All posts by David A. Smith

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The Guru Is In: NIMBY-da-fé

In November, 1478, Pope Sixtus IV by fiat granted Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain authority to name inquisitors plenipotentiary to protect the one true faith from unbelievers. In October, 2000, multiply re-elected Boston mayor Thomas Menino by fiat created for the Boston Redevelopment Authority the Impact Advisory Group process to protect communities from ‘large-scale’ developers. The mayor’s action, like those of many other big-city mayors across the country, reflected a pattern of increasing NIMBY empowerment now triumphant in far too many American cities: an elaborate public spectacle casting a veneer of altruistic morality over a power play culminating in an autocratic decision.

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Introduction: To What End?

For 52 years, from the suburban house I grew up in, through four dorm rooms, a rent-controlled apartment, a condo and then two houses, there has sat on my bookshelves a thick densely printed small-print paperback. A few days ago, I pulled it down and read. Its sobering messages, now a half-century old, have recently taken on new resonance.

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The Guru Is In: Healthy Housing On the Horizon

Insufficient ventilation and insanitary surroundings reduce the vital resisting power of individuals exposed to such conditions; overcrowding causes closer contact with the infected individuals, and the absence of sunlight prevents the destruction of disease germs by nature’s principal disinfecting agent.

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The Guru Is In: Public Housing Comes Out Of Its Shell

When Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) was launched eight years ago, the public housing world was encased in its own hard shell: HUD officials speaking at NAHRO or CLPHA conferences to explain and cheerlead for the program were greeted with skepticism and suspicion only a skosh short of hostility.

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