Sunday, February 04, 2007

The Projects and "De-Concentration" ...

More from Adam Nossiter and the New York Times:

This city’s politicians have been notably silent on the issue but have occasionally suggested that they, too, are wary of a return to the old days. “We don’t need soap-opera watchers right now,” President Oliver Thomas of the City Council said last February, commenting on the lives of displaced public housing residents.

The department’s goal is to deconcentrate the poor, in concert with the philosophy that developed during the early 1990s calling for redeveloping public housing as “mixed income” communities. The best-known example here, the redevelopment of St. Thomas after its demolition in 2000, is still a subject of fierce controversy, a mix of successes and shortcomings that has fueled suspicions.

The pleasant streets of pastel-colored houses that replaced the grim St. Thomas buildings have put life back into a Lower Garden District neighborhood that for years was fearful and moribund.

On the other hand, the new development has accommodated less than one in five of the old St. Thomas families, though the developer says expansion will add more. And those that are there feel threatened by tenant rules designed to make the neighborhood’s market-rate inhabitants comfortable, including occupancy restrictions, Mr. Everard said.

“Folks got cheated out of their dream,” Mr. Everard said. “The whole concept of the mixed-income community ended up dislocating the vast majority of poor people.”

Yet a return to the old days is an outcome that even some former tenants do not embrace.

“If they’re talking about redevelopment, I’m for it,” Natasha Dixon said at the meeting last month. “But why can’t y’all do it in phases? Why can’t that happen now, to get the people home?”


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