Actions, Intentions, Attitudes: The Lynching Of U.S. Public Housing

The last Cabrini-Green highrise being demolished. photo by Eric Allix Rogers is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Chicago, 2011. The last Cabrini-Green highrise being demolished.

In the war on American public housing — and, yes, it is a war — the term ‘collateral damage’ moves closer to home. The victims are not remote inhabitants of unpronounceable villages in faraway lands, but Americans, living in American cities. They are poor, old, jobless, single mothers, predominantly black, living in the crumbling remains of a national low-cost housing system.

The weapons of collateral damage are a scattergun of destruction, disrupting and destroying the lives of public housing residents who still remain. The damage is caused not by bombs or Predator drones or helicopter gunships, but by calculated indifference and neglect — death of a thousand budget cuts.

The war against public housing is being waged against American citizens for the glory of a privatized, free enterprise development industry. Out of one side of the industry mouth: “we can do it better.” Out of the other side: “we can only afford to build luxury homes.”

In the last two decades some 250,000 public housing units have been removed. In place of these homes, aided and abetted by political cronies and fattened by subsidies, the industry now delivers handfuls of unaffordable ‘affordable’ housing to cities across the country as it profits from a wealthier class of ‘neediness.’

For a snapshot of some of the actions, intentions, attitudes and unbelievably mean spirit that defines a fading chapter of American public housing history, read more in US Lets Public Housing Developments Crumble as a Prelude to Privatization