Thanks for Everything (Now Get Out) Can We Restore Neighborhoods without Destroying Them? Joseph Margulies

Publication date:
11 Jan 2022
Yale University Press
304 pages: 216 x 140mm
1 b-w illus.
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A radical rethinking of how to make distressed urban neighborhoods more livable while preserving the residents’ ability to live there

When a distressed urban neighborhood gentrifies, all the ratios change: poor to rich; Black and Brown to white; unskilled to professional; uninsured to insured; food insecure to food secure. Vacant lots become condos, junkyards become parks, and trendy new restaurants open. But the people who originally lived there—enduring miserable conditions for years and working hard to change them—are gradually driven out. For them, the neighborhood hasn’t been restored so much as destroyed.
Focusing on the Olneyville section of Providence, Rhode Island, Joseph Margulies asks, Can we rebuild such neighborhoods without setting the stage for their destruction? Is failure the inevitable cost of success? His answer is based on years of interviews and on-the-ground observation. Margulies argues for innovative and practical strategies of self‑government and advocates for a new form of organization—the “neighborhood trust”—to give low-income residents ownership and control of assets to allow them to chart their own future.

Joseph Margulies is a civil rights attorney and professor of law and government at Cornell University. His most recent book is What Changed When Everything Changed: 9/11 and the Making of National Identity. He lives in Ithaca, NY.