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November 14, 1978 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1978-11-14

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Page 4-Tuesday, November 4, 1978--The Michigan Daily

The

American.

City

Seedbed of the*

post-industrial era . .

T1 "" T

By T.D. Allman
WASHINGTON - In Cleveland, a city supposedly
devastated by the urban crisis, the unemployment rate
falls to 6.8 per cent. In Atlanta, erstwhile workshop of the
New South, it is 7 per-cent, and it is even higher in Miami.
Crime declines by more than 5 per cent in one year all
across the Frostbelt. In Sun Belt cities such as Houston,
Phoenix and Atlanta, crime goes up.
New York adds more than 100,000 new jobs to its
payrolls; reported crimes decline by 26,505 in one six
month period. Over the same period Los Angeles has 7,025
more crimes to report than it did the year before; a
greater proportion of its workforce is out of a job than in
snowy Chicago. Meanwhile, the growth of new jobs in the
inner suburbs slows down-; in central cities all over the
country it increases. Many cities supposedly facing
bankruptcy suddenly find themselves with surpluses they
have trouble spending.
What is happening to U.S. cities? Only last year, when
concern over the "urban crisis" reached its peak, the
suburbs and Sun Belt seemed triumphant, the future of
urban civilization in Amercia bleak indeed. From Boston
to St. Louis one heard predictions that America's older
cities were going "black, brown and broke" as Msgr.
Geno Broni, a Carter administration official and long--
time community activist put it.
"While every American city is not tottering on the brink
of disaster," a group of big-city mayors warned, "all are
moving toward it."
Would cities become the clew Stonehenges, abandoned
relics of the pre-suburban age? Or would President
Carter, who had promised a "massive effort to achieve
the revitalization of our cities," come to the rescue?
Today federal officials, big city politicians and
urbanologists agree on two things that on the surface
seem totally paradoxical. The first is that the president's
urban programs-finally announced, after many delays,
last March-have had little' effect on cities at all. The
second thing on which they agree is ' that the urban
catastrophe scenario has failed to come true.
The many critics of the president's urban policy assert
that its provisions-ranging from a National Development
Bank to federal incentives for state aid to cities-were
either inadequate or irrelevant. But not even Jimmy
Carter's staunchest supporters suggest that his programs
have turned the urban tide. The reason: more than seven
months after the president told the country that the
"federal government has the clear duty to save our
cities," Congress adjourned for the November elections
without enacting one of Carter's major urban proposals.
Yet 1978 did not turn out to be the year the skyscrapers
on Wall Street or Detroit burned to the ground. Instead, in
Boston merchants vied avidly for rental space in the
newly-restored Quincy Market. In Baltimore, Washington
and San Francisco, white, middle-class professionals bid
up prices on houses and cooperative apartments in
districts only recently considered unsightly slums. In St.
Louis the unemployment rolls declined to nearly half their
1976 level, and in Newark-often considered the worst-off
American city--a research poll indicated that the vast
majority of the city's population was optimistic about the
future.
Both experts and officials now increasingly concur that
cities-far from being by-passed by events-once again
are at the center of the most vital forces affecting
American life.X
"I made a mistake when I propounded the abandonment
theory," said Rep. Parren Mitchell, D.-Md.; head of the
Black Congressional Caucus. Rep. William Moorhead, D.-
Pa., of Pittsburgh agrees with his Baltimore colleague.
"There has been a fundamental shift," according to
Moorhead, a prominent spokesman for inner-city
interests. "People are rediscovering, in a massive way,
the advantages of city life."
"For the next 20 years," adds Kenneth McLean, staff
director of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing
and Urban Affairs, "the good life in America will be
urban."
What accounts for this major change? On the simplest

