housing.

Roger Williams said...

Senior citizens aren't exactly leading the way when it comes to committing crimes and dealing drugs. I don't know what the solution for improving security in public housing is, though, since the police presence at most housing projects is already fairly high, and many have dedicated housing authority police. Perhaps it's time for the National Guard!