Alleviating Urban Blight Mariah Beatty-Adams Kent School of Social Work University of Louisville Urban Blight in Louisville Louisville is known for internationally for the annual derby, that the upper-class and wealthy attend as a group for recreation, and entertainment. It is a time that economically, that the city is in its element. Millions of dollars are spent on derby paraphernalia, horse paraphernalia and alcohol for the masses. The city is becomes a city that never sleeps. Patrons of the derby are attracted to the large three malls, the hustle and vibrancy of the “ hipster” mini- town of Bardstown Rd. and are seen at all the touristic options throughout town; especially those that are directly related to our city’s most prized possession, Muhammad Ali. Although patrons are excited to learn about Muhammad’s hometown, no one frequents past 9th street, an area that is infamously known for crime, and drugs. West Louisville is an area of the city that is known for not only crime that is birth from the area, but also falling victim to urban blight, similar to other urban and inner city areas of large cities nationally and globally.
According to the US Census, out of more than 5000 properties in the five neighborhoods that make up West Louisville, 22. 1% of the homes are vacant or abandoned. An area that used to thrive with African American businesses, and industrial powerhouses that were less than environmentally friendly, has fell victim to the counter- productive action of urban renewal. There are only a slew offast foodrestaurants, and an even larger number of liquor stores; unfortunately leading to the area become afooddesert.
An area where residents cannot acquire the ideal nutrients that are set by the FDA that every person should digest to remain healthy and active. However minorities are often limited to processed package foods, due to their only being one grocery store in the area. The only businesses there are seen in the area are barbershops, beauty salons, payday loan businesses, and a handful of makeshift retail stores. Leaving several residents without means for an income, becoming even more impoverished. Out of the 61, 251 people inhabiting West Louisville, on average 13. 4% are unemployed.
This doesn’t take account the several workers who are underemployed, struggling to make ends meet in an area that is not known for upward mobility. A change must be brought to the area that does not have a negative impact on the inhabitants, but a solution that will bring in a sense of promise and change the lives of the people who live in the constant fear that their local government has truly forgot about. In the year of 1957, Louisville constituents voted on a $5 million urban renewal project. Urban renewal refers to the public efforts to bring life into the aging and decaying inner cities across that nation.
The term was heavily used and introduced to cities following World War II. Unfortunately the path to urban renewal is too destroy what is deemed destructive. Several businesses and public housing homes were tore down leaving the inhabitants to fend for themselves and business owners on the streets with theirdreamsin stride. Instead of working with already strong foundations and beautiful architecture, these pieces of history were demolished, destroying the sense of community with the debris caused by destruction.
Thrown up in the place of these businesses and homes, were new pieces of architecture, still leaving the cause of West Louisville’s blight unharmed. Ethical Analysis and Ideologies of Current Solution Urban renewal in Louisville embraces the private good over the well-being of the public. Similar to the theory presented in the analysis titled The Economics and Ethics of Private Property by Hans-Hermann Hoppe, where he goes even far as to describe in great detail the fallacies of the public good.
Results of the destruction caused by urban renewal have shadows of the historical ideologies that our nation’s closed mind, white superiority foundation. Ideologies such as Individualism, Independence and the Protestant Work Ethic. Where the results have left the residents of the community on their own(individualism) The protestant work ethic is founded on the vision of wealth. “ Hard workand wealth are signs of personal and moral worth” unfortunately minorities the west end work hard and have no wealth, nor anything to show for their work efforts. Those who are poor are considered as not having a proper or sufficient work ethic and are often considered inferior”. (Enoch, 2012) When constituents are living inpovertyand are feeling forgotten, you have not worried about those who are affected, or an ends to a mean. Nor did the urban renewal ordinance use funds to access the source of urban blight or the lack of income in the community. Unemployment and lack of economy of the area are the crooks behind the hundreds of desolate and abandoned homes all over the West end.
Non- profit organizations, such as the Metropolitan HousingCoalition, struggle to combat urban decay; yet have not found viable and visual solutions to the social issue. Proposed Solution To combat the social issue of urban decay, we must educate the residents of the area, many residents who are unhappy with theirenvironment; yet have not been given the voice to help create and foster change in their own community. For change to be truly progressive, the need for change must be truly felt by those who are affected.