level, cities-which always are most vulnerable to
cyclical swings in the national economy-have been
benefitting for the last two years from the nation's slow
but steady recovery from the severe recessions of the
early 1970s. Since the early 1970s, they also have become
major beneficiaries of massive federal spending-to the
extent that where Frostbelt politicians like Sen. Daniel
Patrick Moynihan, D.-N.Y., once complained that federal
spending patterns were robbing the urban poor to give to
the Sunbelt rich, now many fear that cities are turning
into "fiscal junkies," as Deborah Norelli Matz of the U.S.
Congress Joint Economic Committee puts it.
Sen. William Proxmire, D.-Wis., notes that even when
Congress fails to enact pro-city legislation such as the
president proposed, cities keep getting $80 billion a year in
mostly self-renewing federal spending. "Even when we
allow for inflation," he adds, "we now put about 10 times
more into our cities each year than we put into Europe
each year under the Marshall Plan."
Studies conducted by the Advisory Commission on
Intergovernmental Relations in Washington show that
over the last 10 years a fundamental shift has occurred in
the direction and magnitude of federal spending. Under
Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty federal money poured
into suburban and Sun Belt areas, but direct federal aid
accounted for only 1 per cent of the revenue raised by
local taxes in St. Louis, only 1.7 per cent in Newark and
only 2.1 per cent in Buffalo. Today St. Louis, Newark,
Buffalo, Cleveland, Baltimore, Philadelphia and Detroit
all get a minimum of 50 per cent of the money they spend
from Washington. Over the last two years alone federal
aid on a per capita basis has risen from $47 to $251 in
Newark and from $65 to $217 in Cleveland. Detroit gets
$248 a year from the federal government for every man,
woman and child in the city, Buffalo $218 and Baltimore
$258. Cities that once were shortchanged by the federal
government no longer are.
This inrush of federal money not only has helped cities,
it has also disproved some of the hoariest myths about
urban policy. Lyndon Johnson, for example, is supposed
to have spent so much money in so many cities to so little
effect that he proved "you can't solve problems by
throwing money at them." Meanwhile Presidents Richard
Nixon and Gerald Ford are supposed to have brought on
the urban crisis by cutting off the money. Studies now
make it clear that under the War on Poverty the federal
government was still sucking out so much revenue from
the older cities, and sending it to the suburbs and Sun Belt,
that no amount of Great Society programs could
compensate for the loss. But under Johnson's two
Republican successors, federal spending in cities
accelerated even as Great Society programs were
curtailed. And under Carter, the tendency of federal

spending to gain both velocity and mass, even when
Congress fails to enact specific programs, is
demonstrating that many urban problems can indeed be
solved when enough money is thrown at them.
While cities now are beneficiaries of the upswing in
the economy where they once were victims -of recession
and are getting federal tax dollars that once went to the
Sun Belt and suburbs, many urban experts concur that
even broader forces are now converging on cities. They
say the talk of urban doom was outdated even when city
problems seemed most hopeless.
"There always is a gap of at least several years
betweenthe problem and the political perception of it,"
says Roger Vaughan, an economist who has conducted
studies of urban problems for the Rand Corp. "I work on
the assumption that if a problem suddenly starts
provoking grave public concern, it already is being
solved." Vaughan remembers how pollution became the
raging public concern at the time the real problem for
most cities was the flight of industry; how the energy
crisis made headlines only as the greatest oil glut in
history was mounting.
"It was the same way with the urban crisis," Vaughan
says. "By the time we became aware of Sun Belt shift, it
already was beginning to ebb. We were too busy suddenly
discovering what harm we had done to cities in the 1950s
and 1960s to notice that, in the 1970s, events had started to
favor cities again."
Demographic studies in fact indicate that many
national trends that once hurt cities are now helping
them-and that situations that once seemed like major
national problems have created some important new
urban opportunities. "The energy crisis may be a crisis
for the suburbs," points out Mayor Kenneth Gibson of
Newark, "but in many ways it is a help to cities. Peoplea
are beginning to discover that apartments are cheaper to
heat than suburban split levels and that it can be not only
pleasant but economical to walk to work."
The deindustrialization of the American economy is
another example of a major crisis that in the long run may
help cities. A decade ago the flight of factory jobs from
cities to suburbs, and of investment capital from
downtown areas to theSun Belt, did confront many cities
with a major, often very traumatic economic
transformation. But today it is not cities that have to
worry about losing industrial jobs, if only because so
many have been lost already. Instead the suburbs and Sun
Belt face a loss of jobs to such foreign countries as Brazil
and South Korea. Cities that once seemed like graveyards
of the Industrial Revolution increasinelv resemble the
seedbeds of the post-industrial society.
-"We won't get back the old industrial jobs," comments
Rep. Moorhead, "but cities will greatly benefit from the

