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Download From the Puritans to the Projects: Public Housing and Public Neighbors epub

by Lawrence J. Vale

From the almshouses of seventeenth-century Puritans to the massive housing projects of the mid-twentieth century, the struggle over housing assistance in the United States has exposed a deep-seated ambivalence about the place of the urban poor. Lawrence J. Vale's groundbreaking book is both a comprehensive institutional history of public housing in Boston and a broader examination of the nature and extent of public obligation to house socially and economically marginal Americans during the past 350 years.

First, Vale highlights startling continuities both in the way housing assistance has been delivered to the American poor and in the policies used to reward the nonpoor. He traces the stormy history of the Boston Housing Authority, a saga of entrenched patronage and virulent racism tempered, and partially overcome, by the efforts of unyielding reformers. He explores the birth of public housing as a program intended to reward the upwardly mobile working poor, details its painful transformation into a system designed to cope with society's least advantaged, and questions current policy efforts aimed at returning to a system of rewards for responsible members of the working class. The troubled story of Boston public housing exposes the mixed motives and ideological complexity that have long characterized housing in America, from the Puritans to the projects.

Download From the Puritans to the Projects: Public Housing and Public Neighbors epub
ISBN: 067402575X
ISBN13: 978-0674025752
Category: History
Subcategory: Americas
Author: Lawrence J. Vale
Language: English
Publisher: Harvard University Press (September 30, 2007)
Pages: 482 pages
ePUB size: 1399 kb
FB2 size: 1915 kb
Rating: 4.5
Votes: 216
Other Formats: rtf azw mbr doc

In this easy to read book, "From the Puritans To The Projects (Harvard University Press) Dr. Lawrence Vale has described and defined the problem of how people in Massachusetts have tried to deal with the much less fortunate people in our society. Vale starts with Gov. John Winthrop's talk to his fellow Pilgrims on the Mayflower, before they landed on the shores of Massachusetts Bay, admonishing them to be kind to the "public neighbors." He takes the students of history, social services and urban development through the many social and planning experiments that have been tried in Boston, New York and Chicago right up to the middle 1990's. Vale shows all of the political and socio-economic bickering that went on throughout the country and especially in Boston, including the racial strife as public housing was developed and started to be mainstreamed. I would highly recommend this book to anyone with even a little bit of interest in the unvarnished history of this country.
This text examines the evolving definition of the term 'public' in relation to urbanism and the term's impact on the physical and social development of American cities. The chapters are essentially written as lengthy articles examining particular periods of history, but read as an informative serial.
Although the focus is on Boston's history of housing the poor, this book illustrates the national ambivalence toward caring for our poor .
Dense but good
Vale's marvelously detailed history of public housing in Boston from the early Puritan settlements to the present day tells the story of our "alternating current of compassion and hostility" toward the poor in the U.S. Through his exploration of public housing in Boston, Vale writes a compelling sociological history of the tensions inherent in the American dream of home ownership, government subsidy vs. free enterprise, and most valuable of all explores the ideology of homeownership and its bearing on citizenship. Dense, meditative, often wryly humorous, this is a deeply researched work which yields uncommon insights about mythic American values of community as expressed through public housing and public spaces.
Particularly well-rendered is the recurring theme of how the government used its powers to dispense and dispose of land to reward certain Americans. The U.S. soldier was the first, and continues to be, a singular actor in this drama of service and reward. In the Jeffersonian post-revolutionary war period, veterans were rewarded with grants of land. In so doing, the government empowered these men to do the work of settling the frontier -- who better to perform such a task than those already trained in war? Civil War veterans were similarly rewarded.
From there, other "deserving" populations were rewarded with housing -- those who demonstrated their commitment to an American standard of behavior: industriousness, cleanliness, responsiblity being some of the key attributes for qualification for early public housing. Vale describes, for instance, how public housing developments in the Depression and postwar era were also used by politicians to reward their supporters, especially deserving working-class poor families who fit a traditional dual parent, father/provider schematic.
The early chapters exploring the city fathers erection and administration of jails, insane asylums, shelters for the poor, and the concomitant rise the settlement movement and the social worker are particularly well-rendered. Great illustrations, too!