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VLQD - Bulldozing America

by ThatBritGuy Sat Jun 13th, 2009 at 01:40:48 PM EST

This remarkable story courtesy of the Torygraph.

US cities may have to be bulldozed in order to survive - Telegraph

Dozens of US cities may have entire neighbourhoods bulldozed as part of drastic "shrink to survive" proposals being considered by the Obama administration to tackle economic decline.

The government looking at expanding a pioneering scheme in Flint, one of the poorest US cities, which involves razing entire districts and returning the land to nature.

Local politicians believe the city must contract by as much as 40 per cent, concentrating the dwindling population and local services into a more viable area.

[...]

"The real question is not whether these cities shrink - we're all shrinking - but whether we let it happen in a destructive or sustainable way," said Mr Kildee. "Decline is a fact of life in Flint. Resisting it is like resisting gravity."

Karina Pallagst, director of the Shrinking Cities in a Global Perspective programme at the University of California, Berkeley, said there was "both a cultural and political taboo" about admitting decline in America.

"Places like Flint have hit rock bottom. They're at the point where it's better to start knocking a lot of buildings down," she said.



Even allowing for some hyperbole - I'd like to see some confirmation of this story, although Drews comment about burnt out row houses suggests it's not exaggeration - where did all those people go?

What happened to them?

And have we been getting the full news picture? I was talking to an editor in the US who said that he'd been trapped in a riot near his home in Indianapolis. When you have entire areas going to seed, it's possible this wasn't a one off.

Foreclosures continue at a rate beyond that of a financial Katrina.

U.S. Foreclosure Filings Top 300,000 as Bank Seizures Loom - Bloomberg.com

June 11 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. foreclosure filings surpassed 300,000 for the third straight month in May and may hit a record 1.8 million by the first half of the year, RealtyTrac Inc. said.

A total of 321,480 properties received a default or auction notice or were repossessed last month, up 18 percent from a year earlier, the Irvine, California-based seller of default data said today in a statement. One in 398 U.S. households received a filing last month.

"The foreclosure bucket is filling faster than it's emptying," Jay Brinkmann, chief economist of the Washington- based Mortgage Bankers Association, said in an interview. "It will continue through next quarter at least."

As a magnificent testimony to the American Dream these numbers speak for themselves. But they can't even begin to touch on the human stories they represent.

Between three and four million households will be made homeless this year, while the areas they lived in may be bulldozed back to nature.

So I'll ask again - where do these people go? What happens to them now?

Display:
So what's the size of an average household in the US? how many people is that? and are these abandoned houses specifically in lower income areas? so does that alter the number of people who this is talking about.

Between three and four million households will be made homeless this year, is this figure on top of the number that has already been made homeless?

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sat Jun 13th, 2009 at 02:17:43 PM EST
These are abandoned houses in what would have been "lower middle class" neighborhoods ... "solid working class" or "battlers" in Ozzie terms.

AFAIU, the three to four million homeless this year is on top of the number that were made homeless last year and previously.

Average household size for the US is 2.59. Don't know if there is any systematic bias for the type of households bearing the brunt of the foreclosure crisis ... wouldn't be surprised if its larger, though.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Wed Jun 17th, 2009 at 02:27:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I guess putting homeless people in abandoned homes instead of bulldozing those homes would be totally unacceptable in US society.  Otherwise, I could see a lot of advantages to a properly run system such as that.  There are a lot of socially useful functions that many of the currently homeless could perform if they had a fixed address and a roof over their heads.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Jun 17th, 2009 at 03:37:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There's also a cash flow problem for a local community that wants to pursue this option ... these homes were often designed for cheapest construction costs rather than for the cheapest upkeep, after all, and putting homeless people in the abandoned homes places another financial burden on communities that are facing declining tax bases on top of the impacts of the recession.