Educationis a key source of change. We must hear and allow residents to speak up on the changes that they want to be seen, the problem with social issues are that the activists are often times people who are not living in the environment that they work to change. We have no idea what changes are truly needed from residents, and they may be unaware that the changes that they need to live are in fact available or tangible. With a united need for change, activists and groups such as MHC, need to work with residents to establish a sense of community.
Areas throughout the west end and their inhabitants are often portrayed in the news and media as enemies, several people who grew up in neighboring areas are seen slain, both victims of death and self-hate. If we are working for the same change, how would that be tangible without a sense of unity? To establish education and also a sense of community, there needs to be monthly West End hall meetings, where Advisory boards from each of the five neighborhoods in West Louisville speak amongst each other and activists on the changes that need to be seen and together produce a set of actions to complete the changes needed.
Also establish classes in simple do-it- yourself projects that could be done in abandoned homes to rebuild them together, and also throw park clean up parties to get rid of the trash and debris that are in the park and renovate parks that are deemed desolate. To get youth involved establish youth advisory boards, similar to Pact in Action, to speak on the changes they would see and provide the youth with the resources and voice needed for their educationalcareerand changes. To nd the downward mobility that has only been available to several of the residents. Also coordinate neighborhood block parties and barbeques so it can be a sense of community that could not only be felt but seen by residents. To reestablish a flow of economy in the neighborhoods, and reduce themoneygoing to fast food restaurants and liquor stores; have communities and neighborhoods raise money to purchase abandoned pieces of land that are full of garbage and debris, and turn them into a community garden.
It would slowly but surely put an end to the food desert that the West has grown to be and reestablish healthy habits within the community. Every weekend there could be an organized farmer market between the neighborhoods where residents could sell the food they hand grew, and supplement a form of income in the several homes that are in need. Possibly establishing a shopping district, similar to the ones that were owned by African Americans in the 50’s and 60’s, to give residents a steady means of income.
Instead of selling and advertising areas such as downtown, and east Louisville as business gems, sell west Louisville to possible business prospects by stating the cheap rent rates and the vast number of available lots and homes that can be “ flipped”, instead of spending a fortune on new buildings and offices. Establish a working relationship with business prospects and the community to introduce prospective employees. Working relationships should be facilitated by the Council for a compassionate city, the mayor’s office, and also the governor’s office.
The governor could benefit by acquiring skills and knowledge to produce the same action plans in cities in the state that are also victims of white flight and urban blight. To efficiently reduce and hopefully alleviate the social issue. Several people who have lived in the city of Louisville have not ventured past 9th street. I believeit is due to the 7th street connector and 9th street connector or “ Great Wall of Louisville” as I affectionately refer to it. Which is constructed I’m sure was constructed at a time where city ordinances were processed to segregate African Americans from white neighborhoods and areas.
As a suggestion from Louisville Mag, this construction needs to be demolished similar to the homes and businesses of the impoverished to allow the West End community and the other areas to not only allow economic growth but a sense of community that can lead to resources in the renovation of west Louisville. However in its opposite it is proposed that there is a connection from the water front and connectors from the west end. Possibly leading to shopping districts to the west end. Also provide access with two lane roads and to businesses. Ethical Analysis of Proposed Solution/ Theory
These actions adopt both deontological theories and Rawlsian liberalism. Deontological theories believe that you do not harm individuals especially minorities; and is about moral obligations. Meaning it is based on the community as a whole and will not allow an individual to fall underneath the economical cracks. According to Rawlsian Liberalism, each person is to have an equal right to the most extensive basic liberty compatible with a similar liberty for others. (the Liberty Principle) Meaning every person should have the right to healthy food, and the basic necessities for living.
Families in the area currently have a high rate of unemployment, and can’t acquire the things they need on the lack of income, or no income they have. With these plans the conditions of both will improve, may not be the first day but one day. Work Cited 1. moss, J. (2013, march 13). West of ninth. Louisville Magazine, Retrieved from http://loumag. epubxp. com/i/111400/30 2. Stemle, C. (2013, march 13) So close, but so far. Louisville Magazine, retrieved from http://loumag. epubxp. com 3. Jimenez, J. (2011). Social policy and social change. Long Beach: Sage publications.