Standards Versus Struggle: The Failure of Public Housing and the Welfare-State Impulse

Social Philosophy and Policy 14 (2):69 (1997)
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In considering the development and course of the American welfare state, there are some places which are better starting points than others. One such place is the State Street corridor, the series of high-rise Chicago Housing Authority public-housing projects which loom over Lake Michigan. Most Chicagoans, like their counterparts in other cities, have become inured to conditions there: a murder rate far in excess of that of the city as a whole, a society of unemployed single mothers, deferred maintenance that makes stairwells, plazas, and elevators places of danger. Author Alex Kotlowitz decribes the situation of a mother of two boys in Chicago's Henry Horner Homes: “She lived in daily fear that something might happen to her young ones.… Already that year, 57 children had been killed in the city, five in the Horner area, including two, aged eight and six, who died from smoke inhalation when firefighters had to climb the 14 stories to their apartment. Both of the building's elevators were broken.”



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