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Learning from St. Thomas: Community, Capital, and the Redevelopment of Public Housing in New Orleans

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Current efforts to redevelop public housing in the US create new opportunities and risks for low-income residents. Although cities are able to pursue innovative strategies for combatting troubled public housing, the danger is that the interests of the residents will be subordinated to those of the local power structure—especially where public housing poses an obstacle to revitalization. This article examines the efforts to redevelop the St. Thomas Housing Development in New Orleans in order to discover the impact on residents and to evaluate prevailing theories of urban power. The case involves empowered public housing residents and powerful economic interests. Although residents of St. Thomas gained access to the pro-growth coalition pursuing revitalization of the surrounding Lower Garden District, the outcome for residents is mixed. In order to understand the constraints faced by public housing residents we must recognize how political discourse can enhance the power of the business community in urban regimes.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Loyola University, New Orleans, LA, USA

Publication date: 01 April 1999

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