Contracting Public Policy to Uproot and Rebuild Job Deficient Minority Populated Neighborhoods
For years, the spatial structure of minority neighborhoods and the proximity to jobs and education have been shaped by economic forces and public policy. Public policy that is now more inconspicuously racist once had more explicit racial tones before. These former policies and legislation left a racial shadow on neighborhoods due to the relatively slow change in neighborhoods and urban decay. Old public policies like government-backed redlining and the approval of restrictive racial covenants and racial violence and intimidation have long outlasted these practices in the form of our current segregated living patterns (Galster, 2012; Massey and Denton, 1993; Sampson, 2012; Sharkey, 2013; Sugrue, 1996; Wilson, 1987). The racial shadow looms even still with evidence in how racial discrimination persists in household residential housing preferences (Charles, 2005; Clark, 1992; Galster, 1988) and actions by real estate agents and other actors in the housing search process, while various levels of government have limited power, resources, and will to combat these actions (Munnell et al., 1996; Turner and Ross, 2005; Yinger, 1997). Neighborhoods like Brooklyn’s Canarsie saw examples of this racial housing deterrence. During the 1960s, African Americans who sought to buy homes in the quiet suburb of Canarsie were deterred by the concerted efforts of sellers to keep them out of the local housing market. (Forde, Donnie F. 2002.)
The government’s answer to keeping minorities out of the suburbs can be seen in Chicago’s Housing Authority. Chicago’s low-income high-rise had come under a number of lawsuits for the deplorable conditions the neighborhood incubated (Rubinowitz and Rosenbaum, 2000). Former residents spoke of “dangerous and frightening incidents that occurred regularly on the streets of their inner-city neighborhoods” (Rubinowitz and Rosenbaum, 2000). Criminal victimization rates were twice as high among Chicago public housing tenants than in the city as a whole (Keels et al, 2005). High crime rates result in a low chance of obtaining local employment and if there is and poor educational institutions. In The Truly Disadvantaged (Wilson. 1987) calls these place “jobless ghettos” and name them the main reason for the deplorable social conditions. He argued that the disappearance of work in the low-skilled economy has been particularly devastating in US central cities. The government, in short, created a social capital desert for these minorities.
Canarsie and Chicago’s Housing Authority minorities’, once surrounded by a fence of public policy, along the way, both documented public policy change that helped minorities out of these conditions. Local government in Canarsie looked to push integration by creating a Breukelen Housing Projects for both minority and white veterans, and in December 27th, 1951, city officials welcomed the first two families to be admitted into the housing project, negro, and white. (New York Times. 1951). This show of integration later poured unto the neighboring residential streets and minorities in Canarsie were able to break the redline and have homeownership in Canarsie. (Rieder, Jonathan, Canarsie).
In Chicago’s Housing Authority complexes, what came-to were a number of lawsuits that brought light to the deplorable conditions and it pushed public officials to make a change for the people that lived in these housings. The Gautreaux program was created in 1976 as an answer to these lawsuits. The program offered minority families in CHA the opportunity to move to mostly white neighborhoods (Rubinowitz and Rosenbaum, 2000). The program moved more than 7000 families between 1976 and 1988(Keels et al., 2005). After moving, the participants of the
program reported that they were less fearful of crime, they experienced positive employment outcomes and their children had substantial schooling improvements. (Rosenbaum, 1995).
Improvement in local public policy in these two areas was simple but effective. It is not relatively hard to change deplorable social conditions in US cities, just as they were created and influenced by public policy, they can be undone with it also.
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CORNERSTONE LAID AT HARLEM HOUSING; $21,000,000 St. Nicholas Slum Clearance Project to Get First Tenants in Spring ROOM FOR 1,523 FAMILIES Ceremonies are Recorded for Foreign Broadcast as an Example of Democracy Sees 25,000 Rehoused Here First Tenants in Breukelen.” New York Times. December 28, 1951.
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