Good intentions

August 4, 2008

You’ve got to love subsidized-housing bureaucrats. Every time a project becomes a crime-infested pesthole, one comes along and figures out what went wrong! This time, we’ll correct all those mistakes, and we’ll have a housing project that really works! Indianapolis Housing Agency chief Bud Myers is the latest one with the brilliant idea, winning the approval of a very unskeptical columnist:

Red Maple is subsidized housing as it should be. Done right, such developments have amenities like parks and offices for job placement programs, as well as GED and preschool classes. They have nice-looking apartments and single-family homes, with layouts that look like what you’d find in Fishers, and drug testing for those hoping to move in.

The plan is for Red Maple to have all that.

“It all helps erase the stigma of public housing,” Myers said as we walked through the development one morning last week. “This is a community. (In the past), public housing was laid out like barracks. Or a reservation. This one isn’t.”

[. . .]

With down-payment assistance, two-story homes will cost homeowners between $70,000 and $90,000. Apartments will go for $50 to $825 a month, depending on income.

Whatever their cost, residents will live in a walkable neighborhood with pretty homes, nearby parks and a pool. Last week, as I talked to Myers, a tenant stopped in the community center to use a computer lab, underscoring this development’s unique nature.

I don’t think you turn a housing project into a “community” just by calling it one and providing a lot of amenities. A community grows over time as people move in and out and a shared history is created. It doesn’t spring out of a planner’s set of blueprints. And creating a mixed-income utopia is every social engineer’s fondest dream, isn’t it? People who can afford a $90,000 home don’t mind if it’s right next to a $50-a-month apartment? Please. There should be some kind of ceiling on how much money those with good intentions can waste.

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2 Responses to “Good intentions”

  1. Bob G. Says:

    There SHOULD be…but there isn’t.

    Same goes for “changing” an area by renaming it to something with an *e* on the end…like Renaissane Point”e”.
    (must be nice…oh, look, they spelled POINTE using the olde English style…I just HAVE to move THERE)

    Looks damn fine on PAPER…doesn’t it always?

    In general, Section 8 has NEVER really worked (except in VERY few cases) and will NEVER work (like many of those that move into those dwellings) no matter how they try to reinvent that wheel.
    …but it’s not like I don’t see it daily where I live.

    Good observations, Leo.

    B.G.

  2. alex Says:

    When I lived in Chicago, part of the deal that allowed developers to demolish Cabrini Green — one of the nation’s most notoriously failed public housing complexes — was that they’d have to offer low-income housing in their swanky new proposed development. I haven’t heard how it’s working out, but at the time it was being built there was a lot of skepticism that people would be willing to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to live in a place where the poor could get identical accommodations for nothing. Of course, the developer of Chicago’s Presidential Towers had to make the same promise but then never did deliver, and the settlement in the ensuing lawsuit was a mere pittance compared to the money that was made.


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