Stories about life in Liddonfield housing project and its impact on the Northeast Philadelphia neighborhood of Upper Holmesburg. These true stories reveal how government policy affected the lives of real people, from the project residents to area homeowners during the 5 decades of Liddonfield’s existence. Stories and articles are written by a former resident of the project.


Rosemary Reeves, Blogger, standing on Philadelphia Skyline

Nov 22, 2010

The Strange Bedfellows of Public Housing

We low-income folks are leaving our public housing reservations!  Now, the rest of society can actually meet us in person, instead of gazing at us resentfully from their detached homes on the hill, woefully mumbling about their tax dollars.  Under the government’s HOPE VI Program, housing projects are being demolished and replaced with mixed-income neighborhoods.  But will mixed-income communities foster mixed-income romance?

Before you spit out that after dinner martini at the very thought, Mr. and Mrs. Middle-class, consider your favorite movies.  Mixed-income romance may seem like your worst nightmare, especially if it involves your son or daughter, but you sure love it at the box office.  Hollywood glamorizes it and you pay to see it.  In real life, it’s exciting and it does happen for real.  Here are some of the things that make affluent people pursue a romance with someone from the wrong side of the tracks.
When good looks outweigh low income.  Honestly, would you say no to Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise or Denzel Washington if his pockets were empty? What about someone as pretty and sweet as Kirsten Dunst in Spiderman?  Or a woman as stunning as Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady?
Romance as an expression of rebellion.  Young adults from affluent families who feel controlled and overprotected by parents who have mapped out their whole lives since birth will sometimes date a person from the wrong side of the tracks just to make their parents crazy.  They are overwhelmed by Mom and Dad’s expectations and resentful of their lack of freedom.  They want to make their own choices, especially if it’s the opposite of what their parents would choose.
Bad Boy or bad girl equals exciting.  People who are bored to tears by the narrowness of middle-class norms and values can find themselves drawn to someone who appears edgy, tough or even slightly dangerous.  These outwardly respectable people are secretly hot-blooded admirers of bad boys or bad girls.  Many famous and rich people have these types of mixed-income liaisons, including television preachers.  There’s even a word for it (although it’s a derogatory term when used by the non-poor).  It’s called slumming.
Florence Nightingale Syndrome– Financially solvent people with this characteristic want to “save” their less affluent love interest by taking care of them.  They take pleasure in being needed.  They are rare in their capacity to be empathetic and are genuinely kind-hearted.  However, in their quest to “save” their low-income love interest, they may attempt to change them, which can backfire.
Opposites Attract – Middle-class people who crave variety will make a bee-line for someone different if they are attractive on the outside.  Remember, it’s not just income involved.  People from different backgrounds have different experiences, perceptions and ideas.  Working-class and low-income people are generally less concerned about appearances and that can make them more fun to be with.
Curiosity- This usually happens when all of the above motivating factors come together and involves two people who don't care what others think.
Fun and moving music videos featuring mixed-income romance:

Opposites Attract
  – Uptown girl (Billie Joel)
Good looks outweigh low income
 -I’m on Fire (Bruce Springstein)
Romance as Rebellion-
I Had the Time of My Life (from the film Dirty Dancing)
Florence Nightingale Syndrome
 -Rag Doll (Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons)
Bad boy/bad girl equals exciting
 -You’re the One That I Want (John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John from the film, Grease)

-My Heart Will Go On (Celine Dion, from the film Titanic)

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