When Neighborhoods Improve, Social Safety Nets Unravel

Residents of one Las Vegas community fear being evicted as an urban renewal project goes underway. According to this article, projects like this often hurt neighborhoods by destroying the social ties they once contained.
December 18, 2008, 1pm PST | Judy Chang
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"Mindy Thompson Fullilove, a research psychiatrist at New York State Psychiatric Institute and a professor of clinical psychiatry and public health at Columbia University, calls this 'root shock.' According to Fullilove, tearing down buildings in poor neighborhoods often uproots people from their surroundings, in the name of urban renewal.

The result, she says, is that people lose many resources vital to their well-being, including relationships with family and friends that often form a safety net for surviving poverty.

Fullilove has studied the phenomenon in the wake of the widespread urban renewal projects that swept the United States from the 1950s to the 1980s.

She says planners often tear down areas that are considered blight without including area residents in the planning process, a wrong foot forward.

'Neighborhoods are like an ecosystem, with lots of parts and complex relationships between those parts,' Fullilove says. 'If you have a plan that doesn't take into account all those parts, it's hard to make it work.'"

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Published on Wednesday, December 17, 2008 in Las Vegas Sun
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