Why do cities often have hellhole ghetto inner cores? Any solution?

Why would people live in such a place? My guess is that they can’t afford to live anywhere else.

Is there any possible solution to this problem?

Sure, just cure poverty.


Hi panache45.

Giving sarcastic responses when someone is ignorant of something, or unsure of something, even if it’s obvious, is counterproductive. The way that one learns is to ask and hostility from others is of no help in fighting ignorance.

For example, you will often find in classes that people are afraid to ask questions for fear of looking stupid. This is detrimental to their education.

Moving this to Great Debates.

samclem Moderator, General Questions

You’re right, of course. Sorry.

The redevelopment of downtown cores has been one of the top issues for mayors and town councillors for decades now.

Ever since the suburban strip malls and subdivisions started taking hold in the 1970s, downtown cores have been pillaged. City planners have been trying to rectify this for a number of years by reducing taxes and providing other business incentives for downtown, but not much has changed. As a society we, in North America, are growing older and and are placing more demand on environmentally efficient living. A consequence of this has been more condominium units downtown and therefore less emphasis on personal transportation. As fuel prices escalate, and as the next generation looks to curb their environmental impact (footprint) I believe the downtown cores of all major cities in North America will reap a significant revitilization.

People are moving back into cities and this is becoming less and less true.

Where are the poor living?

Re " My guess is that they can’t afford to live anywhere else."

Interestingly this is not always the case. In my college days in the 70’s there were several studies referencing the fact that while many middle class people assume that 'ghetto" dwellers will flee the inner city as fast as possible, the realty is much more complex, and there are often issues such as social comfort and simply the fact that inner cities are more interesting and vital places to live (obviously opinions vary on this) that keep some from moving even if they have the opportunity. While inner cities may be “hellholes” to some there are plenty of people that make a living in these environments and the social blandness, lack of activity, and soft racism of suburban settings are not always preferable to many people even if they have a choice.

All cities have bad neighborhoods. The problem is that some cities have no good neighborhoods.

In my opinion, it’s really a problem of the “underclass.” The “underclass” is basically a subset of the population which has a tendency to behave very irresponsibly/improvidently/self-destructively.

Quite reasonably, people outside of the underclass do not want to live near the underclass, so “hellhole ghettos” as you call them develop.

Logically, I can think a few possible causes for the problem of the underclass. First, that children born into the underclass tend to absorb the poor values of their parents (actually, their mother since their father probably is not around) and their community. Second, that children born into the underclass tend to have lower cognitive skills due to the genes they receive from their parents (as well as their upbringing. Third, that people outside the underclass discriminate against members of the underclass which helps to keep them down.

I would guess that all of these things play a role. Politically, the easiest ways to address the problem of the underclass is to devote resources to educating them and giving them opportunities. This has actually been tried to an extent in the United States and it hasn’t made that big of a dent in the problem.

In my opinion, that’s because education/opportunities probably don’t go that far against the double whammy of (1) lousy parents; and (2) the genes (actually alleles) passed on by those parents. Politically, it’s difficult (and expensive) to take children away from their parents except in the most extreme cases. Also, that would not address the genetic problem.

In my opinion, the key is to find a politically acceptable way to raise the cognitive function of people in the underclass. My idea is to look for a drug or food supplement which will make people smarter. We already have drugs which make people stronger.

Unlike Brazil84, it is not entirely a behavioral problem per se …

People simply put do not like strange and unusual. People stay near family and neighborhoods they have lived in all their lives. Generations …

I get relatively well educated and paid people at various jobs that are amazed that I have been ‘away from home’ [the town I more or less grew up in, though we actually moved around, and shifted between winter and summer homes] since I was 20 and have no burning desire to move back. They simply cant concieve of moving to where they cant just drop in and see sis/mom.brother/grandparent/cousins.

Certainly there is the lack of large amounts of ready money. Dont know if you have had to move, but nowdays it takes a fair amount of money to actually move to a new area, you need to rent a place, that can take first month, last month and sometimes an additional deposit [most people cant afford over $1000 without a lot of careful saving] you need to hook up electricity [another several hundred for deposit again] and telephone [though most people nowdays can simply get one of those prepaid cells] and then there is supporting yourself until you can actually find a job… so just to go from being poor in say, Buffalo NY to moving where? a poor section of Rochester, Detroit, Nashville?

