Joined by a panel that included, now vice president for Neighborhood Development at the Hill House, and summit organizer and Sociology and Global Studies Professor Jackie Smith, Fullilove described how what she learned in the Hill became the basis for her book “Root Shock: How Tearing Up City Neighborhoods Hurts America and What We Can Do About It.”
Urban Renewal is not just one thing. In the Hill it wasn’t just bulldozing a neighborhood for the Civic Arena and displacing thousands of residents, it continued.
“Some of those people—the ones who stayed—were displaced into public housing. And then in the
1990s what happened? Hope VI comes along and tears down the public housing,” said Fullilove.
“So you have this serial, forced displacement. Each time destroying more of the social networks that had been in place to where what was once a community with open doors where everyone knew one another and watched each others kids, is now a completely different environment, with drugs as an alternate employer, and where we don’t live together anymore.”
And it’s not done, because developers are now building high-end rental and condominium housing for Google or Apple employees—and no affordable units—gentrification is displacing those same communities again.
“The people in tech with high-paying jobs are being invited in, while the rest got shitty jobs in retail and were asked to leave,” she said.
But Fullilove’s presentation was only a small part of the wide ranging summit that brought together not just academics, but artists, activists and urban planning experts from as far away as Santiago, Chile, all addressing issues ranging from displacement and gender to renters’ unions and fighting eviction and foreclosure.
Smith said she was pleased with the summit, especially the degree to which seasoned activists, residents, academics and professionals were able to make connections on vast scales.
“I think we created a model that showed people what could happen, and enabled people to draw on networks in other cities,” she said.
“I heard a lot of good feedback, and I’m pleased the students got familiar with the global housing crisis, and gained insights into the city that they hadn’t had. We generated a lot of energy to take these ideas and see how we move forward.”
Smith said her steering committee will meet after Thanksgiving to determine their next steps. They have already scheduled a press conference for 10 a.m., Nov. 9 at the City-County Building for with International Human Rights Day activities.
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