It occurs to me, after frequently riding by a failed medium box retailer in town, that it might well be easier to create financially affordable shelters inside a failed medium box retail building, sheltered from the elements ... indeed, if combined with community truck gardens, the front part could sell community grown fresh produce, while the back part has shelters that can be rented with part of the income from working in the community garden and other local community work.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Wed Jun 17th, 2009 at 04:45:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Maintenance is a problem, and consolidating the footprint is a good thing.  But when we have families that are homeless because they couldn't afford an exorbitant mortgage, but who still qualify for un-employment and welfare and who still have a car, placing them in viable abandoned or foreclosed properties on condition of basic maintenance might be a good option.  Some may be able to provide child care for others who might find permanent, part time or occasional work.  Provision of home health care, transportation, shopping, etc. for the elderly, with appropriate supervision, could be a possibility.  The idea would be to pay the equivalent of rent in useful social services that would otherwise be unaffordable.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Jun 17th, 2009 at 07:19:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
These homes cost a dollar, in many cases.

They are typically crack houses, homes of criminality.

My city has been bulldozing them by the thousands.

In order to save them, you would have to make them habitable again, build them, heat them, etc. Flint is in a cold climate, so is my city. It's obviously easier to care for the homeless in big buildings rather than heating indidvidual decrepit homes.

Our citizens groups and neighborhood alliances are largely in favor of bulldozing precisely because of safety issues.

Where did the people go?

To the suburbs.

This is a problem in America. The cities emptied as people moved out. now we have new builds wa out in exurbia, while the first ring suburbs are emptying quickly. The first ring suburb around my city is like a moat on the boundaryline: no one lives there.

The USA has a decentralized political structure. There is no central planning. Cities incorporate townships which straddle two cities, all within a country government. We have multiple layers of government that would make your head spin, and none of them seem to plan things together.

In my town, I am represented by a council member overseeing my district of the city, and that council member works as a balance against the mayor and city Hall, but beyond that, I am represented by a County rep. who balances the county commissioner, and then within the council district, and the city borders, and the county borders, there are separate townships who also have forms of representation. We're talking about four layers of government before you even move to the state level. This is precisely why we have poor urban planning in the US, and why the very idea of abandoned homes is a reality.

You can buy the homes for $1 and maintain them yourself, but no one does.

$1!!!!

by Upstate NY on Thu Jun 18th, 2009 at 03:45:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course, finding a way to buy homes for $1, and fix them up for multiple occupancy still leaves homes to be bulldozed, but if planned well would also leave a suburban village better positioned to stand up to the coming economic shocks.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Jun 19th, 2009 at 01:26:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You need a lot of money to do it, because the cost of maintaining a home has to be subsidized, and obviously, this cost, even for families without a mortgage, is really significant. Once you update a home and make it habitable, it's worth say $50-75k. Heat at $5k a year, electric at $1.5k, water, sewage and trash at $3k, property taxes another $3k. Another $1k in home insurance. You need $14k a year to simply maintain a home, and this doesn't cover maintenance!
by Upstate NY on Fri Jun 19th, 2009 at 03:20:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's $135/week if its split into two residences, or 17 hours at $8/hour, $90/week if its split into three, or 12 hours at $8/hour, plus the materials for the reconstruction and maintenance and the labor share that goes into that.

Evidently the system would require ongoing employment of some form in order to keep going, though the bulldozing of some neighborhoods would open up the possibility of truck gardening for some of that.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Jun 19th, 2009 at 05:09:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But we're talking about a homeless population, correct?

There is Section 8 housing all over my city, no shortage of it. If you do the math: welfare + section 8 housing, you come out ahead by going through the Feds.

I guess the Feds themselves could make these homes into Sec. 8, but in my area HUD always prefers big apartment buildings. I rarely see Sec. 8 homes.

by Upstate NY on Fri Jun 19th, 2009 at 06:30:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... population. Economically homeless, rather than the homeless populations created by the closure of long term mental care facilities and by family break-ups, often involving violence against women.

There's a certain amount that can be done by leveraging existing federal government programs. But obviously federal government programs are always designed with the objective of only taking care of a part of the problem at hand ... or at least, over the past thirty years they have been.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Jun 19th, 2009 at 06:41:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And you've got to think about who the neighbours are, and the possibility that the house will still be worth $1 after it's fixed up.

There was a street of houses in Salford in the early 90's, I remember, where houses sold for a couple of hundred pounds.  They'd been a normal sort of price until a single antisocial family moved in, and terrorised the area. Everybody wanted out, nobody wanted in.

