Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Slum clearance cui bono in Colombia

A friend noticed this striking article about slum clearance -- as in wholesale demolition -- in the San José neighborhood of Manizales, Colombia. Slum clearance that just happens to be on a flat tract of land suitable for a shopping center, hm. As in the notorious Kelo case in New London, Connecticut, it sounds like a public taking of private property for other private use.

In Colombia, though, whole neighborhoods can still be torn down all at once to serve urban planning goals. We don't do that in the U.S. any more. Not on that scale. It's sad stuff to read.

The lone holdouts still living in the neighborhood are Alicia and her family. Alicia does not want to accept the government's proposal that she move, for compensation, to "decent" high-rise housing being prepared for herself and her neighbors. Local authorities claim it would improve her family's circumstances although their space would be smaller and more restricted. The writer paraphrases Alicia's indignant questions, including these: "Do rich people really think that living decently means living like them? With no patio, no yard, no door onto the street?"

I've heard that before, on a far smaller scale, from and about people who lived in improvised housing along quiet industrial streets where their dogs had room to run and they themselves had room to do space-demanding kinds of tasks like repairing motors and sorting recycling hauls. People who were used to living with if not in the outdoors, who were moved into crowded nonprofit-run downtown SROs in the name of social improvement. Same problem, vastly different scale.

No comments:

Post a Comment