Public Housing

Everyone knows that Memphis used to be filled with several public housing units that many would refer to as “the projects.” They came with the stigma of being cheap, low income, having very limited facilities, and infested with mold and bugs. Then emerged the HOPE VI federal grant, which was designed to tear down standing public housing, and replace it with nicer facilities. It aimed to improve the community by attempting to de-concentrate poverty in the community. However, racial patterns occurred, and on average nearly 700 African Americans were displaced from their homes. For example, while Cleaborn Homes at Heritage Landing here in Memphis may look nice from the outside, it is still 99% African American, and 80% of its residents use housing vouchers they can barely afford, and are easily subjected to eviction. Since being demolished and rebuilt in 2011, Cleaborn Homes have since run completely out of money and have laid off over 75% of its staff.

Ultimately, rebuilding with HOPE VI leads to severe restrictions placed on the community. While this could be a positive thing, meaning residents are keeping up with the care of their homes there has been no one-for-one replacement housing. This means that over 10,000 units a year have been lost, in the U.S. displacing even more people. Urban Renewal displaced existing residents and replaced the former site with something more aesthetically pleasing. While the new homes look pretty on the outside, very few problems have actually been solved. While the federal government supplies the grant, if the local government does not change the way it is being implemented, then more HOPE VI projects are looking to fail.