If $1 houses are available, and the homeless aren't buying them, there's likely to be a good reason.  I'd rather live in a relative's garage than take my children to live next door to a crack den, for instance.

by Sassafras on Fri Jun 19th, 2009 at 04:21:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... there aren't any neighbors. They all went to Phoenix or Florida or some such, or are living with family.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Jun 19th, 2009 at 06:42:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, I'm responding to UNY's scenario, where the $1 houses are crack dens, i.e. occupied. Those are the sort of neighbours I'm talking about.

If you can manage to start with a clean slate, occupant-wise, then what you suggest can be done. Up until a few years ago in the UK, tenants of social housing couldn't be evicted no matter how atrocious their behaviour, and there were cases where loutish families trashed entire neighbourhoods.  There was nothing, however, to stop councils knocking their own property down.  I do know of one gone-to-the-dogs street where a council applied (to itself) for permission to bulldoze the lot, rehoused all the tenants (the "problem families" going to the empty houses next door to other "problem families" elsewhere in the city) and then..."changed" its collective mind, did up all the houses and put in new tenants, turning a dangerous street into a sought-after one.

It worked. There are problems with it, obviously, insofar as somebody has to decide who are the deserving and undeserving poor. If it's applied solely to "families who have 200 other families living in fear of a brick though their window", then I think few would argue, but it's obviously a system open to prejudice and abuse.

(The other problem that tactic created (of concentrating social issues) no longer applies because councils are no longer required to house antisocial tenants, and such families are now simply evicted.  Where they go, I have no idea.  There were a couple of high profile evictions and the issue just slipped off the radar. )

by Sassafras on Sat Jun 20th, 2009 at 03:27:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There are problems with it, obviously, insofar as somebody has to decide who are the deserving and undeserving poor.

That's never stopped British social workers...

A man of words and not of deeds is like a garden full of weeds; a man of deeds and not of words is like a garden full of turds — Anonymous

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jun 20th, 2009 at 03:56:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, it doesn't stop them.  But the whole UK benefit system, really, demands that you constantly prove you are "deserving". Assessments of needs, for instance, are just an extension of that culture.
by Sassafras on Sat Jun 20th, 2009 at 04:35:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... of a situation like Flint, Michigan, where there were already entire vacant neighborhoods before the foreclosure crisis began picking up steam.

And, of course, a cooperative buying the property would be under fewer restrictions on what who it will accept for membership than a city or town council.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat Jun 20th, 2009 at 02:30:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Unemployment is now approaching 20 per cent and the total population has almost halved to 110,000.

The exodus - particularly of young people - coupled with the consequent collapse in property prices, has left street after street in sections of the city almost entirely abandoned.

I'd guess that they've gone where there's work. Especially the young, especially the graduates.  I spent my teens in an industrially devastated city.  When we went to university, we knew we weren't coming back.

by Sassafras on Sat Jun 13th, 2009 at 05:12:19 PM EST
People have moved from the old rust belt cities to the information age cities.

I saw my first dead city when I was 23, taking a train from New Haven, CT down to NYC. Bridgeport, in particular, was a ghost town being slowly reclaimed by nature. That first view was stunning.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Sun Jun 14th, 2009 at 02:55:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, downtown Bridgeport is certainly like that, and it did declare bankruptcy, but there are extraordinary old New England beautiful homes, and lush greenery, the closer you get to the Merrit Parkway. Bridgeport made its bread as a port, hence the name, and that downtown area off the port has suffered for it.
by Upstate NY on Thu Jun 18th, 2009 at 03:47:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... Housing Bubble cities. Phoenix is an example of a city where a surprisingly large share of the employment attracting people into the city was catering to the housing for the people that had been attracted into the city.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Jun 19th, 2009 at 01:28:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
New Haven is nothing to write home about either.

Nor is Waterbury.  Or New London.  Or Hartford.

Connecticut cities, in general, are pretty nasty in my experience.

