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

Apr 16, 2012


Featured comment of the week of April 16, 2012
Viewer comment on “Race in Liddonfield Housing Project”

Comment:  I know you won't post links to other pages on your blog, so I won't provide one. However, you might be interested in a new study conducted by the Chicago Housing Authority which found that neighborhoods with CHA Section 8 relocations experienced significantly higher rates of crime than the rest of the city during the study period of 2000 to 2008. You can read about it in the Chicago Sun-Times. Remember, this is CHA's own study, and they would much rather have seen different results.

People hate Section 8 vouchers because the people holding them bring violent crime into their neighborhoods. Why is that so difficult for you to understand?

Response from Blogger:  Thank you for your comment. I assume you are referring to the Chicago Sun-Times article by reporter Frank Main entitled, Neighborhoods of CHA Relocations Experienced Higher Crime Rates, which states that violent crime was up 21 percent in places where there were “high concentrations” of former Chicago public housing residents who received vouchers.

The key phrase here is “high concentrations,” meaning people with vouchers gravitating to the same neighborhood.  This is where Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is making a mistake in assuming that public housing folks, after living for years segregated from the larger society, will suddenly conform to middle-class life without missing a beat.  

Back in the 1940s and 50s when most housing projects were built, they were deliberately designed in such a way as to produce insular communities in and of themselves which would mirror middle-class communities.  Instead, with the passing of decades, this disastrous design produced subcultures of alienated, low-income people, some of whom are unable or unwilling to conform to middle-class society.  In 1992, HUD came up with the HOPE VI program, which called for the demolition of housing projects in favor of vouchers and mixed-income developments.  The glaring flaw is that HUD assumes previously marginalized people will smoothly transition to their new environment of their own accord.  As a former public housing resident, I can attest to the fact that this can be a long and difficult process even for the many law abiding former tenants who are doing the best they can to become financially independent.  For more insight into the matter, see the stories about my family’s move from Liddonfield housing project to a middle-class neighborhood, the difficulties we faced and how I awkwardly stumbled through this difficult transition as a child.  Links to these stories are below this post.

“Until this study, really, there hasn’t been any data that addresses this question,” CHA spokeswoman Kellie O’Connell-Miller said in her interview for the Chicago Sun article.  Since this voucher program has never been done before, it’s too early to statistically confirm that same grim outcome will result in other cities and other neighborhoods, like Upper Holmesburg in northeast Philadelphia where the recently demolished Liddonfield housing project once stood.  But what I have been  hearing off the street from Holmesburg homeowners who were kind enough to confide in me is that they are already having problems with some of the people who have moved onto their block with vouchers.  There are two sides to every story, but if they are giving an accurate representation of troublemakers moving in, this is not fair to the community and it is stigmatizing those in the voucher program who don’t deserve a bad rap.

Now, what would you do if you were a teacher and there were a couple of troublemakers in your class?  Would you put them in a different classroom?  No!  If you had any sense, you’d separate them.  Without each other’s negative influence, there’s a lot more pressure to conform.  

Their needs to be a limit on how many voucher recipients can live in a given area.  By spreading them out, any troublemakers would be isolated from the bad influences that encourage them and in their isolation, feel more pressure to conform.  That’s one approach of many possible approaches to this problem.  This is a hot topic issue nowadays, as communities across the United States worry what changes the voucher program will bring to their neighborhoods and I will be writing more about it in future posts.




  1. I live in Suburban Chicago. Our neighbood is also experiencing higher crime. Many break ins. One in Burr Ridge was quite high profile - as a 14 year old girl was killed walking in on an African American burglar. Don't know if he was Section 8. But we are seing people with serious crime records commit crimes in our commuities. One group of burlgars were caught, tried but not given a jail sentence. One of them was caught again the next week burglarizing again. In the last month, three teenagers were robbed of I-Pods at gunpoint. This simply has never happened in the western suburbs before. I don't know what the concentrations of Section 8 voucher residents are, but the fact is that people will go to other neighborhoods to escape this. There are whole blocks in a neighboring community that I won't go near, because the change in the racial make up is obvious. Perhaps they are just renting - and not section 8, but they probably came to the neighborhood to be near Section 8 friends and family members.

    One of our neighbors has said he has been robbed three times. The section 8 residents can watch his comming and goings from the window of their building. This is not good.

    1. This has made featured comment of the week. Look for a detailed response on Monday, May 7, 2012. Thanks for commenting and please do so again!

  2. Section 8 knows no race. I live in Western MA and have to suffer with white trash. Literally these people do not work they stay home all day and bring the building down. It sucks because I work. These are not elderly they are young people. Oh and usually they are up all night making noise, slamming doors with their friends over.

  3. Every one that has a voucher it doesn't mean that don't work or pay taxes like everyone else dose or want better living in opportunity ares beacuse of who you are or the size of your family or the color of your race their is crime all over we have to understand that if we dont have better schools in our areas and better job opportunities we want have to worry about who has a chac (voucher) now you may be able to afford a nice home but you never know when you may need that same program to help you or some one in your family that you just can't help "sence it applies to a group people that do work and take care of their families and I think more fortunate people need to help out more at the end of the day its a lot of families that need food stampes now has never needed food stampes before until you have been through a struggle don't talk about if not your struggle its not section (8) th at makes crime its people stupidity that brings the crimes to your community's


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