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June 13, 2009
Brit Paper Outs Obama's Shrinking City Plan
The U.K. Telegraph reports that the Obama administration is studying a vast urban renewal project for America.
Several British papers are keeping closer track on the Obama administration than the U.S. legacy media. On June 12, the Telegraph reported:
“Dozens of US cities may have entire neighbourhoods bulldozed as part of drastic "shrink to survive" proposals being considered by the Obama administration to tackle economic decline.
The government is looking at expanding a pioneering scheme in Flint, one of the poorest US cities, which involves razing entire districts and returning the land to nature.
Local politicians believe the city must contract by as much as 40 per cent, concentrating the dwindling population and local services into a more viable area.
The radical experiment is the brainchild of Dan Kildee, treasurer of Genesee County, which includes Flint.
Having outlined his strategy to Barack Obama during the election campaign, Mr. Kildee has now been approached by the US government and a group of charities who want him to apply what he has learnt to the rest of the country.
Mr. Kildee said he will concentrate on 50 cities, identified in a recent study by the Brookings Institution, an influential Washington think-tank, as potentially needing to shrink substantially to cope with their declining fortunes.”
Obama witnessed a comparatively miniature version of this urban strategy in Mayor Daley’s Plan for Transformation. Last September, American Thinker cited a study from the Center for Urban Research and Policy at Columbia University concerning Chicago’s plan.
“The City of Chicago has been a proving ground in the national movement for public housing reform. Across the city, public housing developments are being demolished and families are being relocated to new homes in new communities. The goals are to transform the lives of public housing residents and to rebuild healthy communities where distressed public housing once stood. The experiences of family relocation and resettlement in Chicago have informed other cities facing similar challenges, making Chicago the national model for large-scale public housing transformation.
... The Chicago Housing Authority's (CHA, hereafter) Plan for Transformation, launched in 1999 seeks to accomplish several goals over a ten-year period. The CHA aims to destroy 18,000 "severely distressed" housing units and help thousands of public housing families become employed, independent citizens. Its relocation efforts promise to integrate them into the wider city; and, its redevelopment strategy promises to rebuild the lands into "mixed-income" tracts suitable for both public housing and private market families. It is a grand vision for a public housing authority and it is a historically novel role for city, state, and federal governments.”
So how’s it working in Chicago? Not so well according to the Chicago Tribune:
“A Tribune investigation found that almost nine years into what was billed as a 10-year program, the city has completed only 30 percent of the plan's most ambitious element-tearing down entire housing projects and replacing them with new neighborhoods where poor, working-class and wealthier families would live side by side.”
Valerie Jarrett, a senior White House adviser to Obama, Michelle’s former boss in the Office of the Mayor of Chicago, and the former president of a property company that managed several large Chicago Public Housing projects, played an active role the Plan for Transformation. When asked why one large venture, the Stateway Project, was failing she said,
"I don't think it's constructive to look backward and say it's a mistake. It was a very good idea that didn't come to fruition."
One thing the Plan for Transformation has been successful at doing, though, is displace thousands of poor families out of their homes without alternative housing available.
Brace yourself for urban renewal on steroids and an enhanced federal debt as one consequence.
Update Paul Tholfsen remembers:
"We had to destrroy the village in order to save it"