The Politics of Public Housing: Black Women's Struggles Against Urban Inequality

Rhonda Y. Williams, Author Oxford University Press, USA $99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-19-515890-8
Clara Gordon was 10 years old when she moved to Baltimore, Md., with her mother and three siblings. It was 1925, and the family's hopes for better opportunities were limited by segregation, meager wages and exorbitant rents in alley row houses. When New Deal programs brought government intervention into the housing market, poor whites and blacks alike viewed subsidized housing as part of the government's ""promise to protect and provide."" Though more resources went to white developments, Williams says, housing projects for blacks were also constructed; Clara herself moved into Baltimore's Poe Houses in 1940. An associate history and women's studies professor at Case Western Reserve, Williams reveals how quickly problems--with shoddy construction, inattentive managers, inadequate services--arose in subsidized housing. Her carefully researched volume chronicles the personal lives and political activism of the low-income women who voiced their claims for ""rights, respect, and representation"" in public housing and beyond. Using personal histories culled from more than 50 interviews, Williams vividly demonstrates these women's setbacks and triumphs. The city of Baltimore provides the backdrop for a penetrating analysis of the rise of public housing, poverty politics and community activism from the 1940s to the 1970s. While it will appeal primarily to an academic audience, this is a valuable look at social welfare policy.
Reviewed on: 09/06/2004
Release date: 09/01/2004
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-0-19-530651-4
Open Ebook - 321 pages - 978-1-4237-2036-2
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