Sudhir Venkatesh

Sudhir Alladi Venkatesh is Director of the Center for Urban Research and Policy, and Director of the Charles H. Revson Fellowship Program, both at Columbia University.

Recent Articles

An Invisible Community

Everyone seems to agree that public housing has no redeeming value -- everyone, that is, but the tenants.

C hicago's plans for restructuring its public housing developments and ending the "nightmare" of high-rise public housing living are ambitious: construction of large mixed-income residential developments; guaranteed relocation of displaced tenants; adequate living accommodations for those who want to stay in the community; and an environment free of the scourges of American public housing—gangs, drugs, and crime. At media events celebrating the plans in 1995, public housing tenants stood alongside then Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Henry Cisneros and city officials, telling reporters that the tenants were grateful for being "freed to choose" the private housing market. Claiming to speak for those living in the city's public high-rises, these individuals, almost always middle-aged and elderly women, asserted that residents support wholeheartedly the demolition of their current living quarters. Yet beneath these smoothly choreographed public displays lies a more...