On the other hand, small villages in CT are quite nice, and you can buy some nice, historic homes in those villages for pretty reasonable money, especially by BosWash standards.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Fri Jun 19th, 2009 at 07:09:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I get the arguments for 'downsizing', but... I live in a city with a massive housing shortage where just a couple of decades ago similar proposals were made. Today, even with the housing crash, some of the neighbourhoods in question are places where a burnt out rowhouse will go for around a million bucks.
by MarekNYC on Sat Jun 13th, 2009 at 05:48:51 PM EST
True, but you live in one of the three or four most economically important cities in the world.  And, although there are plenty of people who hate New York, there's not exactly a shortage of people in the world who want to live there, especially now that it's a lot safer and much more trendy.

These other folks live in places like Gary, which ranks somewhere between Camden and the Sixth Circle of Hell in appeal.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Fri Jun 19th, 2009 at 06:50:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Camden is right across from Philly, don't see why it couldn't go the Jersey City, northern Manhattan route. Ditto for similar reasons for Gary. Places like Flint which aren't next to desirable urban centers with at least reasonably functional central business districts are a much more difficult case. Though some small old textile cities have done ok in NE, others not so much.
by MarekNYC on Sun Jun 21st, 2009 at 07:29:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In Flint, this isn't a new story. Causes I would estimate as: People moved to the sub/exurbs (in Flint this is the main cause of the initial decline), got evicted and/or got imprisoned. When they got evicted and didn't get imprisoned, they moved out of the area and state, got homeless, started squatting, or got a cheaper place to rent (for instance by moving into the garage of their brother, or into the upper floor of their parents' place, etc.).

On the policy of bulldozing: Americans don't build their homes as durables in the same sense that Europeans do, many of their houses are built as cheap disposable items with a lifetime of 50 years, or so (see an example in Flint). Once upkeep of these houses is no longer being attended to, they quickly become cheaper to demolish and eventually reconstruct than to renovate.

I imagine that some people would like to live in nature, so I could imagine some more selective bulldozing. Although the reputation of cities like Flint might interfere with that cunning plan. Also, many older cities were settled on prime agricultural land, so you could try some organic farming outside of the industrial areas.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sat Jun 13th, 2009 at 09:27:59 PM EST
... abandoned neighborhoods in Roger and Me, originally released in 1989.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Wed Jun 17th, 2009 at 04:46:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A good post in this sad situation, here:

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2009/06/low-interest-rates-lead-to-overbuilding.html#links

Nothing to add. Or maybe, yes, why are empty houses so expensive to the town councils... could it be an stupid taxation system?

It's hard to eat...

903.000 households were foreclosured on first quarter of 2009... Someone keeps the account?

Bulldozing might be the most sustainable solution in the long term, but who pays it?

Who caused it?

Who benefited from it?

Who shold be killed?

Finished.

by kukute on Sat Jun 13th, 2009 at 09:28:17 PM EST
Learned something interesting today.

Banks that have foreclosed on hundreds of thousands of homes are refusing to pay the requisite property taxes!

'What's yours is mine and what's mine is my own'.

Remember that, buddy.

by Loefing on Sun Jun 14th, 2009 at 09:36:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A tax sale should "discover" the proper price for these properties.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Jun 14th, 2009 at 02:36:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's pretty dumb of them to do.

Liens, fines for upkeep, penalties for not paying taxes.

I'm sure the cities would be very pleased to take these homes off the banks hands.

How could a bank possibly get away with that?

by Upstate NY on Thu Jun 18th, 2009 at 03:49:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm sure the cities would be very pleased to take these homes off the banks hands.

I'm not so sure. It means the city has no chance at all of getting property taxes, has to do the maintenance themselves, and can't sell them at what they think is a reasonable price either.

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Thu Jun 18th, 2009 at 04:01:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm assuming the banks are holding onto the homes and not going through the foreclosure process (people are snapping up homes in foreclosure these days) because the houses still have value. A city couldn't make up the property taxes in 30 or 40 years on what it could make on a house in foreclosure.
by Upstate NY on Thu Jun 18th, 2009 at 04:03:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don' get it: if the banks want to hang on to the houses because they still have value why don't they pay the property taxes and so on?
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Thu Jun 18th, 2009 at 04:15:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
When banks want to get rid of houses, they put them up in foreclosure sales. If they're not paying property taxes, then they have essentially given the homes over to the city.

