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 7, 2012

Tire Slasher Case a Lesson on Section 8 Suspects

Featured comment of the week of May 7, 2012
Viewer comment on “People Hate Section 8 Vouchers Because...”

Comment:  I live in Suburban Chicago. Our neighborhood is also experiencing higher crime. Many break in’s. 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 seeing people with serious crime records commit crimes in our communities. One group of burglars 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 coming and goings from the window of their building. This is not good.

Response by Blogger-I have not been to Chicago, but I do know that it has been experiencing demographic change within its neighborhoods due to the demolition of Cabrini Green housing project and others like it.  Along with this is the issue of race.  You say there are whole blocks you won’t go near because of the racial make-up.

In northeast Philadelphia, where Liddonfield project was located before it was bulldozed under the HOPE VI Program, homeowners are worried about former residents of the public housing development moving onto their block with vouchers because of horror stories like these coming out of Chicago.

When my family lived in Liddonfield there was some crime, but not much.  It was a time when people who resided near the housing project were resentful simply because it lowered their property values or because they didn’t like low-income folks being housed on their tax dollar.  Such reasons to dislike the project seemed miniscule in importance after drugs and crime made the public housing development a dangerous place.  It started spilling out into the surrounding neighborhood.  Homeowners were glad that Liddonfield was demolished.   That sense of security was short-lived upon learning that former residents of the project were given Section 8 vouchers, which means they could move onto any block instead of living in a housing project.  But while some in Upper Holmesburg worry about Section 8 recipients being good neighbors, they forget to be good neighbors themselves.

Pretend you are a Section 8 voucher recipient.  How would you feel if you moved to a neighborhood where people never say “hi”, but instead look suspicious and resentful every time they come near you?  You might start to cop an attitude.  Why should you care if your loud music keeps them up at night?  They don’t like you anyway. 

Others on the block seem judgmental.  From the day you moved in, you got a bad “vibe” in the neighborhood.  You went to the store and heard people talking about how Section 8 is going to ruin their neighborhood.  They don’t know you’re right behind them in the dairy aisle. 

The last thing you want to do is be like those judgmental people.  You’re supposed to look up to your middle-class neighbors as role models, but all they’ve done is brought you negativity and made you feel bad about yourself.  You wouldn’t mind inviting your friends over, staying up all night drinking beer and driving them crazy.  You say to yourself, “That’ll teach them to judge me and my family!”

An attitude adjustment on both sides would go a long way.  You don’t have to be friends, but you don’t have to be enemies, either.  If a person you think is section 8 moves onto your block, would it kill you to bake a cake and bring it over?  Would it be too much to introduce them to the rest of the neighbors?  Is there someone on the block who will volunteer to do this?  Be genuine.  A fake welcome is worse than no welcome at all.  You may find they’re not so bad.  You may find you have something in common.

As for your friend who has been robbed three times, he could leave his television on to make it seem like someone is there when he is away.  There are cheap alarm systems but if he can't afford one he should put a sign in his window anyway saying there are alarms.  He can ask someone to keep an eye on his place and he would return the favor.  He could also place a video camera near his door and camouflauge it.   He could ask the police or landlord to place cameras.  I hope he has insurance to cover the loss.  He might want to get a dog for protection as well.

I'm not convinced that the robber is one of the "Section 8" people in the building across the way.  If the robberies started right after they moved in, then keep them high on the list of suspects.  But they should not be the ONLY suspects.  We had a case here in northeast Philadelphia where someone was slashing tires repeatedly in the same area.  It was happening for months.  Some people had their tires slashed several times.  It may seem like a small thing, but this was ruining their lives as they shelled out hundreds of dollars to pay for the damage to their cars.  An entire neighborhood was being victimized over and over.  It made the headlines.  Finally, a suspect named David Toledo was arrested in the case.  Toledo was a member of neighborhood watch.  (Toledo has been charged but the case has not yet gone to trial).
Has your neighbor had a stranger over to his house lately (a salesman, for instance)?  Is a family member using drugs?  People who are addicted to drugs will often rob their own relatives.  Since it has occurred three times successfully, it may well be an inside job.  Does he have teenage children who invite friends over?  Could it be one of their friends from school, etc.

A word about race.  Throughout history, poverty has given rise to violent crime and race had little to do with it.  In the 1800’s, a predominantly Irish neighborhood known as Five Points was notorious for brutal crimes.  It was the setting in a movie entitled “Gangs of New York” starring Leonardo DiCaprio.  In the 1930’s there were drive-by shootings and super criminals like Dillinger and Capone.  Some of the mafia bosses began life in severe poverty and saw crime as a way out.  




  1. 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.

    1. I want to keep this dialogue going on Section 8 vouchers. Stay tuned for my response next week and thanks for commenting!


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