Authors: Paul Grogan
September 1, 2000
Joint Center for Housing Studies, Harvard University

The authors argue in this paper that the reengineering of failed inner city public housing projects that is underway is one of the most important and positive developments in urban America in many years. It is its own distinct story, but it is also linked to a broader process of reforming failed public systems, like welfare and public schools, that have had a disproportionately negative effect on life in urban neighborhoods. The early evidence is that the newer developments, which in many cases are replacing high rise projects for the poorest of the poor with mixed income developments, are not only better for the residents but are opening up larger redevelopment opportunities that were formerly unthinkable. A blend of public-private partnerships, grassroots nonprofit organizations, and a willingness to experiment characterize what is best among the new approaches to urban problem solving. As a consequence, America's inner cities are becoming vital communities once again. There is much yet to be done, but Grogan and Proscio base their optimism on a number of trends that could dramatically multiply the impact of the grassroots community development industry. The authors point to unprecedented access to capital and credit, astonishing reductions in violent crime, and substantial overhauls of public housing, welfare, and public schools already underway as harbingers of an inner-city revival. Through a mixture of analysis and storytelling, Grogan and Proscio argue convincingly that the conditions are ripe ? the infrastructure is in place ? to turn a source of national shame into a source of national pride.

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