So, what we're talking about here then is banks giving homes over to the city. Unless we're talking about totally worthless homes, any city would be glad to take over a home. Even in distressed areas, you can sell a foreclosed home for $100k.

The reason why banks aren't getting rid of homes in auctions is because they don't want to totally crater the market. A city wouldn't have the same concerns.

by Upstate NY on Thu Jun 18th, 2009 at 05:07:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... the reason that there are returns to be had from foreclosure auctions is because of the demand versus the supply. In areas where the demand for used homes has been pushed down into the inelastic range, dumping more homes onto the market will reduce the total revenue extracted from home buyers.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Jun 19th, 2009 at 01:30:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Bulldozed city centers and their inner residential neighborhoods have long been a part of the American "landscape."  The auto industry's long slide into bankruptcy and the real estate/financial debacles have brought the dilemma back into focus as the problems that once were confined to the cities begin to effect the suburbs as well.

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears
by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Sat Jun 13th, 2009 at 10:52:39 PM EST
In the US it is also getting attention from RW sources:
Barack Hussein Obama--President of the United States, messiah to the world, the 'chosen' one to the Left, and the dreaded 'Fuhrer-in-chief' to many of us--stated that he wants to 'bulldoze' U.S. cities that are in a state of decline.

I have a suggestion for 'Dear Leader.'  Start by bulldozing D.C.--not the hallowed halls of government or our national monuments but the horrid, crime-ridden, drug-infested neighborhoods of the nation's capital where thousands neither affirm nor value liberty, the rule of law, or the U.S. Constitution.

For far too long the nation's taxpayers have subsidized this monstrosity in spite of the fact that it's inhabitants refuse to allow upright citizens to carry a gun and proceed to demand that they have a voting member of Congress, although they are not and never have been a 'state.'

So, if the 'President of the United States,' the One with all the answers that will 'save the world,' the epitome of deep intellectual contemplation and 'rational solutions,' wishes to bulldoze those cities that are a drag on the nation, what better place to start than D.C.?

Of course I would not expect Obama to even give such a thing a single thought.  And of course I am engaging in sarcasm aimed at such a notion.  But I hope you see the point.

Most U.S. cities that are in a state of decline are in the states of the central and northern East Coast and the central Midwest in the 'rust belt.'  These areas have been hit hard by recession and the failure of U.S. industry to stand firm against unreasonable demands of labor unions that have basically rendered them uncompetitive with foreign corporations.  Great suffering has, indeed, ensued in these areas as a consequence of our collective errors in judgment over a very long period of time.

But The Examiner is present in a spectrum of political opinions in 90 cities across the USA.  In addition to the cited Columbia Conservative Examiner there is a Columbia Progressive Examiner which is featuring an article entitled "Local environmental advocates fight coal plant proposal."  Both these "Examiners" are in Columbia South Carolina.  This is the first time I have encountered it.  It is advertising for writers on its home page.  It appears to be an internet based do it yourself journalism vehicle.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Jun 14th, 2009 at 01:07:40 AM EST
ARGeezer:
These areas have been hit hard by recession and the failure of U.S. industry to stand firm against unreasonable demands of labor unions that have basically rendered them uncompetitive with foreign corporations

the heartless disingenuousness in this statement is galling.

damn workers should live on $2 p.day and like it!

often enough it's not even 'foreign' corporations, but american ones, who've offshored the work force.

cunning, hitting the unions and the furriners in one statement...

the bigger the lie, the more believable.

and so it goes...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Jun 14th, 2009 at 02:12:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It was its sheer RW outrageousness that recommended it.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Jun 14th, 2009 at 12:07:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A bizarre viewpoint, but no surprise given the perspective.

Why bizarre? Because the cities he mentions are all surrounded by the richest zip codes in America, the place from which most of the wealth is generated. The northeast. The states he's pointing to are all net contributors to the tax burden, whereas the states with cities in better shape (newer cities) are all still drawing more in tax money than they contribute.

by Upstate NY on Thu Jun 18th, 2009 at 03:52:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Telegraph article seems to be the chief source for the various articles that turn up on Google under "bulldozing cities" or "bulldozing neighborhoods."  I think the RW is seizing this as a meme and trying to use it to bash Obama.  It seems to have originated from a local official in Flint, Michigan, who saw it as a path to solvency for Flint and sought help from first the Obama campaign and then the Obama Administration.

