Sapiens

How the aftermath of public housing became an education in the rights and duties of belonging to the city

There was a lot of optimism, without thinking about, ‘What is a viable community?’” says anthropologist Catherine Fennell at Columbia University. Fennell has spent years documenting the stories of residents in these new mixed-income units, and she shares these stories in her book Last Project Standing.

Fennell’s encounters revealed residents frustration at being displaced, the unraveling of generations-old social networks, and—for both public housing residents and market-rate renters—the challenge of navigating new social expectations in a blended setting. While the Plan has improved certain aspects of residents’ lives, the hardships they face during ongoing transitions to mixed-income housing can also guide future city efforts to create and preserve healthy communities.

 

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