From the B.A. Watkins blog, originally posted 7/7/2013 by Barry Watkins
Creating Humane Living Environments
It really bugs me when I see public housing projects that are so obviously public housing projects. Many places are dilapidated with boarded up windows and rusty broken play equipment, or are surrounded by 6′ high chain-link fences topped with prison-style barbed wire. Do the people making decisions on how to build or maintain public housing even think about what it is like to live there? Is our system run by people who just don’t care? Or maybe they just need a few good ideas.
What if we could help to make public and subsidized housing more humane and pleasant places to live? Shouldn’t we strive for that if only for the sake of the children growing up there? But how can we improve these neighborhoods? I think there are actually some good answers we can find if we look for them.
A few thoughts… Limit the number of low-income units in a neighborhood. Seek to create an economic balance by providing a variety of lot sizes, unit, and building types within every neighborhood. Blend government and subsidized housing right in with market-rate units and don’t set different standards for them than the rest of the neighborhood residences. In existing neighborhoods that have an overbalance of low income units, start converting some units to market rate over time and provide new replacement low income units in nearby mixed-income neighborhoods.
What do you think? Please chime in with comments! I would love to hear from you!