Is Housing Program For Poor Linked To Crime Rise In Many Cities?


Falling crime rates have been one of the great American success stories of the past 15 years, says The Atlantic. Lately, though, a new and unexpected pattern has emerged, taking criminologists by surprise. While crime rates in large cities stayed flat, homicide rates in many midsize cities began increasing, sometimes by as much as 20 percent a year. Some of the most dangerous spots are now places where Martin Scorsese would never think of staging a shoot-out–Florence, S.C.; Charlotte-Mecklenburg, N.C.; Kansas City; Reading, Pa. Orlando, Fl, and Memphis.

Why has Elvis's hometown turned into America's new South Bronx? Police Lt. Doug Barnes thinks he knows one big part of the answer, as does the city's chief of police. A handful of local criminologists and social scientists think they can explain it, too. But it's a dismal answer, one that city leaders have made clear they don't want to hear. It's an answer that offers up racial stereotypes to fearful whites in a city trying to move beyond racial tensions. It reaches beyond crime and implicates one of the most ambitious antipoverty programs of recent decades. The Atlantic suggests that the problem is rooted in a national program to replace housing projects with vouchers. “People were moved too quickly, without any planning, and without any thought about where they would live, and how it would affect the families or the places,” said one expert.


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