Risks of Public Housing Essay

In the United States public houses are primarily located in neighborhoods characterized by low or middle-income families. A major concern is that these families become subject to dangers and threats that ordinary families do not get exposed to. Overcrowding of houses, poor health, and poor nutrition habits are among the many contributing factors to low-income families living in vulnerable and unhealthy public houses. Public housing is a prime illustration of low-income families being threatened by dangerous situations that lead to very unhealthy living conditions.

One of the significant effects of public housing results in below average exam scores by less fortunate students (70). According to Schwartz, “the peer group in the typical school attended by public housing students is poorer and performs substantially worse on standardized exams than peers at other schools throughout the city” (70). One might suggest that these low exam scores are connected with the issue that community and home environments shape the foundation for educational success (70).

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Unfortunately, many of these public housing developments are located in areas that are characterized as being minority and high-poverty urban neighborhoods (70). On the contrary, exam scores of the kids that live outside of the public housing but still attend the same schools have not shown any decline in their exam scores (70). Moving students to schools in safer and less poverty stricken areas of town can cause an increase in the exam scores of low-income students (70).

Michael Sullivan and Theora Evans conducted a pilot study to better understand the level of self-competence in African American adolescents living in public housing developments in the mid-South (Sullivan 513). The goal of the study was to determine how the environment of these adolescents may affect their dimensions of self-competence. A comparative analysis was conducted between the sample means and those obtained from the population of which the SPPC instrument was used (513). The experiment compared the ratings of physical appearance and scholastic competence of males versus females.

Physical appearance and scholastic competence were associated with global self-worth, and family turmoil was associated with fewer close friendships (513). The study’s measurements included “Harter’s Self-Perception Profile for Children scale (SPCC) and Hudson’s Family Relationship Problems domain contained in his Multidimensional Adolescent Assessment Scale (513). The study concluded that males scored significantly higher on self-ratings of physical appearance than females (513).

Although there are clear indications that over the past few decades the problems with adolescent behavior have substantially decreased, the youth in low-income housing are still vulnerable (514). Adolescents between the ages of eleven and thirteen living in substandard public housing are targets for serious environmental factors for juvenile delinquency including: proliferation of weapons, deviant peer structures, and a host of social problems associated with low-social economic status (514).

They find themselves getting lured into trouble and gang-affiliation because they do not have protective benefits of school, community, and church connectedness or peer structure (514). Aggression is often used in desperate communities as a tool to obtain an individual’s wants and is characterized as a “might equals right” philosophy (514). The opportunity to formulate and employ alternative problem-solving skills often eludes some adolescents for a lifetime (514).

The result leads to these adolescents who engage in illegal and aggressive behaviors becoming role models for minors trying to learn problem solving and functioning skills (514). Research has shown that “residents living in public housing have the worst health of any population in the USA” (Erin, 1). Many of the public house residents are already ill before entering a home. In the U. K, the poverty levels are struck by direct health conditions caused by over crowding and cold houses resulting from physical housing conditions such as hazardous or dysfunctional building materials (Pevalin, 680).

Overcrowding of houses early on in life is a major contributor leading to a plethora of health problems. It can lead to bedwetting, poor educational attainment, poor mental adjustment, emotional problems, social tension, and irritability and impairment of social relations (680). Cold houses are a serious issue in the UK resulting from lack of efficient thermal heating in houses (680). The cost of heating homes is especially high in Europe (680). Elderly winter deaths caused by cardiovascular and respiratory illness are higher in the UK than any other country in Europe (680).

Insulating existing houses led to a significantly warmer, drier indoor environment as well as improved self-rated health (680). In the UK, interventions to improve domestic heating and overcrowding of houses are in place with the expectation that they will improve health and self-worth (680). The “housing” that we live in is subject to many elements including physical materials (e. g. , location, density building height, hazardous exposures), social threats (e. g. , threats to safety, noise, social networks), and psychological components (e. g. , interpersonal conflict) (Rauh, 276).

These elements can contribute to factors that have drastic effects on someone’s health and can potentially lead to increased risks of many harmful diseases. Inadequate city code enforcement can lead to systematic deterioration of neighborhoods, which affects the social and physical conditions of the well being in families (276). The social infrastructure that surrounds the places we live, consisting of social networks and political forces can bond communities together as well as tear them apart which leads to hazards for human health and well-being (276).

The physical conditions that affect us are not always extreme (276). Physical conditions such as chronic stresses of overcrowding, inadequate garbage removal, and poor ventilation conditions are part of the everyday lives of the residents of urban communities (276). The physical conditions, social threats, and psychological components discussed here can be found in low-income housing and can contribute to harmful living conditions (276). One of the negative consequences of urban renewal efforts has resulted in a concentration of the most disadvantaged segments of the urban population in fewer areas (277).

Entire communities have suffered displacement, fragmentation, and the loss of social cohesion resulting from the urban renewal efforts failure to take the social consequences of these physical changes into consideration (277). Inter-neighborhood variations in housing costs and crowding are among the most distinct factors contributing to segregation in urban areas (277). These variations have been associated with adverse health outcomes such as high rates of low birth weight (277).

As a consequence in public housing projects, for example, high rates of crime derive from high levels of family disruption as much as from poverty and employment (277). This shows that all these undesirable factors are concentrated in the area of low-income housing projects (277). Asthma has been found to be a particular risk factor in public housing. Poor housing conditions, poorer-quality management and upkeep are favorable conditions that can trigger asthma conditions in short-term public homes (279).

