- Saving Public Housing
Can NYCHA Be Saved?
Housing & Community Development Consultant
NYCHA's problems are not the problems of NYCHA alone. NYCHA's problem are like the fever blister when the body catches a cold. Our entire society is sick. NYCHA's endemic problems are just a visible sore spot. The general population of today is lost in the material world of physical beauty versus the not so beautiful, young versus old, techno gadgets and social media skills, mass communication devices, long distance vacations, gossiping sound bites and all of it which requires money and always more of it. Corporate consumer culture has run a muck and has turned many into frivolous fools attached to material possessions alone. We are squandering the true spiritual laws of life and the old religions seem corny and out of touch. In the wake of the industrial revolution and now the techno revolution the 100 years bombardment of consumer products advertising has taken its toll. It has taken humanities identities to the extremes of one sided materialism and the issues of public housing - concentrated poverty - are simply an eyesore of a bygone highly discriminatory economic era, long overlooked and forgotten but always present. Housing policy itself is now thought of in terms of regionalism along lines of public transit and mixed income communities. The vast concentrations of public housing within the city boundaries no longer work neither socially nor economically. We as a human species have lots of work to do in adjusting ourselves to the universal interconnectedness we all live in together as a common human race. We can no longer simply ignore the side effects of our one sided celebration of material acquisitions at the expense of "those others". During this time of monopoly and oligarchy capitalism, social welfare policies and the fair redistribution of opportunity and wealth, love, compassion and empathy for all is the only solution to the problems of humanity. New York City's public housing was built by a well known racist, Robert Moses, at a time when racism, social and economic discrimination was a well institutionalized practice within the public policy. In the final analysis the source of all of our social problems was never in our pocket books but rather in our heads and hearts. We need to put the inner dignity of all peoples lives above profits, boozy partying and ego trips. We need a strong higher consciousness to prevail in society.
I have mixed feelings about New York City's public housing, having lived in one when I was a struggling college student raising a family, and now full circle back to be a caretaker for my 92 year old mother. Public housing's tenant income mix has been and will continue to be a conundrum, the ethical dilemmas it poses are daunting, the challenges of making it work financially impossible to meet (without destroying its mission of housing the poor and working class) in the political and economic climate we're in right now and for the foreseable future. So, in my view, the issue should not be to "save" public housing but to advocate for a real affordable housing Marshall Plan in New York City, that competes with public housing. With a vacancy rate of less than 1% it's a cruel hoax to offer any working family hopes of getting into an apartment. The NYCHA is a collosal bureaucracy with putrid patronage and mediocre attention to physical plant maintenance. I know first hand that the odious esthetics of public housing are not entirely the fault of uncaring or irresponsible tenants - a minority for sure. So don't look to Bloomberg or the private sector for a solution. Advocates need to organize for a greater share of the public purse and a universal affordable housing answer to the perennial housing squeeze in the Big Apple.
ARCHIVESVIEW FULL ARCHIVE
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Aging City, Youth With Needs: The Challenge for Nonprofits
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