By George Capsis

Below is an excellent history of U.S. public housing by our gifted Architecture Editor, Brian Pape. The article was prompted by the now year-long discussion here in New York to take government out of the building and maintaining of housing for the permanently poor and to invite developers via a competitive Request for Proposal (RFP ) to build apartment buildings that would compete with other apartment buildings seeking to rent to tenants willing and able to pay, and continue to pay, market rates, and then have 30% of the apartments made available to New York’s two million permanently poor.

Most of the objections to this solution have been prompted by the utter failure of the City to maintain public housing. (WNBC has a podcast showing swarming rats running over a kitchen sink and worst of all a baby on a nightly feeding tube exhibiting scars from sharing the tube with the rats through the night.)

There is no question that massive public housing does not work. The City Council and current NYCHA management continue to make obsequious noises as they invite NYCHA activists to voice their solution, which is essentially tax the rich and fix our NYCHA.

I am betting that the city will go ahead and carve out a plot on the Fulton housing campus and build New York’s first mixed income building and then go on to demolish and rebuild all of the buildings to arrive at the first neighborhood in New York that integrates incomes by law.

I am a firm believer that laws designed to correct a social inequity in one decade create social inequities of their own in the next—take rent control—so I’m anxious about buildings with legally enforced integration. The sprawl of NYCHA needs to be ended and the buildings demolished so, OK, let’s have enforced 70-30 integration.

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