Next we may have Obama's black bulldozers coming to a neighborhood near you.  No doubt Rush will soon pick up on this.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Jun 14th, 2009 at 01:23:18 AM EST
I find it ironic that it's the RW media that's latching on to this when this type of policy took hold in New Orleans under GWB's regime in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

GWB's HUD (The U.S. department for Housing and Urban Development) and the Housing Authority of New Orleans decided it was better to bulldoze 1000's of housing units, some of which had survived Camille as well as Katrina, and then to lease the land to private developers for 99 years.

http://www.cwsworkshop.org/katrinareader/node/542
http://www.cwsworkshop.org/katrinareader/node/560

The police had to keep protesters away from city council meetings with pepper spray and batons while council members voted 7:0 to go ahead with the demolition.  Many of these protesters were former residents and at least one of their lawyers was arrested.

http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/12/20/neworleans.protests/index.html

This appears to have been swallowed, digested and forgotten by the U.S. mainstream two years ago.  Post Katrina New Orleans provides the blue print of how to help developers at the expense of the low income and unemployed.

http://southernstudies.org/2008/03/half-new-orleans-poor-permanently.html

by kagaka (karel.k.rehor [zav] email [tecka] cz) on Sun Jun 14th, 2009 at 04:22:48 AM EST
Slightly off-topic, but not entirely irrelevant...



"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sun Jun 14th, 2009 at 08:17:23 AM EST
When I was looking for a home in my city, I saw many houses with subdivided homes, and some with many, many bedrooms.

My real estate agent would invariably say things like, this was once owned by the SMITH family, they raised 9 children here, and the brother/aunt lived in the carriage house out back.

You had properties with 10 people living in them.

Nowadays, people have fewer kids, and the kids move out and into new cities where they buy new homes. I bet the per capita in each home has dropped by half (at least) over the years.

by Upstate NY on Thu Jun 18th, 2009 at 03:56:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Too Poor to Make the News

Peg, who is 55 and lives in rural Missouri, had been working three part-time jobs to support her disabled daughter and two grandchildren, who had moved in with her. Then, last winter, she had a heart attack, missed work and fell behind in her mortgage payments. If I couldn't help, all four would have to move into the cramped apartment in Minneapolis already occupied by my nephew and his wife.

(...)

What are the stations between poverty and destitution? Like the Nouveau Poor, the already poor descend through a series of deprivations, though these are less likely to involve forgone vacations than missed meals and medications. The Times reported earlier this month that one-third of Americans can no longer afford to comply with their prescriptions.

There are other, less life-threatening, ways to try to make ends meet. The Associated Press has reported that more women from all social classes are resorting to stripping, although "gentlemen's clubs," too, have been hard-hit by the recession. The rural poor are turning increasingly to "food auctions," which offer items that may be past their sell-by dates.

And for those who like their meat fresh, there's the option of urban hunting. In Racine, Wis., a 51-year-old laid-off mechanic told me he's supplementing his diet by "shooting squirrels and rabbits and eating them stewed, baked and grilled." In Detroit, where the wildlife population has mounted as the human population ebbs, a retired truck driver is doing a brisk business in raccoon carcasses, which he recommends marinating with vinegar and spices.

The most common coping strategy, though, is simply to increase the number of paying people per square foot of dwelling space -- by doubling up or renting to couch-surfers. It's hard to get firm numbers on overcrowding, because no one likes to acknowledge it to census-takers, journalists or anyone else who might be remotely connected to the authorities. At the legal level, this includes Peg taking in her daughter and two grandchildren in a trailer with barely room for two, or my nephew and his wife preparing to squeeze all four of them into what is essentially a one-bedroom apartment. But stories of Dickensian living arrangements abound.

In Los Angeles, Prof. Peter Dreier, a housing policy expert at Occidental College, says that "people who've lost their jobs, or at least their second jobs, cope by doubling or tripling up in overcrowded apartments, or by paying 50 or 60 or even 70 percent of their incomes in rent."



