I continue to be appalled by some of the garbage research that gets published in the name of social science and urban development. A recent one was published by The Brookings Institution titled The Devaluation of Assets in the Black Community. This is certainly a provocative title.
The research presumed to show that single family homes in the black communities are worth less than comparable houses in white communities. This is something that is hardly a surprise. These differences can be explained by lots of reasons, most prominently crime and schools. The authors made elaborate adjustments to properties and concluded there must be other reasons than the usual real estate ones for the difference in price. That difference of course was race.
If they could have shown comparable neighborhoods where everything was the same except race they could have made a point. Of course, they didn’t do any such thing.
My real problem is the concept of devaluation which assumes there is a proper value for any piece of real estate, or anything else. I could argue my house in St. Louis is devalued compared to San Francisco. These comparisons are meaningless. In St. Louis, black families moved out of historically black neighborhoods in huge numbers for reasons I stated, safety and good schools. Hardly surprising. Written by Paul Dribin
St. Louis Chosen for ‘Healthy Housing’ Initiative | Catholic Charities
— Read on www.ccstl.org/st-louis-chosen-for-healthy-housing-initiative/
This is great news. I helped st Patricks get started with hospital-homelessness initiative
I have a personal tendency to like academics and their approach to the world. Still as a practitioner of housing, I have found them to be of little benefit.
It is difficult to think of any academic idea that has substantially furthered the cause of affordable housing. Inclusionary zoning is an example of a popular academic idea. It is the policy that every housing complex that is developed needs to set aside a certain percentage of units for affordable housing. After years of talk, very few communities have initiated such policies because there is not the political will to do so. (Academics usually do not pay attention to politics). Similarly, I hear talk from the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University about “organic” urban development. What does that mean? We will all long be dead and gone before we see any organic growth on the north side of St. Louis.
Hopefully you get the picture. Pay attention to people who have actually built housing, not academics. Written by Paul Dribin
this is a major screwup. Consultant should be tarred and feathered
Poor people have very serious problems, that don’t need exaggeration. I have worked my whole professional life to address the problems of poverty. The progressive left is making a serious mistake by romanticizing the poor.
David Brooks has some excellent words on this subject. He states that conservative exaggerate by saying that all the problems of poverty are caused by the individuals and progressive make the same mistake by blaming all the problems on institutions. The reality is somewhere in the middle.
In managing affordable housing I have seen numerous instances where the low income individuals make poor decisions that are within their control that make their situations worse. These include abusive relationships, not putting emphasis on a good education, and engaging in drugs and crime. Poverty is not an excuse for this behavior. Let’s not romanticize things. Written by Paul Dribin
Urban Planners talk about the need for community involvement in neighborhood development. That is good. Similarly, public housing residents need to have their ideas included in planning for the future of their developments. Yet, in St. Louis I sometimes think democracy has gone overboard. It seems that everyone no matter how wacky their idea has an equal say in the future of our communities. I certainly see that problem in the failure of the McKee effort to redevelop north St. Louis. People get worn out and nickel and dimed.
My first job with HUD was to insure and improve tenant participation in public housing. In all, participation tended to be low. Poor people participate less in public life less than wealthier people, that is partially why they are poor. More important, they simply lack the time for civic involvement.
A concrete example. The Darst-Webbe Hope VI redevelop[ment required tenant involvement. The remaining few tenants in the failed original project refused to be supportive of a complete demolition and redevelopment. Why? They were selling drugs and didn’t want that activity disrupted. It has always puzzled me why tenants of public housing appear to have more say in the running of their project than other properties. All political theorists have agreed that direct democracy is a poor form of government. They are right. Written by Paul Dribin