Are you sure you want to delete this post?
From my conservative old friend came an email. Unfortunately I've inadvertently deleted it.
The subject matter was some, I think federal (HUD?) proposal to establish housing facilities in
which individuals and/or families of various ethnicities, sexualities, religions, and economic levels
would live together. I believe the structural intent was not to re-create high-rise project-type
buildings, proven disastrous in all ways -- rather, clusters of conjoined dwellings with mini-
yards as one design -- perhaps "villages" of duplexes -- even buildings housing a half dozen
"occupant-units" (familial or other).
The intent is to remove socio-economic stigma by such residential-inclusion of all in one "region"
or "section". Further, the assumed influence of the mainstream-upper-class occupants would
be the most influential in determining behaviors of all occupants, including how they'd keep their
specific living unit as well as the shared areas of the place.
My friend taunted me, "So am I right you'd be one of the first to approve 'humanity-hash' as
equal opportunity-in-residence?" . . . . was the jist of his joust to me aIthough in my words here.
My reply rather surprised him -- that at least he and I agree on something.
Regarding a proposed housing program.
The first of the 212 reader responses, at the conclusion of the article, would be my first paragraph. in response to the reprint/email. She begins, "What crap!!".
The idea of "homogenizing" housing is at least inane, if not insane. Haven't the drastic demises of domiciles and demographics (epitomized by Detroit?) been demonstration . . . . that intermixing levels (of lineage and lucre) is the socio-economic antithesis of equalization (of stability and opportunity)?
From BedSty and Bronx, Roxbury and Mattapan, and many more "tragedies of good intentions"along the way, the traditional and overwhelming result of "environ-emplacement engineering" has been 1) the race (and low-economic-level) increment . . . . . catalyzing a binary race, ethnic as in "white flight" and evaluative as in property price plunge . . . to see which, the exodus or the devaluation, is the greater loss of former urban viability.
Empowerment is the answer. Not emplacement. Empowerment has been achieved in the worst-case barrios-scenarios schools where dress-code and enforced study and peer-pressures-programmed for academic achievement have resulted in slum-dog spic-kids ace-ing calculus class, and college acceptance levels far surpassing middle-class mainstream/cream-complexion venues.
Busing the "underprivileged" to suburban schools is "dis-empowerment" writ multiple: the inconvenience, the awareness of being "insurgent", but perhaps worst the juxtaposition of being a whole-life inner-city, minority being denied the educational facilities that must seem all but flaunted. "You may study at the plantation manor, but you'll not dwell in its precincts".
Empowerment seems to have been the answer as housing projects have been razed, the epic Mies-miseries of high-rise "cage-configuration" collapsing almost balletically under the control of Controlled Demolition (their website is astounding). At least in the Boston area, the three-floor, flat-top brick buildings have been replaced by varied-front "carpenter-style" or Victorian-inspired row-house units for
which means of ownership are provided. And even though drugs and crime are endemic still, the properties are kept up, little postage-stamp front plots manicured, flower boxes here on a rail, etc. Owning, thus at least accruing equity (if not hopefully some appreciation) is empowering.
The projects projected ethos, if not ethics, of an elite for whom a co-op or "loft" would be their property,even if leased or rented. Assuming someone whose heritage was a shack or less would assimilate value of an unrepaired and unpoliced and unprotected premise was a cruelty. Items I've read through the years have included the heartbreaking -- the lakes-view high-rise with balconies whose initial minority occupants were selected, and select . . . . and rejoiced unto God for the grace of such living conditions until the maintenance was cut-back and the non-select first moved, then squatted in where "black-flight" had begun until the whole hulk of building was a labyrinth of urine-stench hallways and apartment walls penetrated for addict mobility and . . . yes the ulterior motive for some of those early "emplacement" projects.
The building mentioned just above, some many stories with balconies facing out over the Great Lake,had been built with Federal funding. The agreement, as with probably thousands of other properties, was that it had to be subsidized-rented for so many years . . . .after which its absolute jurisdiction would be for the owner to determine. And in this case, the chain-link fencing that had kept at least most of the junkies and drunks and swarming kids from toppling over the balcony rails . . . was taken down. And the insides of the poured-concrete structure were gutted, plumbing and electrical replaced, fumigation and antiseptic heroics no doubt employed the while. Elevators replaced. And all's well that ends well for a lake-front high-rise high-rate condo conversion . . . . . funded by the finagle (and further frustration and fury) of "poor".
who, if any live there, are emplaced as "tokens", but thus the more dis-empowered.
The prime Boston-area example of long-range planned-desecration prelude was the Castle Island projects peninsula which eventually achieved infamy as "demographic black hole" (so to speak). Go in and you very well might never come back out. And after the years of its degeneration there was the interim of incremental encapsulation (or encasketation) in boarded windows . . . . until, suddenly the very metamorphosis into prime premise and price property. So, so close to U.Mass. campus!!! . .as well
as downtown boston.
The ultimate of idiocy regarding mass-housing for the ethnic- "underprivileged" was the idea of one of the most brilliant minds. An element was named after him. A strategic micro-component of materials-innovation also. The man, F. Buckminster Fuller. His idea for mass-scale housing?
"Old Man River's City". It's well worth looking it up. For damned sure fortunate that it was never built.
Another large Boston area was “The combat zone”, which degenerated from a fringe of Chinatown and main-street of vaudeville-then-movie-era-theaters to a warren of porn shops and strip clubs. The theaters, some (such as the now-restored Opera House) masterpieces of architecture) crumbled and rotted for decades. Former here and there hotel went vacant or came down for parking spaces. And the while such
horrendous degeneration and devaluation, the majority of the properties were held in various instruments by some of the most connected and prominent lawyers and pols and such of the city. And when it all bottomed itself out (through demographic self-destruction), suddenly the restorations and risings of million-dollar co-op buildings and one realizes that from urban desecration, given mega-capital’s time-span tolerance,
comes maximum return – not just personal profiteering: socio-economic renaissance. Boston provides an epic example.
Investment in, should be empowerment of. And this should include neighborhood so that the financial factor of the individual is dependent with others mutual benefit (or at least equity-stability). The terms "cohesion", "identification", "ethnicity", "heritage", even "tribal" or "sectarian" . . .apply. Pride in ethnic individuality, safety in sexual-compatible surroundings, cultural and religious congregants not only
at place of worship but place of residence, and some "market-maintained" means of letting the rich of any persuasion "move-on-up" but
the poor be provided an opportunity to at least own a palatable piece of pie -- premise and population they live amongst.
If there's to be governmental programming, it should be premised on a business venture, not even a well-intentioned "humanitarian-equalization-opportunity" paradigm. Again, it seems to have been successful in the Boston area ghetto-and-projects-replacement mini-townhouse neighborhoods.
But I'm quite sure that if there were a requirement that, for example, occupancy of those front-fee facilitated and semi-subsidized units had to conform to some demographic distribution . . . . every third resided in by an Asian and every 9th by a gay and at least one Muslim on a block . . . . . . need I say more . . . . . ?
Considering historic incidences of Black socio-economic ascendance (such as Chesapeake Bay crabbing) and abilities (such as skilled craftsmanship in the Olde South) and Harlem to an extent as urban potential sabotaged in ways . . . . the poor may actually represent the ultimate waste of resource by a failed system of state . . . . and instatement by investment in. . . . . not just emplacement of.