In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Jun 14th, 2009 at 12:48:55 PM EST
The most common coping strategy, though, is simply to increase the number of paying people per square foot of dwelling space

We've seen this before, when single family brownstone townhouses were converted to apartments in the big move to the suburbs.

There is a strong tendency in the US to stereotype a slum as an inner urban area, but the same thing happens whenever the property value drops below the replacement cost ... landlords begin extracting value from higher density renting to incomes lower down on the income ladder, while the property is allowed to depreciate.

And higher density in former suburban area where there is also out-migration implies abandoned housing.

If it dawns on people over the coming decade that a stopping rail service through the town can raise property values in an easy walk or park and ride of the station, and keep some districts out of the slum zone that are at risk of falling into the slum zone, the politics of establishing rail services will start to swing. NIMBY's will be converted into PIMBY's.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Wed Jun 17th, 2009 at 02:36:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Rail service indeed.

Instead, urban planning of the 60s designed highways that tore through neighborhoods and allowed business people quick exits to the suburbs.

Ironically, those businesspeople have now had to move farther out as their first ring suburbs deteriorated, and even the water and sewage lines (made out of cheaper materials) began to burst. We had a snowstorm here that caused flooding a few years ago, and these first ring burbs were without water because their systems couldn't take the pressure.

Meanwhile, the city rolls along with 150 year old pipes made of lead coated with all kinds of sediment. They've never had to dig up the system in a century and a half.

by Upstate NY on Thu Jun 18th, 2009 at 04:00:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Slashdot Technology Story | Broke Counties Turn Failing Roads To Gravel
To save money, more than 20 Michigan counties have decided to turn deteriorating paved roads back to gravel. Montcalm County estimates that repaving a road costs more than $100,000 a mile. Grinding the same mile of road up and turning it into gravel costs $10,000. At least 50 miles of road have been reverted to gravel in Michigan the past three years.


Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Tue Jun 16th, 2009 at 08:24:11 AM EST
Where did the people go who created the vast areas of urban abandonment that have been there for years?  That's fairly easy to explain.  They went to the suburbs, or moved to other towns that were booming.  Cities in the Midwest generally peaked between 1950 and 1970, while the South, the Southwest, and the West began their ascent later on.

It's not uniform.  Detroit proper peaked at the 1950 Census at roughly 1.8m, and has fallen by about half since then.  However, the metro area continued to grow, and the Detroit metro area is today larger than it was in 1950.

Even in boom towns, a similar process took place.  Atlanta hit a peak in 1970 at a little south of 500k within the city limits, and dropped about 20% of it (to ~394k) by 1990.  In the last 20 years, though, the city proper has recovered and grown to 520k.  Meanwhile, over that 40-year period, the metro area grew from about 1.7m to about 5.6m.

Flint, on the other hand, simply collapsed.  It isn't big enough to be a Detroit, let alone a New York or DC, where eventually demographics, cultural preferences and economic power begin to shift people back to the cities, as they have in those two cases.  And with most of the population leaving Flint, there's no obvious road to recovery there.

Many cities are seeing that shift, though.  Even ones which are in rough shape, and here I'm, of course, thinking of good ol' Baltiless.  I knock Baltiless a lot, but it's now in the early stages of gentrifying.  But Baltiless has the advantage of being surrounded by wealthier areas, which guarantees some money will flow into it.  It's got the makings of a decent economic foundation (Johns Hopkins, U of Maryland, some good tourist traps, etc).  And it has the advantage of being dirt cheap compared with everything nearby.

Now, what becomes of the new abandoned people and places?  That's another question.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Thu Jun 18th, 2009 at 01:55:42 PM EST
When the human population on the earth drops from 7 billion to 1 billion in the coming century, there will be plenty of city downsizing.

James Lovelock:

"Our main task, should the earth continue to heat, is to adapt and learn how to survive," he said. "We're unlikely to become extinct by global heating, but we may be cut back to one billion people or less."

That's approximately a seventh the world's current population.

by Magnifico on Thu Jun 18th, 2009 at 08:16:27 PM EST
If it comes to that we're looking at decades of chaos in which we can forget about city planning until a number of decades after the population stabilizes. Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler is a good guess as to what life would be like in that scenario.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Fri Jun 19th, 2009 at 05:45:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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