Tuesday, December 7, 2010

More on Cabrini-Green



JM said...

I'm a bit confused: do they dislike Cabrini-Green, but appreciate the community? The viewpoints presented seem to go back and forth.

t said...

I'm not sure I've understood what you're asking. As I understand it, the perspective of most Cabrini residents is simple: they want decent, safe, well-maintained public housing. The CHA has neglected the high rises at Cabrini for years, as the resident's stories make clear. For example, many of the elevators simply don't work at all- in fact problems of this sort are par for the course in US public housing these days. The NYTimes ran an article about similar problems in NY recently.

Also, the residents, justifiably in my view, are not convinced that they're being evicted, scattered and relocated for their own good. In fact, the residents are right that they're being displaced in order to pave the way for the gentrification of the land that Cabrini sits on. I don't know if you know Chicago, but Cabrini is next door to the second richest neighborhood in the US (behind Upper East Side manahattan), the Gold Coast.

So they are frustrated that Cabrini was so under-maintained, underfunded and crime-ridden, on the one hand, and, on the other, they're frustrated that they are being shoved out of public housing altogether on the other hand. That is, they are frustrated by the unfair choice being forced upon them: either accept decaying housing like Cabrini, or get out of the near north side. This is neatly summed up in a placard I saw once: "Don't tear Cabrini down, fix it". In other words, don't eliminate public housing as such; create the conditions for good public housing to flourish.

These points are made more clearly than I make them in the documentary, linked in a recent post, titled "Voice of Cabrini".

JM said...

I should've specified, my apologies, but thanks for the explanation. I agree with you about improving the public housing and in fact, I was in Chicago this past weekend and my mom and I discussed the issue. I think ideally, I'd be in favor of building new sturdy,safe and affordable public houses.