In The Ghetto
" On a cold and gray Chicago morn another little child is born, in the Ghetto." That song opening of Elvis Presley's still sends chills not because of the words cold and gray, even though in Chicago there are periods when the weather is not all that nice, the connotation is one that resonates a very harsh reality facing new born children especially in surroundings that really are already harsh enough. Take for instance Cabrini Green the infamous housing project that stood as a focal point for the poor, the impoverished, and even families. Where thousands were living in conditions that were unconscionable and yet with so little options left they continued to call the projects home.
These high-rises became a symbol of urban blight. They were towering testaments to the failure of Chicago's and the rest of the countries public housing. Well intended at first as the solution to the nations poor where they could have shelter away from the realities on the streets. But, in reality they became nothing more than self imposed prisons. All to often locked behind closed doors to escape the horrendous conditions just outside their front door. To provide safe shelter to the poorest of the poor as our illustrious politicians so adamantly stated on many occasion. Yet, it is our politicians who continue to try to hide the poor by now integrating them in just another form of public housing. But, still without the means to actively pursue ways of ever leaving the poverty rolls. It is these housing projects have only ended up being a haven for drug dealers, gangs and other criminals that continue to target the poor. In the case of Cabrini Green when these projects became so infest with crime the city officials had no choice but to relocate people from these poorest neighborhoods and spread them out into various locations around the city. Did it stop the crime? Some say yes, but, many others say it only transferred crime to other areas. The poor still were poor, crime though not as rampant only continued.
Did the closure of Cabrini's high-rises mark the end of an ugly era in public housing? Or are subsidized housing no matter the style continue to encourage more poverty? The 70-acre development was initially hailed as a salvation for the city's poor that was emulated nationwide. But it quickly decayed into a virtual war zone, the kind of place where children were gunned down on their way to school and girls were sexually assaulted and left for dead in stairwells. In housing projects all across the country little has been done to stop the onslaught of the rapidly rising rate of the nations poor who end up in pubic housing. Changes have been made though from the plighted neighborhoods to now single family and town homes have begun to replace the towering housing projects of the late 1960's. But so much more needs to be done. This is so apparent with the nations rising rate of homelessness and single parent families.
What has transpired since the 1960's is only a continuation of a loosing battle in the war on poverty. Like the war on drugs, both have been dismal failures for decades. We can't put the blame solely on government policies of the past 45 years for why this nation has the largest number of citizens that live on or below the poverty line. The way our society has evolved plays a very important factor. Maybe, if the United States maintained the moral values that defined generations prior to the 1970's, maybe, if our educational systems maintained the curriculums of the 1950's-the 1960's with the addition of newer technologies, and maybe if our leaders of corporate America maintained a sense of fair play in the workplace all played a significant role in the rise of a nations poor that continue to live in Ghetto's all across the country.
Today, what is happening doesn't even come close to solving or gaining an upper hand in reducing the nations poor. For example when the residents of housing projects are relocated or gain section 8 housing grants these individuals still are poor but are now expected to maintain property at the same level as their neighbor who is not receiving any governmental assistance. In too many instances all across the country the intentions are there but the financial means are not. Another prime example of how ineffective our government and corporate America is in helping reducing our nations poor in reality continues to make any attempt at getting out of housing projects and off of section 8 that much more difficult.
Our business and corporate climate continues to thwart individuals attempts from climbing out of the poverty rates when there is so little jobs available. And, if one is fortunate to land a job while on a section 8 grant or in public housing the jobs themselves don't even come close to the wages that are necessary to compensate for the high cost of living. When the jobs themselves pay so little but pay enough to eliminate the assistance programs, like that safety net [pun intended] that one came to rely on it is not worth taking that job. Most times if one accepts the job the section 8 status is revoked or substantially reduced so instead of only paying, say $200 a month for rent, now will have to pay over $800 a month. Child care, forget it. Food stamps again, will be substantially reduced or eliminated all together if the job pays more than $8 per hr. Ultimately it is business and our government that continues to wage this war against poverty, again, like the war on drugs with little or no foresight to put in place solutions to reduce the nations fastest growing segment of the population so that another little child that is born doesn't end up like the ending of Elvis Presley's "In The Ghetto."