2002 volume 20(5) pages 581 – 596

Cite as:
Crump J, 2002, "Deconcentration by demolition: public housing, poverty, and urban policy" Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 20(5) 581 – 596

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Deconcentration by demolition: public housing, poverty, and urban policy

Jeff Crump

Received 1 May 2000; in revised form 26 June 2001

Abstract. During the 1990s, local and federal urban policymakers, neoliberal politicians, and advocates for the poor came to a broad consensus: the geographic concentration of low-income, minority residents in public housing projects located in the inner city constitutes the fundamental problem facing US cities. Accordingly, to solve the problems allegedly associated with the spatial concentration of poverty, public housing, which concentrates low-income people in the inner city, must be demolished and the residents relocated. In this paper I argue that such federal public housing policies are based on a conceptually inadequate understanding of the role of space and of spatial influences on poverty and on the behavior of poor people. The use of spatial metaphors such as the 'concentration of poverty' or the 'deconcentration of the poor' disguises the social and political processes behind poverty and helps to provide the justification for simplistic spatial solutions to complex social, economic, and political problems.

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