URBANAND REGIONAL PLANNING
URBANAND REGIONAL PLANNING
Federalurban development and reconstruction Title I program was launchedunder the housing Act of 1949. It was aimed at revitalizing theAmerican cities with steel and glass skyscraper plazas by cleaningthe cities off the ugly outdated attire of city slums. This programwas pegged on hopes of creating concrete projects that would boostproperty values, increase tax revenues and improve the general socialwelfare eradicating slums and creating better living conditions.According to city planners, this program was meant to improveaffordability of decent houses within the cities by the low andmiddle income people. The proposed reconstruction program neversucceeded because the original goals of the plan were ill definedconflicts marred its execution. There were allegations that fundswere misused to the benefit of commercial investors at the expense ofpoor mass Title I was welfare for the rich.
Thefirst project in Philadelphia provided racially integrated group withlow income houses, the city spent rental money for redevelopment.There were areas where the program had significant impact like inBaltimore, Detroit and new Haven. Later, this scheme failed due tocriticism that more money was used in such projects than revenuescollected and that the projects benefitted wealthy people more thanthe poor, consequently the project lost favor (Montgomery, 1966).
TheCommunity Development Block Grant (CDBG) program was initiated as anaftermath of the failed federal urban renewal program in 1949 (Title1 project). This scheme sought to empower the local people withfederal funds that would be used in the reconstruction of the urbanslum buildings, neighborhood centers, nonprofit development schemes,enforcing building codes, enhancing public services and conservingenergy. This program was effective in providing employment to thepoor as well as improving the urban image (Montgomery, 1966).
However,like its predecessor Title 1 project, this program did not serve thepoor rather funds were used to set up glitzy projects for tappingrevenues. In broader sense, cities exploited the CDBG program fundsmeant to set up better housing for the poor. Closer assessment ofthese two urban renewal programs reveals that they were unsuccessfulin addressing the issues they had been meant for. Although the urbanspace of many cities changed with modern concrete blocks, the poorbenefited minimally from such projects. Far from this, the twoprograms became heavy financial burden to the federal budget whichdampened the earlier enthusiasm the projects had (City of EastLancing, 2012).
Onemajor difference between the federal urban renewal program (Title 1Project) was that, it was costly, privatized and destructive comparedto Community Development Block Grants. The CDBG program was moreflexible in the use of funds than the Title 1 project. Unlike theprevious program, disbursement of CDBG grants was more discrete andwas meant to benefit low and middle income groups.However, the twoprograms failed to radically change the American cities the programsgenerated more controversies about misuse of funds and more paperwork that concrete projects (Friedman, 1968).
Inmy perspective, the CDBG was more effective in refurbishing theAmerican cities because of its flexibility in funds use, advocatingfor piece meal reconstruction rather than wholesome destruction oflow end houses and its notion of public participation inreconstructing the city. However, Federal mismanagement of thesefunds rendered the projects ineffective with their incentive zoning,tax abatements and turning the projects ass economic ventures ofnegotiating deals with private developers than upgrading the citiesfor the benefits of all especially the poor (Video CDBGGrants).
Cityof East Lancing, 2012 ‘CDBGGrants Programfunding’East Lancing Michigan, Internet Resource,http://www.cityofeastlansing.com/Home/Departments/PlanningBuildingDevelopment/CommunityDevelopment/
Friedman,Lawrence M. 1968. ‘Governmentand Slum Housing: A Century of
Frustration’.Chicago: Rand McNally.
Montgomery,Roger. 1966. Improving the Design Process in Urban Renewal. In Urban
Renewal:The Record and the Controversy,ed. James Q.Wilson, 454–87. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
VideoCDBGGrants in Douglas County http://vimeo.com/10463015
Weicher,John C. 1972. UrbanRenewal: National Program for Local Problems.Washington, DC: American Enterprise Institute for Public PolicyResearch