Seminar 4 with Professor Berger

Author: jenniferchang (page 1 of 1)

Capitol Hall Residence

The visit to Capitol Hall reminded me a lot of my time as a community organizer, where I interviewed many homeless people and worked closely with many homeless children. An abandoned hotel in my neighborhood had been transformed into a homeless residence for families and victims of domestic abuse, much to the dismay of many of the residence and shop-owners. There were worries of their land values going down, and fear of an increase in crime and violence in the neighborhood. What they, and a lot of people do not realize, is that homelessness is not uniform; not everyone is homeless because they are drug addicts or have mental illnesses, and not every homeless person is jobless. Keeping with this mindset will only hurt and hinder the homeless people during a time where love and support is needed most.

Capitol Hall is doing a great job for such a difficult issue. Affordable housing in New York City is a huge issue, and Capitol Hall goes above and beyond just basic housing. They provide many other resources, such as medical care and financial help for their residents. It is clear to me that to solve the homeless crisis in New York City, more places like Capitol Hall will need to be built. Although the road will be difficult, this would be attacking the roots of the issue, rather than just the symptoms, like homeless shelters do. Hopefully, eventually, everyone in New York City will have a safe home to live in.


Broken Windows, or Broken Trust?

The Broken Windows Theory seemed promising when it was first proposed. Focus some attention on the smaller crimes, such as graffiti, loitering, panhandling, and the chances of larger crimes being committed would drop, thus preventing the neighborhood from becoming “bad.” It stood the test of time over years of implementation and had real, albeit negative, effects. People living in the neighborhoods felt safer. However, this targeting of smaller crimes soon became targeting the poor and the minorities.

It is no question that the broken windows policing at the moment is discriminatory and should definitely be reformed. The implementation of quotas, and the discriminatory targeting is proof of a broken system of broken trust between the authority and the public. African American men should not die for selling loosies, or for just “looking suspicious.” Targeting the smaller crimes is now targeting the smaller symptoms of an issue, rather than the actual root of the problem.

Until more resources are available for those living in poverty, who are forced to steal, to panhandle, and to sleep on public benches, until this system of setting quotas is resolved and mutual respect is built, broken windows policing will remain broken trust policing.

-Jennifer Chang

The Cross-Bronx Expressway: was it worth it?

The Cross Bronx Expressway is a major highway that connects New Jersey, Manhattan, Bronx, and Long Island, and the creation that Robert Moses is best known for. Despite the impact of expressways and highways, and Moses’ contribution to the bustling region that is NYC today, he absolutely could have approached the construction of the Cross Bronx Expressway in a different manner. He had a better possible route to build the expressway, yet he had chosen a route that evicted and relocated thousands of families (over 60,000 residents). Whether it was a political move or simply his creative decision to choose that route, nothing can justify the movement and the unfulfilled promises to the thousands of families, and the devastating effect to Bronx. The South Bronx area had lost many manufacturing jobs due to the mass relocation of the residents. Many poorer families had to move into high-rises, the ownership of which soon fell into corrupt hands.

It does not matter how much power Moses had or if he felt it was worth it, in the end, the devastation left in the wake of his decisions did not make the construction of the expressway worth it. More thought and consideration should have been put into it, and only then should it have been built.


Robert Moses’ Power

Robert Moses’ power stemmed from deceit and threats. In the beginning of the reading, a kerfuffle between Moses and the Yale swim team captain, Ed Richards, was described. Here, Moses wanted to raise money through deceit, by telling Og Reid that the money was going only to the swimming team and not to an association. Richards had protested this idea, to which Moses threatened to leave the team. Forty-five years later, when Moses realized he wouldn’t be sworn in as a Planning Commissioner under the new mayor, he marched into the mayor’s office and threatened to resign if he did not get his position as Planning Commissioner back. Here, a pattern was emerging. Since the mayor had given in, Moses acquired the power to spend money uncaringly and to step all over the public, evicting people carelessly to make room for his numerous projects. Although he had wanted to dedicate his life to public service, his intentions shifted to selfishness, corruption continued its grasp on his motivations, and he used blackmail and the media to get what he wanted.