massive increase in service sector jobs. Today
Pittsburgh, the biggest single employer isn't.U.S. Steel,
the government bureaucracy. It's the University
Pittsburgh."
Others perceive an even more dynamic future for th
cities. According to Franz Schurmann, director of thA
University of California Third Centruy America Project
cities, far from being left behind by events, are becomin,
"the nodal points in a great transition not just o
American society, but of the whole world economy.'
Following a two-year study sponsored by the Ford
Foundation, Schurmann has concluded that U.S. cities are
acting as powerful economic magnets whose attraction is
felt as far away as the poverty-stricken barrios of Latin
America and the oil-rich sheikdoms of the Persian Gulf
While others speak of the illegal alien problem and the
petrodollar crisis, Schurmann has concluded that the
convergence of so many new international forces in
American cities is creating urban opportunities of a
magnitude not seen since the 19th century, when the
volatile mixture of European immigration and the
development of America's own vast resources
transformed towns such as New York and Chicago into
world-class cities in a matter of decades.
Yet to treat this urban renaissance" as an unmitigated
blessing is to substitute one oversimplistic conventional
wisom for another. The many new changes overtaking
urban society are clearly double-edged. Most
urbanologists, for example, consider the return of affluent
white professionals to inner-city neighborhoods a major
index of urban recovery. But in the Crown Heights section
of Brooklyn, a poor, working-class district, residents
complain that their city services are being cut to meet the
demand in nearby Park Slope, a new affluent professional
neighborhood. Some see the declining populations- of
inner-city ghettos and the movement of blacks to the
suburbs as a triumph for integration. But many black
leades are concerned that hard-won black political gains
in inner cities will be eroded as poor, non-white people are
displaced from revived city centers.
And there is the added risk in the era of the taxpayer's
revolt that the positive developments in cities today will-
be used as an excuse for depriving both cities and their
neediest inhabitants of aid at a time when it is still
desperately needed. "City schools and capital stocks ae
in terrible condition," noted Deborah Matz. "Congress
just failed to renew urban programs that provided
thousands of people with jobs. The talk of urban revival,"
she warns, "could hurt cities as much as the talk of the
deathofcities ever did."
T.D. Allman, east coast editor of Pacific News
Service, is a contributing editor of Harper's.

...And for some,,

displacemen t

By Thomas Brom

The sales leaflet reads, "Good people
are coming to live in DeBaliviere
Place."
Once a mixed, low-income section of
downtown St. Louis, the neighborhood
became part of the Pershing Waterman
redevelopment project. St. Louis spent
federal money to restore the classic
architecture of the buildings and then
invited "urban pioneers" to buy
condominiums in the area.
The brochures say nothing about the
people" who used to live in the
DeBaliviere Place. Whether or not they
were "good people," the federal

420 Maynard St., Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Eighty-Nine Years of Editorial Freedom
LXXXIX, No. 59 News Phone: 764-055
Edited and managed by students at the University of Michigan

Vol.

2

A defensive defense

government moved them out just as
surely as if local Housing and Urban
Development officials helped pack
their bags.
The Pershing project is but one
example-of a massive cross-migration
now affecting many U.S. cities: Young
professionals are moving in, federal
spending often initiates the process and
keeps it gpoing once private developers
enter the market.
"HUD is in league with local officials
to bring the middle class back to the
cities," charges Edward Kirshner,
urban economist and director of the
non-profit Community Economics Inc.
in Oakland, Calif.
"The pattern of HUD-sponsored
investments is clearly directed at
breaking up concentratons of poor and
ethnic people in the central city. HUD is
not concerned with where former
residents go; it would be even better for
local government if poor people moved
out of the cities entirely."
The removal of the urban poor is not
supposed to happen as a result of
federally assisted housing
development. HUD claims that
displaced families represent only 3.8
per cent of the total population of
movers between 1974-76 and that
government-related displacement is
only a small percentage of that.
"There are no programs that
displace the poor at the magnitude
of the old urban renewal projects," said
Harvey Kroll, regional HUD economist
in San Francisco.
The removal process is now
much more subtle. It involves federal
subsidies, local government, and
private developers acting together to
up-grade neighborhoods rather than the
people living in them.
Current federal programs, ranging
from low-interest rehabilitation loans
to Community Development Block
Grants, are often used by local
governments to increase the tax base
by attracting middle and upper-
income development.
With few exceptions there are no
limits on the income of those who
receive the federal loans and no limits
on the rents or resale prices they can
charge after rehabilitation. Nor are
there limits on private speculation in
areas targeted for subsidies, nor any
attempt to limit the disruptive effect of
major commercial development on
older residential neighborhoods.
As a result of federal intervention,
market values of inner city real estate
increases dramatically, driving up

