Thursday, January 22, 2009

Public Housing Family Developments:A Phase Out Plan

All Photos From Google Earth Unless Otherwise Noted
This is a very difficult topic for me to write about mainly because it's hot button issue any way you look at it. However, in order for massive change to take place big usually controversial ideas are what brings about. My idea is too rid the city of all public housing family developments. The mixed population development which is for seniors and the disabled will remain in place. I think of this as a social change rather than that of physical redevelopment. I think public housing has failed its residents and their children for generations and they represent all the ills of Baltimore and Urban America as a whole. True, these developments will demolished, the majority of what will go in their place will be market rate whether it's home ownership or rentals but in order for my proposal to be a success we must examine why public housing has failed on a social level and right those wrongs so the need for public housing family developments will diminish if not disappear. With the election of President Obama there has been a new wave of hope among African American children in poverty stricken areas like Baltimore where children are convinced they too can become president. Lets help them realize this potential because as it stands now that potential won't be realized.In order to solve the social problems of family development public housing we must first identify them. These problems are listed in no particular order. The drug trade and all the gun violence and addiction that goes along with it, school truancy, lack of High School or College Diploma, lack of male role models/father figures, lack of after school activities, lack of positive parental involvement, lack of day care centers, lack of job training options/post high school education options and lack of good nutrition and health/dental insurance.I Took This Picture
Now lets address possible solutions and outcomes that will be in the best interest of the public housing resident. Not all problems apply to each resident and his or her family so they will have to be evaluated on a case by case basis. First of all, drug addiction has plagued Baltimore for too long and our residents can't improve their lives if they're actively using. Those who are addicts will be taken to a rehab facility free of charge and monitored after release. Public Housing developments will be given a special status where if caught dealing/selling drugs will fetch a higher criminal charge than if they were dealing else where. There will be a spike in Police foot patrols to enforce this. Closely affiliated with the drug trade is guns. Landlords can enforce all kinds of regulations on their tenants including gun ownership and in the case of public housing, the city is landlord which gives them all the more authority to enforce its laws. Registered gun owners with criminal charges will have to give up their weapons. Granted, only a fraction of guns in Baltimore are legally registered so residents with gun charges and no registered weapon will be subject to home searches. It's drastic but so is Baltimore's gun problem. In this case the ends do justify the means.Photo From Cherry Hill Master Plan Next there's truancy, truancy is responsible for putting juveniles on the streets and getting them into the vicious cycle of the drug trade. Truancy is very hard to combat, one way that I'm privy to would be to ban School suspensions. The School Board and the Teachers' Union will hate me for this but look at it this way, if students can't escape School through getting suspended or expelled they'll have no choice but to advance through the grades and graduate High School bringing the City's graduation percentage way up, College may interest them as well. Also with parents clean and sober they can take a more positive roll in their child's education. The parents themselves may be enrolled in school themselves (read more about that later.) While we're on the subject of education, there are too many adults in public housing who don't have High School or College Diplomas. That's one of the biggest barriers that keep them from getting a job that pays enough that they don't need public housing. After obtaining a GED residents will given the same opportunity as rich kids get when the graduate High School, the opportunity to map out their college and career paths. This could be a simple Trade School or Medical School and anything and everything in between, It's up to the individual. Once residents stop qualifying for public housing the developments will empty out and ultimately be demolished.
I Took This Picture
There will be a number of programs to assist residents before and after they move out. They include health and dental insurance, after school programs with positive male role models, child care, classes to discipline children without physical violence, and proper resume building and job interview exercises.Due to the astronomically high cost of such an initiative, this will have to be done one development at a time. Once the development is emptied out and demolished and the land is sold off to developers the program can move to another development. The funds from the sale of the previous development will be earmarked to continue the program. It will be a pay as you go type venture.The first development will be Cherry Hill Homes then McCulloh Homes (not the towers), I took this Picture then LaTrobe Homes
I Took This Picture
and then Gilmor Homes. Those are the big four that cover the most land while at the same time are near gentrifying areas of the city.
Next will be smaller developments like Westport Homes (I Took This Picture)I took this picture
Douglass Homes,Brooklyn Homes, (I took this picture) Perkins Homes, The Rosemont, and Poe Homes. Finally the smallest developments like Oswego Mall, TheDukeland. Now why did I name this post "Don't Get too Comfortable?" Well there's nothing like a controversial head line to draw in readers. Now that I laid out plan to drastically reduce urban ills and decay in Baltimore it's time for you the reader to rip it to shreds.

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