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City Journal on Fixing Public Housing

2:18 PM, Dec 2, 2010 • By MICHAEL WARREN
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In the latest issue of City Journal, Howard Husock writes about the successes of the Atlanta Housing Authority and profiles the head of the AHA, Renee Glover:

...Since 1994, Glover, a child of Jim Crow–era Jacksonville, Florida, has led the Atlanta Housing Authority (AHA)—the nation’s fifth-largest public-housing system, with 50,000 tenants and voucher recipients, 99 percent of them, like her, African-American. She has drawn national recognition for the fact that during her tenure, Atlanta became the first city in the United States to tear down virtually all its projects. But Glover’s plan is far more ambitious than demolition: she has set out to transform the dysfunctional behavior that condemns people to languish for years in public housing. Her approach is the most dramatic change in any city’s public-housing system since Franklin Roosevelt created the program in 1937.

Whole piece here.

Here's Glover in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution last July touting the "Atlanta Model" Husock describes in his piece:

...with greater deregulation provided by the federal government, the authority provides long-term counseling and coaching to families as they move into mainstream neighborhoods, resulting in an easier and more realistic transition to the mainstream for affected families. That same flexibility has allowed the authority to attract landlords from throughout the city and not just the poorer areas, facilitating real choices for housing.

Another ingredient to a successful housing program is high expectations. In Atlanta, we have a work requirement for all non-elderly, nondisabled adults receiving housing assistance. The result? The employment rate among our client families is indistinguishable from the general population.

For the city that once experienced the horrors of Techwood Homes, the nation's first public housing community, and a hotbed of gang violence and crime from the 1970s until its 1996 demolition, any improvement on the government housing front is welcome. And in light of the David Brooks-Paul Ryan- Arthur Brooks debate about size of government, the reforms Glover is pushing in Atlanta seem to reflect a marriage of pro-market values and limited government with an energetic governmental response to a societal problem.

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