Do Slums Cause Crime?
Do slums cause crime? Or maybe crime causes slums… Than you have to consider that perhaps it’s something else altogether and that’s when it gets complicated and people stop listening. Luckily I have an answer.
The government. Not just the government, but I argue that government policies are more effective at creating both slums and crime than anything else out there.
Consider that in close knit, but run down neighborhoods there may be very little crime, as in the north end of Boston during the 60’s. The north end, to continue with the example, was populated by Italian immigrants and suffered from low crime rates, low death rates, low amounts of income being devoted to rent and a multitude of other wonderful things. This area, obviously more than what it appeared on the outside, was a wonderful place.
Enter the urban planner.
Parts of the north end were torn down, to be “revitalized”. The areas the residents moved to became crime ridden, the areas that were revitalized also became crime ridden. Quality of life declined sharply. The new and remodeled buildings became slummier than they previously were. What the fuck is going on?
It should be pretty easy to see. People forget that communities are more than a collection of buildings and people. The people that live there have norms and unwritten policies and the closeness of the community is unreceptive to crime and far more likely to take matters into their own hands. People help one another, people care for their neighbor. When these communities are broken up as a matter of public policy, to ‘help’ the less fortunate, these connections are severed.
As you might be able to guess, its likely the breaking up of these communities that leads to higher crime, not the surroundings. Higher crime leads to more risk, for individuals and businesses. That leads to reduced prosperity. So tell me, what is solved by government housing projects and urban “revitalization”? It seems to me that this logical and rational chain of events happens over and over, with no one realizing that the assumptions being made are incorrect, have never been correct.
As with “smart-growth” policies and “open space” policies, they create more problems than they solve and cause more hurt to the people they were intended to help.