If you’re a reader of James Kunstler’s books and blog, you’re familiar with his argument that “the suburbs have no future.” Indeed, he predicts that even if the current subprime mess is resolved, the suburbs aren’t coming back.
Kunstler has never been very good with the timing of his predictions, but his casandra-like pronouncements seem to be matching up with reality if you go by some of the worst examples coming out of the States. The foreclosures resulting in vacant housing are severely impacting the viability of some neighbourhoods.
Here’s an article from The Charlotte Observer – New Suburbs in Fast Decay – sent along by Portland Metro Councilor Robert Liberty.
In Peachtree Hills, police are summoned nearly 300 times a year, mostly for property crimes in the 147 homes. But the 4-year-old neighborhood, near Sunset Road, has also seen robberies, shootings and gang displays more commonly associated with violent urban areas — not new subdivisions.
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Fourteen-year-old Devon Smith was shot dead there in July. Graffiti memorializes his name on the sidewalks and benches. Spray paint also proclaims “Bloods 4 Life” and “PT Blood.”
“All I wanted was a safe place with some backyard space for my son to run around, but that’s not what we got,” says Stacy Hall, 36, a medical claims processor and single mom, whose Peachtree home was burglarized last year. They got away with $110 in day care money. And in November, she arrived home to find a police helicopter hovering and officers chasing men through her yard.
“I was like, `Where am I? L.A. or something?’ ”
A Chicago study found that when the foreclosure rate increases 1 percentage point in a neighborhood, its violent crime rate jumps 2.3 percent.