Public housing and crime rates

The Takeaway

More and more people will be searching for affordable housing, especially the poor. Many will turn to the government for help.

An article in "Atlantic Monthly" magazine has kicked off a firestorm of controversy. Author Hanna Rosin ties the demolition of public housing projects to a rise in crime in the city of Memphis. Rosin’s critics say she uses circumstantial evidence to unfairly implicate former residents of public housing.

According to Rosin, the government programs that moved people out of the projects into nearby neighborhoods were poorly funded, and people from the projects moved out " ... in a chaotic fashion, not in a controlled way, and what happened was the police couldn't keep up with these new patterns."

Rosin says she came to the conclusion that there was definitely a connection between public housing and crime in Memphis: " ... while it was nobody's fault, and nobody looked out for it, and there were some great things that came about as a result of Section 8 vouchers and breaking down the housing projects ... but basically it had this unintended effect of tipping a lot of other neighborhoods around the city into ... crime and dysfunction."

Guests: Hanna Rosin, author of "American Murder Mystery" in the July/August 2008 "Atlantic Monthly," and Xavier de Souza Briggs, Associate Professor of Sociology and Urban Planning at MIT.

"The Takeaway" is PRI's new national morning news program, delivering the news and analysis you need to catch up, start your day, and prepare for what’s ahead. The show is a co-production of WNYC and PRI, in editorial collaboration with the BBC, The New York Times Radio, and WGBH.

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