What Creating a Stable Neighborhood Really Means by Alan Mallach, Senior Fellow, Center for Community Progress

May 21, 2013

Originally posted by Alan Mallach in National Housing Institute’s Rooflines Blog, May 14, 2013.

Community Progress Senior Fellow, Alan Mallach, discusses the basic principles of neighborhood stabilization and what actions cities should be taking to achieve it in Rooflines, the Shelterforce/National Housing Institute blog.

Last month I wrote about why Project Rebuild is basically a bad idea, and why the Obama administration is making a mistake by trying to refloat it once again, rather than taking a fresh look at the question. This month and next month I’m going to suggest what a real federal neighborhood stabilization program might look like. In this post I’m going to start with some basic principles, and next month try to translate them into what such a program might look like.

First, what is it, exactly, that we’re trying to accomplish?

In some respects, the term ‘a stable neighborhood’ is a misnomer. No American neighborhood is literally stable, in the sense that nothing changes, and people are born and die in the same house. Urban neighborhoods constantly change, and constantly confront problems and challenges; as Jane Jacobs wrote, however, “a successful city neighborhood is a place that keeps sufficiently abreast of its problems so it is not destroyed by them.”

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