is not just an unfortunate by-product of
individual hpsing decisions by middle-
income consumers.
"Reinvestment and displacement us
the direct and inevitable result of
deliberate goverment programs," said
Frances Werner, a displacement
specialist at the Housing Law Project.
"The programs include central
business district renewal and
commercial revitalization, public
transit, historic preservation and
upper-income housing development.
But for these heavily subsidized
programs, there would be no 'sudden'
interest by middle-income persons in
urban residency."
Werner believes there is a basic
contradiction between HUD's promise
to minimize the removal of low-income
residents and the agency's save-the-
cities strategies, which rely on
attracting more affluent residents to
revitalize the urban tax base. The
tension between these two forces was
apparent at a HUD-sponsored
Consumer Forum on Displacement
held late last month in Washington D.C.
"We cannot hope to expand the
housing supply by providing new
housing for low-income groups,"
Patrick Hare, a planning consultant
from Hartford, Conn., reported at the
meeting. "The housing supply will have
to be expanded by stimulating use of
private capital to build new housing for
the middle class."
Hare is a proponent of classic
filtration theory, which governs much
of the U.S. housing policy. According to
this view, government should support
the construction and rehabilitation of
middle and upper-income housing to
attract families moving up the social
ladder, while poorer families move into
the houses left behind. Hare urges
housing planners to "shake off the
hang-over of guilt many still have from
the civil rights movement" and
"overcome their knee-quiver reaction
to advocacy groups."
David Goldfriend, a professor at
Virginia Polytechnic Institute,
described displacement as emerging
"like Banquo's ghost to haunt the feast
of neighborhood redevelopment." He
articulated the popular theory of
natural neighborhood turnover, a
variety of social Darwinism by which
the strongest groups- take the best
neighborhoods.
"Maintaining the poor in their
present neighborhoods seems
somewhat manipulative," he said.
"The 'Little Italy's that remained for
cea Uanerantifnsw ereexcentionsn t

do is encourage this process in an
orderly fashion and assist those being
displaced to relocate or remain in the
neighborhood."
To some extewnt, HUD's hands are
tied by the powerful lobbies in the
Congress that promote urban
revitaliza'tion - and poor people
removal - as rapidly as possible.
"The Housing Act of 1974
decentralized housing and community
development finance," said Dennia
Keating, a housing law instructor at
San Francisco State Univertsity.
"Local government now has the
power to allocate federal dollars, and
HUD is off the hook. Groups like the
U.S. Conference of Mayors and the
National League of Cities opposes and
HUD interference in how local
government spends Community
Development Block Grant (CDBG) or
Urban Development Block Grant
(UDAG) money."
For examply, when HUD Secretary
Patricia Harris proposed strict
regulations last year that would target
75 per cent of the $3 billion Community
Development Program for the benefit
of low-income groups, Congress
retaliated by demanding legislative
review of all HUD guidelines. The final
rules were watered down considerably
from those proposed by- Harris. and
neighborhood advocated within HUD.
HUD officials also plead impotence.
saying that government programs have
only a limited impact on the private
housing market. "We don't have that
much influence," said economist Kroll.
"We follow the market, we don't guide
it.''
But many critics disagree. "HUD is
not preventing displacement 'from
happening, even when it has rules
saying it shouldn't occur," said Bryson,
the UC Housing Law Project lawyer.
"Ultimately the agency is responsible
because it distributes the money to
local government."
One of the difficulties in determining
HUD's intentions over the
displacement issue is the agency's lack
of overall direction. "There is no
articulate theory of housing and
community development which would
help connect goals and programs,"
charged Dr. Conrad Weiler, in a
January 1978 study commissioned by
HUD.
"The results reinforce the American
tendency toward neighborhood
homogeneity, residential mobility,
promotion of new middle-income
housing,sthe growth of municipal
bureaucracies, . the resurgency of

EVERAL YEARS AGO the entire
western third of the United States
-was accidentally alerted for an
impending nuclear attack. Some
serviceman made a mistake and
pushed the wrong button. Instead of
setting up the usual practice
procedures the button pushed should
have alerted that portion of the country
that nuclear attack was imminent. But
it did not work. No one believed that
nuclear attack could be imminent.
Radio stations did not even interrupt
their broadcasts with prepared tapes
supplied from the Emergency
Broadcasting System.
The incident highlights some of the
inadequacies of this country's civil
defense preparedness. A secret White
House document, issued last month,
calls for civil defense expenditures to
be doubled over the next five years.
This much-needed program will need
congressional approval. But since

centers - the most primary defense
need. The Pentagon and the
Department of Defense have talked
about defense capability in solely
offensive terms, totally disregarding
the protection of millions of citizens.
Certainly the advanced civil
preparedness program in the Soviet
Union should be viewed with the same
alarm in defense circles in this country
as a missile gap. The strategic
advantage of the ability to evacuate
millions of people should be readily
evident. That ability could discourage
a first strike by a foreign power.
The study that lead to the secret
White House document suggests that
the evacuation procedures could be
linked to other civil preparedness
needs, like responses to natural
disasters. A single program that would
prepare the country for either
possibility would be an effective use of
the tax dollar. The United States

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