For a long time, many American cities housed their poorest residents in giant public housing towers that had little going for them except for the fact they were affordable. Crime was rampant and indiscriminate, drugs were everywhere, and children who grew up in housing projects often had little access to educational opportunities that would allow them to live a better life than their parents did. Perhaps the most illustrative story of the horror of the housing projects was that of Dantrell Davis, the seven-year-old boy shot to death on his way to school one morning in the Cabrini Green project in Chicago.
The riverfront has long been Anthony Cargile’s home. What’s new is the roof over his head. In March, Cargile became one of the first residents to move into a brand new building in a budding development along the American River. Before then, he slept on the riverbank, the shadow of the Cannery Place Apartments growing in his proverbial backyard.
Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to announce on Tuesday an aggressive plan to shore up New York City's deteriorating public housing, calling for significant new financial help from the city and for squeezing more revenue out of the housing projects and their residents.
Over the past few months, I have become increasingly aware of the housing shortage affecting many in our community. My awareness jumped to a whole new level when I found out about a young family — a husband, wife, and their 3-year-old child — that lives in their car because they cannot find a place to live. Even more disturbing to me was the fact that the wife is working and the husband just got a job. The stable housing they need and can afford is just not available.