In New York City, for example, within communities with high asthma rates, asthmatics were five times more likely than non-asthmatics to live in public housing (279). Nationwide low income, inner-city residences have shown an association of asthma prevalence (279). A recent study of geographic variations in pediatric asthma rates showed considerable variation of severe asthma by factors of ethnicity, socioeconomic level, and geography (279). Data from the National Hispanic Health and Nutrition Examination Survey suggested variability in asthma rates among Hispanic groups: 5. 2% in Cuban American children, 2. % in Mexican American children, and 11. 2% in Puerto Rican children (280). Some authors suggest that asthma rates may be higher due to the fact of poor management of asthma in low-income areas (280). One of the most efficient ways we can go about solving this issue of public and overcrowding housing is by having the federal government support stimulus money in favor of reforming and refining homes that are in serious depletion. The U. S. Department and Urban Development has announced an $500 million stimulus money package given to housing authorities around the country to renovate units and make them more efficient (Knight, 1).

Approximately $2. 8 million will go to the Robert Pitts plaza in the Western Addition through a separate competitive grant for the public housing for the elderly and disabled (1). In northern Georgia about $1. 7 million in stimulus money will be granted to build 10 energy-efficient apartment homes for low-income housing (Putman, 1). The Northwest Georgia Housing Authority will receive money to create public housing that conserves energy and encourages more healthy life styles, according to the U. S. Department of Urban Development (1). Charleston plans to build an 8. million, 71-unit complex for the elderly at the government-subsidized Horizon Village stalled because of the financial crisis, and low-income housing groups want Congress to include housing construction funds in the economic stimulus bill (Wise, 1). According to David LaRoe, “we should be under construction by now, but we cannot sell the tax credits that have been awarded by the state. Without equity from the tax credits we can not move forward” (1). In the future, we are going to see a substantial increase in federal spending to convert public houses into green homes to conserve energy and make these homes far more efficient (1).

History tells us that times of economic social struggle create opportunities to implement non-traditional problem solving strategies (Coontz,1). The crisis in the housing market presents an opportunity to address home ownership for low and moderate-income households in hopes to promote cooperative housing to communities (1). An array of programs funded by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were generated to create home ownership opportunities for moderate-income households that have not previously owned a home (1).

Acceptable assistance programs are provided for cooperative housing members wishing to purchase single-family homes with minimal down payments and loan qualifying assistance (1). According to Coontz, “ the financial monitoring mechanisms used have proven ineffective as many of these buyers refinanced to predatory, sub-prime lending schemes. ” Recently issued ownership agreements are making sure that cooperative housing members are no longer vulnerable to a landlord’s decisions to raise rents, sell land, or delay repairs in their housing communities (1).

I am including ethnography in this paper based upon my service learning work. On November, 9 2010 I volunteered my time at the Habitat for Humanity restore center located off old highway 421. I worked under Rick Melo, the restore manager who was great to work with and get to know. He gave me a brief background of the organization, showed me around the store, and had me sign a waiver form before going to work. From ten thirty until twelve thirty pm I gathered up all of the leaves on the outside of the building and dumped them across the street into the woods.

Rick provided me with an empty garbage can to put the leaves in and brush to sweep them up. I first started gathering up the biggest pile of leaves in the front which took me about half an hour to do. There was a breeze outside so it forced me to rake them up rather quickly before they started blowing away. I was able to get a full can of leaves from all that were in the front and then took that share across the street and dumped them into the woods. The next phase was to gather the leaves from around the sides and from the boardwalk leading up to the building.

I got another full can of leaves and made one more trip across the street to dump them out. One thing I took away from this work was that it was an exciting, green, conservative endeavor because one is out in nature raking up the leaves and then putting them back into their habitat. From one thirty till two thirty pm I spent my time unloading items off the restore truck and setting them inside the garage. The items are then evaluated on whether they can be fixed, used, and sold to customers.

People donate all kinds of items to the restore center such as couches, cabinets, toilets, tables, tile, lamps, and chairs as well as anything else that one can imagine. I ran into a brand new box of silverware, in great condition that looked like it had just been taken out of the box. The goal was to get the items out of the garage and into the store so people can see the great items they offer and make a wise investment. I spent some time checking to see that a radio was functioning properly, the toilet was in good shape, and if the chairs had been damaged at all.

After evaluating the items I put them in their designated areas around the store so the customers can see the items. I learned some organizing skills by taking the items to their proper location because all of the items were grouped according to certain classifications. From two thirty until three thirty pm I cleaned furniture with Windex and Murphy’s Oil to remove the dust off of it and give the wood a nice shine. First, I would clean them with some windex to remove the dust and then apply the Murphy’s Oil that gives it that shine and a clean look.

Some of the cabinets were really dusty, and I had to give them a thorough cleaning to remove all the dust. I learned that vinegar is ultimately the best thing to clean cabinets and tables because it is so strong that it dissolves everything. After I got finished cleaning the furniture thoroughly, it looked aesthetically pleasing to bring out to the front of the store. We put the couches and chairs right in front when you walk in through the front door so those items are the first things that you see.

Rick was pleased with the time that I put into cleaning up the furniture and told me that I was a helping hand, which made me feel like I was making a positive difference. From three-forty till five pm, I spent the rest of the time moving couches, chairs, and tables to the front of the store. This was a strenuous job because some of the couches were pretty heavy, and I moved a television set that was an awkward shape. Rick Melo helped me move everything up to the front of the store, and we grouped all of the couches and chairs together.

After getting done with this job, I helped fold up boxes and put them into a recycle bin that would be put onto a truck. I folded up about fifty boxes of all different sizes and shapes, which would be donated to a worthy cause. We also put a sink and a cabinet back onto the truck that was being donated to a house that Habitat for Humanity had almost completed. All of the people that I worked with were really friendly and helpful, and by working diligently as a team we accomplished a lot of work.