Friday, July 25, 2008

The Rebuttal To Atlantic Magazine

Our friend, Richard Thompson, at Mediaverse has an interesting post about a rebuttal from some well-known urban housing experts to the Atlantic magazine article linking Hope VI and Section 8 housing to Memphis' crime problem.

In a sentence, they said it's not about housing, but about too many poor young people. As a result, the bulge in that demographic tracks the bulge in the crime rate.

The most salient paragraphs jumped off the screen:

"In 1990, Memphis was a city of 618,652. The city’s poverty rate was 22.9 percent—139,767 people lived below poverty. By 2000, Memphis had grown to 650,100. Along with the rest of the nation, its poverty rate had declined—to 20.6 percent—or 133,920 people. By 2005, however, while the city’s population fell to 642,251, its poverty rate spiked to 23.6 percent—or 151,571 people. While the overall number of poor people increased by about 12 percent, the number of poor adolescents (12-17) increased by about 45 percent.

"If one is looking for a prime suspect for rising crime rates, there it is. Between 1990 and 2000, the number of violent crimes (murder, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault) increased slightly, from 9,085 to 9,610. By 2005, while the city population was falling, the number of violent crimes increased sharply—to 12,629."

This is an important discussion that we should all be part of, so we hope you'll check out Richard's post.


Zippy the giver said...

I can definitely believe that without the addresses of the prosecuted being supplied to the statistical corrlelation that there would be no way of proving causality. That doesn't mean it does not exist, that just means that it was not supplied or available, probably a legal technicality.
Personal experience in North Memphis leads me to believe that section 8 housing tenants absolutely were responsible for making their houses into headquarters for neighborhood crime. Our neighborhood assoc. knew where the perps lived and it was always a section 8 tenant, house, or voucher holder. That would lead one to believe tat the running of the program had absolutely no controls or used no oversight. Police reporting was extremely shoddy at best in that area. Most times they wouldn't show up to calls and when they did they would not make arrests even with eyewitneses present. The arrest reports are very low compared to the amount of crime that actually went on. There were many more aggravated assaults, attempted murders, drive by shootings, and narcotics sales that went unabated, stemming from section 8 tenants, houses, and voucher holders. The local city councilman stopped the police from making an arrest for an attempted murder when a man tried to run over a little boy during a national night out.
The city is as dirty as it has been reported, no, dirtier.

Anonymous said...

I find Thompson's rebuttal to be lacking in facts and data, and Zippy's anecdotal information seems to be a story I hear time and time again. MHA has the legal power to pull the section 8 vouchers for criminal offenders. I wonder how often they exercise that option, outside of the high profile, test tube neighborhoods like Uptown, where the threat of loosing vouchers because of misbehavior is constant. When is this city going to accept the fact that our crime and poverty issues cannot be swept under the rug?

Michael Hughes said...

Hey Anonymous-

If you feel so strongly than why are you posting anonymously? It seems quite similar to complaining about the government while not voting in the elections.

Zippy the giver said...

maybe they just haven't registered a google blogger account.
I can tell you from my own experience that we called MHA to do something and or send inspectors for years to come and inspect and they did little more than lip-service.
Every thug in the neighborhood went to this particular house and if you wanted to know where the other houses were all you would've had to do was follow the people who frequented that one. When we asked them to find out how many calls for domestic assault, assault, drugs, were made, the records mysteriously disappeared from MPD's database, and there were supposedly a lot of records because there were at least 75 calls. Another way to find section 8 houses was to follow the massive trail of litter, from the convenience/illicit drugs/prostitution stores in the area. the other way to find them was to look for a lot of people hanging out on the porch during normal working hours, paint peeling, severe lack of yard maintenance, people running to hide around back when the police come, unsupervised children under the age of 9 in the street almost being hit by cars and no one coming to the door when a neighbor comes to tell them, teen prostitutes hanging around suddenly, gunshots coming from their yards at all hours of the day or night, walking in the middle of the street, and fights breaking out in their yards or in the middle of the street, and a new "crack corner" pops up and the guy down the street is the guy standing there.
See those signs? You have a section 8 house nearby. Follow them to find it. Make no mistake about what I'm saying, you follow them, home or to a friend's house and that house will be a section 8 house or voucher holder. I took video of a girl-gang fight in front of my house and it got blasted all over the news, both sides were section 8 tenants. When that video came out, we decided to add all the section 8 houses up in the area and calculate how much below market value our houses were worth for a given area and add that and sue the city for it. When we told them of our plan THEN they started to do something about it.
Now, why people are posting anonymously, because I know our city council people that are still in office from this time, do the math, are rather prone to exact revenge for the truth getting out and shedding light on their graft.
How many years have they been in office and their immediate are not get any better? In fact the crime around their area has gotten worse. It's like the old John Belushi skit on Saturday Night Live,John says with a white powder mustache, "What, cocaine, going on here? where? It must have been going on right under my nose!". One councilman's office is directly in an area of recalcitrant offenders and drug houses that look like roach motels from the crack-heads running in and out. No kidding. Only the effects were devastating in our area and not so funny.
One third of the houses became vacant from people fleeing the completely unabated crime. There was a COACT (read NO ACT!) station there and there job was to prevent legitimate arrests from being made apparently. If one of their officers showed up, no arrest would ever be made. no matter what. If you called the precinct commander, she would say pooh pooh, too bad.
One community organization actually bought a 2 4-plexes and put section 8 people in it. They never collect rent, and the block and bldg. are known drug houses, drove good people off the block, then other people bought bldgs. on that block and did the same. The DEA got rid of the privately owned drug houses but someone stepped in the way of getting rid of the community organization owned bldg.
Now, why would people want to shoot down the truth in this situation? Because, it's a three way moneymaker. Drive the law abiding people out of an area at all costs and your family and friends can pick up the property cheap, till then, you can accept "shut up payments" and get payed twice, you can also suck up a lot more federal dollars if you aren't doing the federally required background checks on section 8 tenants, voucher holders, and housing providers.
If a Memphis education provides you a way to dig your way to hell on the backs of the innocent, breaking up families and destroying neighborhoods and families with drugs and unabated crime to feed your pockets, I'll stay an idiot.

Zippy the giver said...

To add to that, as if I need to, we stopped adding the cost of the blight in our small are of Memphis at 43 billion bucks, we could definitely add more.
Now, who do we sue for witholding services?

Smart City Consulting said...


Please read the report that Richard Thompson was excerpting. It's well worth reading

Zippy the giver said...

I did. It was upsetting-ish if not surprising.