Talk all you want to about "personal responsibility" and taking advantage of opportunities that come your way, but if you are a child and your neighborhood looks like this and operates in a totally dysfunctional manner largely due to its infrastructure failings, what real chance do you have of moving forward in any truly productive manner?
I took these photos in one of the South Dallas neighborhoods where we work every day.
Three realities are very, very clear here.
First, with a few rare exceptions and excluding the Habitat homes, the majority of the housing stock is in terrible disrepair. Much of it is uninhabitable, even though folks are trying to make homes in some of these structures.
Second, vacant lots where homes once stood are everywhere. In one section of this neighborhood many contiguous lots form large open spaces that are ripe for new development, but for the horrible surrounding properties.
Third, when a neighborhood "tips over" like this to the negative side of the ledger, nothing will change until public policy solutions are agreed upon and implemented. Only a major commitment from the public institutions of our larger community will allow this community to live again.
The City of Dallas should be ashamed to continue to carry this "housing" in its community portfolio. The City should muster the political and economic will to bring this area back. Such a move will involve the investment of millions of dollars in mortgage assistance funding and in infrastructure improvements and developers' incentives.
While the cost will be high, the price of doing nothing will turn out to be much more expensive in terms of human loss--crime, delinquency, deteriorating health, educational failures and dropouts and environmental impact.
The City has ignored this neighborhood long enough.
Take a look again.
Can you believe this is Dallas, Texas, the "can do" city?
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Larry James' Urban Daily
A repository of ideas, resources, commentary and opinions concerning the issues facing low-income residents of the inner cities of the United States and how mainstream America largely forgets or, worse, ignores the day-to-day realities of urban life for the so-called "poor." Written and edited by the President & CEO of CitySquare. Please visit CitySquare.
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