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Knock on Any Door: The Intersection Between Housing and the Juvenile Justice System

NCJ Number
Georgetown Journal on Poverty Law & Policy Volume: 16 Dated: 2009 Pages: 631-654
Michael A. Corriero; Michelle E. Haddad
Date Published
24 pages
After explaining why living in impoverished neighborhoods increases the likelihood of criminal behavior among youth living in these neighborhoods, this article presents a historical overview of housing in the United States, followed by an exploration of the link between efforts to improve housing and reform the juvenile justice system.
Living in poverty-stricken housing and poor neighborhoods has been shown to be the most important factor in determining which youths are the most likely to commit crimes. Role models become those who see that the mainstream system does not serve the poor, so the poor must find their own way to survive through force (violent crime) and taking property and money from the affluent. A historical overview of housing for low-income families in America shows the pattern of replacing slums with public housing ("The Projects"), but then public housing became occupied by those with low educational levels and incomes, i.e., minorities and single mothers. The issues of education, vocational skills, and job training were not addressed, so poverty persisted among those in public housing, as did crime. In developing a model to address these concerns there are existing examples. Programs such as Housing Opportunities for People Everywhere ("HOPE VI"), which was established by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, could be implemented across the Nation. HOPE VI has three main goals: "shelter" (the elimination of dilapidated and dangerous public housing); "self-sufficiency" (providing residents of public housing with the opportunity to learn and acquire skills needed for self-sufficiency); and "community sweat equity" (encouraging responsible self-sufficiency that leads to unselfish community building). Community corporations such as YouthBuild USA and the Harlem Children's Zone are examples of such community building, whereby community residents assume responsibility for improving the social and physical conditions of their neighborhoods. 145 notes