Friday, August 09, 2013

The problem with diffusing the families in community housing... and unintended consequences?

Though the unintended consequence may be more accurately described as the failed policies of community housing. I find the idea of community housing puzzling. Dumping the poor in poorly maintained city owned housing where they have no roots or ownership closer to downtown city locations in hopes this gives them access to better jobs seems like an exercise in lunacy.

The US created "Section8" vouchers to give families the opportunity to move out of these ghettos. The problem, however, is that it has resulted in diffusing/exporting the effects of prolonged dependence and the related crime into other neighborhoods (theAtlantic):

Studies show that recipients of Section8 vouchers have tended to choose moderately poor neighborhoods that were already on the decline, not low-poverty neighborhoods. One recent study publicized by HUD warned that policy makers should lower their expectations, because voucher recipients seemed not to be spreading out, as they had hoped, but clustering together. Galster theorizes that every neighborhood has its tipping point—a threshold well below a 40 percent poverty rate—beyond which crime explodes and other severe social problems set in. Pushing a greater number of neighborhoods past that tipping point is likely to produce more total crime. In 2003, the Brookings Institution published a list of the 15 cities where the number of high-poverty neighborhoods had declined the most. In recent years, most of those cities have also shown up as among the most violent in the U.S., according to FBI data.
I don't think anyone is suggesting however that ghettos are the better alternative. The article from 2008 in the Atlantic points to social support to help families adapt - and in many cases they do. That limited intervention seems a small price to pay for the cycle of "support" that has created the culture of despair in the first place (and this isn't to say that governments are in the best position for reintegration - perhaps a good opportunity to use social bonds?)

No comments: