Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Landbanking, the current value of public housing...

The 'towers in the park' are a problematic typology. They represent the failure of Modernism and are often associated with a high crime rate, violence, drugs and high concentrations of young and poor people. These sites with 'towers in the park' have certainly a need to be redeveloped.

Current approach is to demolish all these public housing towers and to replace them by the regular block of a more neighborhood-friendly scale. This is realized by federal funding programs like ‘HOPE VI’ and ‘Choice Neighborhood’. The city sells then it public housing properties to private developers to rehabilitate the sites. Due to this privatization these new neighborhood-scale projects become also mixed-income, since this is more profitable for the developer. These actions result in a serious decrease in the total amount of available units for the poor, since most of the new units are aiming at a higher income class. Many of the former tenants will thus most likely never be able to return. These tenants are simply pushed to other poor neighborhoods and ‘towers in the park’, making those even worse.

Such approach has the purpose of upscaling the neighborhood. Although  these new projects are undoubtly better for the neighborhood than the former towers, they ignore the former tenants. The city is here in fact provoking, supporting and controlling gentrification.

In what way is this approach different from the past Urban Renewal and Slum Clearance programs, since it is still removing the poor?

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