Public Housing Myths

Perception, Reality, and Social Policy

by Nicholas Dagen BloomFritz UmbachLawrence J. Vale

Popular opinion holds that public housing is a failure; so what more needs to be said about seventy-five years of dashed hopes and destructive policies? Over the past decade, however, historians and social scientists have quietly exploded the common wisdom about public housing. Public Housing Myths pulls together these fresh perspectives and unexpected findings into a single volume to provide an updated, panoramic view of public housing.

With eleven chapters by prominent scholars, the collection not only covers a groundbreaking range of public housing issues transnationally but also does so in a revisionist and provocative manner. With students in mind, Public Housing Myths is organized thematically around popular preconceptions and myths about the policies surrounding big city public housing, the places themselves, and the people who call them home. The authors challenge narratives of inevitable decline, architectural determinism, and rampant criminality that have shaped earlier accounts and still dominate public perception.

Nicholas Dagen Bloom is Associate Professor of Social Sciences and chair of Interdisciplinary Studies at New York Institute of Technology. He is the author most recently of Public Housing That Worked: New York in the Twentieth Century.

Fritz Umbach is Associate Professor of History at John Jay College of Criminal Justice (CUNY). He is the author of The Last Neighborhood Cops: The Rise and Fall of Community Policing In New York’s Public Housing.

Lawrence J. Vale is Ford Professor of Urban Design and Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is the author most recently of Purging the Poorest: Public Housing and the Design Politics of Twice-Cleared Communities.


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  • publisher
    Cornell University Press
  • publisher place
    Ithaca, NY
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    Copyright © Cornell University. This book, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the publisher.
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    Cornell University