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Privatizing Public Housing

As consideration is being given to “privatizing” public housing projects by selling individual family units to residents and since it also appears that too often residents have been assigned to specific projects on the basis of race ethnicity, why not take a real look at improving living conditions for poorer Americans?

Why don’t we begin exploring the possibility of doing away altogether with public housing projects? For example, poorer families could begin being accommodated in otherwise vacant homes and apartments in so-called better neighborhoods. Here, their children could have access to better schools, a wider range of youth services, increased chances of summer and part-time jobs, etc.

In 1968 analysts studied this possibility in connection with Washington’s Fort Lincoln “New Town in Town” project. The results of what was, admittedly, their theoretical analysis were amazing. It cost no more to provide shelter and food and other necessities on an equivalent annualized basis for a poorer family living in an available single-family residence in a “good” neighborhood than to subsidize the same family in a public housing project in a “bad” neighborhood.

Could we do this here in L.A. in 1992? If we could--even if there was a marginal increase in cost--wouldn’t it be worth it to provide poorer youngsters with a fair and equal chance to compete successfully with other youngsters on the way to becoming productive and responsible adults?

DAVID K. CARLISLE

Los Angeles


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