Thursday, January 07, 2010

Beware Of Feds Bearing Gifts

While doing research on another much more in depth post, I came to realise how much our current cities and landscapes had been shaped by projects born in the last great economic downturn when the Federal Government offered to "stimulate" and improve cities.

Few were as eager for the cash as Newark, New Jersey. "Newark pursued Federal Funds".

"The city made serious mistakes with public housing and urban renewal, although these were not the sole causes of Newark's tragedy. Across several administrations, the city leaders of Newark considered the federal government's offer to pay for 100% of the costs of housing projects as a blessing. The decline in industrial jobs meant that more poor people needed housing, whereas in prewar years, public housing was for working class families. While other cities were skeptical about putting so many poor families together and were cautious in building housing projects, Newark pursued federal funds. Eventually, Newark had a higher percentage of its residents in public housing than any other American city."

No doubt, there was a short "boom" and and many jobs tearing down neighborhoods and constructing "transportation improvements", like the mass of Highways that cut through the city.

"Billed as transportation improvements, construction of new highways: Interstate 280, the New Jersey Turnpike, and Interstate 78 harmed Newark. They directly hurt the city by dividing the fabric of neighborhoods and displacing many residents. The highways indirectly hurt the city because the new infrastructure made it easier for middle-class workers to live in the suburbs and commute into the city."

Not sayin this what's in store-- thankfully because government's at all levels are too broke, but watch out for that "free stuff". It often costs more than you think.

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