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.

FIGHT THE STIGMA!

FIGHT THE STIGMA!
Rosemary Reeves, Blogger, standing on Philadelphia Skyline

About



PA Senator John Heinz
Pennsylvania Senator John Heinz avoided stepping on a used needle during his June 28, 1989 visit to Liddonfield housing project in northeast Philadelphia.  “That’s no way for people to live,” he said as exuberant photojournalists snapped pictures of him.  The clicks and flashes from their cameras assured great media coverage for the senator’s goal of proposing supplemental legislation to the 1968 Fair Housing Act.   The intended legislation would hasten evictions of people living in federal housing projects who were arrested for selling drugs, by waiving their right to appeal.

Heinz was escorted on his tour of Liddonfield by raspy-voiced Councilwoman Joan Krajewski, who stood by her constituents when drugs ran rampant in the project beginning in the late 1980s, even going so far as to join neighborhood civic groups in a protest against lack of police, which was deliberately timed to cause a traffic jam on a major highway at rush hour.  The chain-smoking councilwoman was reported to have bummed cigarettes off of former State Representative John Perzel as the two marched with protesters in the freezing cold.

A major player in the politics of Liddonfield, Krajewski succeeded in repeatedly bringing attention to what was deemed a “low priority” part of Philadelphia.  In an area largely ignored by City Hall, northeast Philly residents used creative alternative means to fight the rise in crime after a Jamaican drug gang began recruiting drug dealers out of Liddonfield during a severe police shortage, such as forming a powerful coalition of neighborhoods to put pressure on public officials.

But Liddonfield was not always notorious and crime-ridden.  In fact, up until 1987 the Northeast Federation of Civic Groups praised Liddonfield for being well-maintained and having very little serious crime.  It was one of the best public housing developments in Philadelphia.  

First opened in 1955, the original Liddonfield tenants were working families and WWII veterans.  However, during the more than 50 years of its existence, changes in public policy such as forced evictions of working families and priority given to the homeless not only caused the decline of Liddonfield but the neighborhoods surrounding it. 

After Liddonfield became synonymous with crime, its first thirty years as a well-maintained and safe public housing development were all but forgotten by the mainstream population of the area.  By resurrecting Liddonfield’s past through articles, true stories and first-hand narratives about one Liddonfield family’s attempts at upward mobility, PublicHousingStories.com  illustrates life in the project during its early years and reveals the chain of events that led to its decline.  The history of Liddonfield is crucial to understanding our government’s role in shaping the quality of life in America’s neighborhoods.     


Philly Politicians Who Shaped Liddonfield

 
The Story Behind PublicHousingStories.com



Rosemary Reeves
“With my body weak from months of chemo and wearing a wig to hide my hair loss, I turned the web cam on myself and made the first video for PublicHousingStories.com."

Only a short time after having won her battle with a serious illness, Rosemary Reeves became a former cancer patient turned public housing blogger.  As a child, Reeves lived in Liddonfield Housing project, located in the midst of an otherwise middle-class neighborhood.  When her family crossed the social class divide by moving out of the projects, they faced the long-held resentment of homeowners who wanted to keep public housing residents from moving in.  It was that childhood experience with public housing stigma that inspired PublicHousingStories.com, which began as a simple online tribute to the generations of tenants who lived in Liddonfield and a means to tell their side of the story.


Since then, the website has evolved to include true stories about the struggles nearby homeowners faced after the project began to decline in the late 1980’s.  The tenacious residents of northeast Philadelphia put pressure on public officials to take measures against crime in Liddonfield, which had spread to surrounding neighborhoods.  Visitors to this website can learn the creative ways northeast Philly civic groups gained media attention to their cause as well as what political strategies they used to save their neighborhood and the results of those strategies.

Whether you’ve come to this website to gain helpful information or just want to relax and read a good story, you will be inspired by the amazing people of northeast Philadelphia and the Liddonfield legacy that had an impact on their lives for more than 50 years.
For the complete story on how PublicHousingStories.com began, see the article Public Housing Auld Lang Syne. 

AUDIENCE 

Viewers of PublicHousingStories.com include current and former public housing residents, housing authority employees, local politicians, journalists, social scientists, realtors interested in partnering with HUD to build and run mixed-income neighborhoods as well as residents of northeast Philadelphia where Liddonfield Housing Project was located.

MEDIA COVERAGE OF THIS BLOG

Aaron Proctor, writer for the Examiner.com, Libertarian and guest commentator on Fox News, interviewed the founder of PublicHousingStories.com in regard to local public housing politics in his December 29, 2010 article, Inside the PHA:  A Talk With Rosemary Reeves.

TRUE PUBLIC HOUSING STORIES

Visitors to the site can read about the real experiences of a former public housing resident turned middle-class in articles such as The Psychiatry of Public Housing and Will HOPE VI Children Have Confused Identity?
 
Autobiographical pieces about Liddonfield, including A Fight in the Projects and Housing Project Family illustrate what it’s like to be a child within one impoverished family living in the projects.

1 comment:

  1. Great site, Rosemary! I plan to read more soon.

    Best wishes,
    Catherine DePino

    ReplyDelete

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