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Is Urban Policy Making Way for the Wealthy? How a Human Rights Approach Challenges the Purging of Poor Communities from U.S. Cities

Author(s)
Brittany Scott
Publication Date
April, 2014
Description

This article explores the increased prevalence of zero-tolerance policing strategies within low-income neighborhoods in major U.S. cities undergoing post-industrial redevelopment.  To contextualize this trend, the article assesses past public policies that isolated low-income communities, particularly communities of color, within cities for decades, while economic resources were concentrated outside of cities.  The article also introduces a human rights approach to housing and land development.  The article then parses two case studies, the Safer Cities Initiative in Los Angeles’ Skid Row community and the “mixed income” redevelopment of Chicago’s public housing, featuring NESRI allies, the Los Angeles Community Action Network and the Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign.  This examination scrutinizes the roles played by government, business, and media in shaping the dominant public discourse, which supports polices and practices that exacerbate existing inequities and violate myriad human rights of community members experiencing poverty and homelessness.  The article argues that criminalization expedites the displacement of “undesirable” occupants from valuable urban space through state action.  The article also determines that displacement through criminalization often renders the inequitable outcomes of redevelopment virtually invisible.  Finally, the article explores what directly impacted communities are doing, and can do, locally to advance new models and alternative policy solutions rooted in the principles of human rights.

Brittany Scott, Is Urban Policy Making Way for the Wealthy? How a Human Rights Approach Challenges the Purging of Poor Communities from U.S. Cities, 45 Columbia Human Rights Law Review 863-895 (2014). 

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