I recently watched a documentary in another class about the Pruit-Igoe public housing project that consisted of a series of buildings that were built in St. Louis, Missouri in the early 1950’s. It was designed to give low-income families a place to live mainly to eliminate overcrowding in the downtown area, but the project only survived about 20 years until the first building of Pruit-Igoe was demolished.
Extremely high rates of crime occurred in the housing project, which is the main reason why it failed so early on. In an article about the projects and why they failed the author stated, “The residents that remained had to act tough for the chance to come and go unmolested.” Obviously this is very unsafe if the residents can’t even leave without worrying about getting raped. While some of the residents appreciated greatly the opportunity they had to live in these affordable housing complexes, others took advantage of it and ultimately destroyed it. It’s hard to believe that some people are so ungrateful for their opportunity that they just break the windows in the housing that was given to them at a much lower rate than other apartment complexes. One of the design aspects talked about in this article is that the elevators only stopped on specific floors in order to encourage the residents to take the stairs and socialize with one another, the elevators gave “the perfect opportunity for mugging.”
Although this happened in the 50’s and 60’s, planners should think about safety when developing housing projects and something that goes along with safety is education. Something that is common among low-income families is their education level, which may not be very high since they’re not making enough money to afford their lifestyle. Education is very important and building affordable housing near good schools will give the children of low-income families an actual opportunity to better themselves and their future an avoid having a low-income family of their own. For example, too many people are having children they cannot afford then expecting everything to be handed to them at an almost free rate of charge. If these people were better educated then maybe they will realize that it is not a good idea to have another child if they cannot even afford their rent. If more people had a proper education then maybe affordable housing would work the way it’s supposed to, the way everyone wants it to.