National authority on public housing speaks on urban issues

Devin Burke

George Latimer, a leading national authority on urban issues, discussed his view that social and economic policy must go hand in hand on Wed., Feb. 26. The lecture was a Lawrence University science hall colloquium.In Latimer’s talk, “Cities in Search of Community,” the former mayor of St. Paul, Minn. also noted that grass roots community development has bloomed in the U.S. in recent years, but along with that trend, a growing cynicism towards government beyond the local level has also risen. He pointed out that this feeling of alienation from government has not grown despite community building, but with it.

During his colloquium and in his talk with two classes on Thursday, Latimer spoke about public housing, saying that public housing has become “almost a dead matter now, because it’s so much in disrepute.” He ascribed the public’s negativity towards public housing as a result of politicization of the management of public housing.

Latimer gave communities as much blame as city councils for a nationwide lack of affordable housing. While low-income wages still do not meet housing costs, the NMBYism (Not in my Backyard) of neighborhood associations provide a barrier to building subsidized housing