The Cheery Tree Crossing episode is a public embarrassment for the decent people living downtown. The most damning problem for this city, like New Orleans and Memphis, is that we have hot spots of too many multi-generational welfare people. Until we compassionately and strategically displace more of them with educated, upwardly mobile people, there is going to be a downtown public relations and crime problem.
Private gentrification, not HUD or federal funding, is the answer.
Landlords are accepting that Section 8 check solely because it is a sure thing, without realizing the possible future "ghettoizing" that has occurred when too many Section 8 families cluster. These landlords are invariably killing the golden-egg laying goose and slinging out the slippery infant with the grey water.
The findings are out. Please Google "Section 8" and "crime."
Spare me the passe argument about gentrification causing segregation. This is a moot issue, because in 2009 there is a robust middle-through-upper-class African-American population who will make splendid, welcomed downtown gentrifiers.
The Memphis Flyer explains the variables associated with urban decline, and more importantly the possible remedies: http://www.memphisflyer.com/memphis/Content?oid=oid%3A47488
Augusta's largest bedroom community has come unto its own with a town teaming with commerce and a pedestrian-friendly housing stock about to explode with foreclosure opportunities for Augusta's underclass. It is time that Columbia County leadership attain block grants and make affordable space for generational welfare recipients. On this coming Martin Luther King national holiday, Columbia County leaders need to do more than honor a great leader. They must embrace change. Justice must be and will be served.
Harrisburg Organization Networking for Gentrification to Keep Our Neighborhood from becoming a Ghetto