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

May 14, 2012

Mayfair Civic Association Prepared to Fight for the Neighborhood

 Featured comment of the week of May 7, 2012
Viewer comment on "Tire Slasher Case a Lesson on Section 8 Suspects"

Comment:  What absolute apologist nonsense. Here are the facts: in 2010, blacks were 10.8% of the population of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (U.S. Census Bureau.) Statewide during that same year, blacks were responsible for 67.9 percent of homicides, 41.6 percent of rapes, 66.3 percent of robberies, 47.8 percent of aggravated assaults and 27.5 percent of burglaries (2010 Pennsylvania Annual Uniform Crime Report.) And guess what? If you look at crime data in any state in the country, you'll see the exact same pattern. In fact, you'll see it in any country in the world where blacks are present. Why? Because blacks are far more prone to criminality than whites, period. Everybody knows this is true. Everybody.

But according to you, whites create this criminal behavior in blacks by failing to bake cakes for them when they move out of the projects they destroyed and into our neighborhoods using Section 8 vouchers for which we, the taxpayers, have been forced to pay. You want to talk about resentment? I think you're looking in the wrong place.

Response from Blogger:  What those statistics prove is that concentrated poverty has been disastrous for African Americans and others of low-income.  The Chicago Housing Authority already knew this.  That is why the department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has been demolishing housing projects across the United States and offering former tenants housing vouchers under the HOPE VI Program.  Without checks and balances, though, the result is that they are simply moving concentrated poverty from one place to another.  I would like to reiterate that there should be a strict limit on the number of Section 8 residents on any given block in any given area.  HUD has a duty to ensure that their policies do not result in the decimation of clean, safe neighborhoods. 

That said, Philadelphia is not Chicago and northeast Philadelphians are not your average city dwellers.  They are hotdogs and apple pie, flag waving kind of folks who still believe in the American dream and they will fight to preserve it.  Though they live in the fourth largest city in the U. S., they are suburbanites at heart.  If you grew up in the neighborhood of  Bustleton, Torresdale, Upper Holmesburg or Mayfair, chances are that decades after you’ve moved away they still remember your name.  Friendships are often life-long and families have lived there for generations.  Many are active in their communities.  They are proud of the neighborhoods they live in, so much so they will pick up litter from empty lots to keep them clean and not ask for accolades.  They mow their lawns regularly.  They even mow other people’s lawns, if those people are elderly or disabled or just need a helping hand.

If they encounter graffiti or blight, they will not hesitate to call their city councilman.  Better yet, they will show up at his local office and ask him face-to-face, “What are you going to do about it?”  If there is something they think threatens the neighborhoods they hold dear, they have been known to mobilize against it with protests and political pressure.  They will make good use of their indignation by rallying around a cause, knowing there is strength in solidarity.  Earlier this year, they protested against the building of a proposed methadone clinic in Holmesburg and won.

While they are staunchly loyal to their neighbors, friends and family, especially in the far northeast they are prone to scrutinize anyone who moves onto their block.  Whether the newcomer knows it or not, they are obliged to pass muster or assume outsider status.  Their expectations are as firm as their family ties.  To someone who doesn’t quite fit the mold, northeast Philadelphians can be as exasperating as they are admirable.

In her May 2, 2012 letter to the editor of the Northeast Times Star Mia Hylan, Assistant Secretary of the Mayfair Civic Association wrote that “Mayfair is a force to be reckoned with” and “we are prepared to fight for this neighborhood.”   The letter begins by addressing people that have left the neighborhood because, as they put it, “It was going down” and urges long-time residents to stay.  I have seen this letter being circulated on Facebook, which suggests they are beginning to rally around a cause, which seems to be to fight crime and blight in their neighborhood through solidarity.

It will be interesting to see how things develop now that housing projects such as Liddonfield in the northeast have been demolished and former tenants move onto the block with housing authority vouchers.   Homeowners who leave will only find themselves moving again and again in order to keep Section 8 neighbors at arm’s length until they finally price themselves out of a home altogether.  If northeast Philadelphians are to fare better than Chicago, they would be wise to follow Mia Hylan’s advice.  The best way to prevent your neighborhood from “going down” is to stay there.  Just be sure that when you’re fighting the good fight that you don’t become overzealous and misjudge people.



Mia Hylan's letter to the editor of the Northeast Times Star

1 comment:

  1. I don't care how or why you move into the same neighborhood as me, as long as you keep your property clean and respect your neighbors.


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