Cabrini-Green Homes before demolition, Source: Google.com

In Chapter 7 of City of Rhetoric by David Fleming; he talks about how the majority of society see thoses that live in public housing projects and the assumptions that are made about the communities and the people that live in them. Fleming uses the the example of Chicago’s Cabrini Green Homes to further elaborate his point as to as how the residents of public housing in this country are denied basic rights and they aren’t even given the choice to decide as a community how they want to develop their environment. The people of Cabrini Green, a public housing project in Chicago, are constantly “othered” from the rest of society in three ways. The first way people in the community are othered is by them being represented as people that are lesser than the majority of society, secondly, the neighborhoods in which they live are depicted as unruly and out of hand, and thirdly, the residents are denied stay for long periods of time in these neighborhoods.

The conditions of a lot of public housing communities such as Cabrini Green went very bad due to the lack of care from the government. A high level of crime and violence went on in these neighborhoods and eventually because self governed by the residents themselves as tension grew with the Chicago PD. In an effort to try to prevent urban revitalization of this particular building residents proposed that the building be turned into a co-op where they are homeowners and they work together democratically. This was the best option for the current residents due to the fact that the building then wouldn’t be demolished and they wouldn’t have to move out and find another place to live or yet worse, be without a place to live entirely. Sadly, the proposal was rejected by the City of Chicago Department of Housing and by the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) and the Cabrini Green Homes were demolished to forward the city of Chicago’s mission of Urban Renewal and revitalization . The last residents were finally forced out in December 2010.

What happened at Cabrini Green is an all too typical narrative that Fleming details in chapter 7 of his book; residents of public housing neighborhoods are already seen as less than the majority of people and then when they try to stand up to protect one of the few things that is theirs, it gets taken away from them. Public Housing Projects such as  Cabrini Green Homes and those alike are neglected by the government just like the people that live in them are and the residents are left to try to survive there without any assistance or care. Despite being isolated and neglected by the government Cabrini Green residents and other public housing residents would rather rehabilitate the area in which they live, rather than being forced out on the streets and have their building be demolished. Through urban revitalization not only are people’s communities and homes being taken away  that live in public housing but so are their basic rights, their voices and their sense of humanity.

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