What benefit is there going from one slum/mcdonalds job to a different slum/mcdonalds job? They can stay where they were born and at least have friends and family around them
Now, if you really think about it, the military used to be a good way to escape the ghetto, but nowdays all it takes is one arrest for possession and not graduating school to be refused … at least I dont think the military will take you without at least the GED … and currently there really isnt any main incentive to stay in school for most ghetto dwellers. You dont need a diploma to work mcdonalds…

And life really isnt this simplistic, but you get the idea…

In Atlanta’s case, those who have been displaced by gentrification have moved into older apartment complexes in the inner suburbs. (For example, in Clayton County, south of Atlanta.)

The ghettoization of American city cores is a complex issue. I see corrupt city governments and rent controls as a big cause-landlords have no incentive to upgrade housing, so the buildings fall into disrepair. also, the activities of groups like the ACLU-there was once a time when you had to be married , to be eligible for public housing-we cannot be judgemental, so you have all these fatherless families. Also: public schools cannot enforce any rules or behaviors, so education gets worse and worse.
The real big cause; the decline of manufacturing in the USA-the little factories that used to provide jobs for unskilled people are now in China-so the kids cannot find work. all of this has contributed to the growth of an underclass, which rejects middle class values and mores.

Well, you can listen to the people saying “black people are dumb and greedy and deserve what they get!” or you can listen to me.

Suburbanization began with the GI bill after WWII. It allowed returned veterans to buy houses under favorable terms. They bought in droves from the inexpensive suburbs that were popping up around every city. Since the military was segregated and black people did not serve in proportional numbers, they did not benefit as much and largely missed out on the first wave into the suburbs.

In the 1950s and 60s, both formal and informal segregation kept black people out of the suburbs. Black people who did manage to get someone to sell them a house in a “nice” part of town faced stuff like burning crosses on their lawn. So, they established their roots in the newly spacious cities.

As time went by, we started implementing government policies that favor the suburbs. We tore up trolley tracks and started building highways (later, when we built light rail systems, we conveniently didn’t put any stops in “bad” neighborhoods.) We created massive subsidies for home ownership. We created a systems- like CA Prop 13- where public schools in new suburbs get top notch funding and schools in the inner city get minimal funding. We zoned for malls and strip malls in a way that caused the downtown shopping districts to whither and die.

The new development is the “ring ghetto.” The people who grew up in the suburbs of the 50s and 60s have moved on to more fashionable suburbs further out from town. And now the sprawl has reached the point where commuting is impossible and people are starting to move back into the cities. What this leaves is a hollow ring of poorly maintained older suburbs around the city. These are the new ghettos. Which is unfortunate, since suburbs are really built for a car-centered lifestyle and it is much harder to provide social services in the suburbs.

Lol. Nice straw man.

Hey, I have an idea. Let’s pressure banks into making lots of mortgage loans to poor people without any down payment. That should fix the problem.

I have another idea: Let’s pick one poor school district, say - Kansas City --, and put lots and lots of money into funding that district. Once everyone sees what a great success it is, we can do the same thing with other school districts.

As others have said, the reasons are varied and complex, and they vary from region to region. Even the form of “the ghetto” varies.

I’d like to bring up is the phenomenon of housing filtration. In slower growing metropolitan areas, where house prices never really boomed, the housing needs of lower income groups are accommodated largely through filtration, where houses originally built for higher income groups are passed down through lower income groups during their lifespan.

The traditional “ghetto” was made up of housing that was designed and built specifically for low income groups; tenement blocks, shotgun shacks, worker’s cottages, tight rowhouses, and so on. In affluent metropolitan areas, the very high cost of housing resulted in the gentrification of that type of housing. In slower-growing metropolitan areas where housing is cheaper, the lowest-of-the-low end is eventually abandoned. There’s no modern equivalent of such housing, except subsidized apartment complexes and single-wide mobile homes, the latter of which is usually located in exurban and rural areas. Thus, housing in the ghetto increasingly consists of hand-me-down housing that was formerly occupied by higher income groups, usually located in neighborhoods that are convenient to older areas. The “push effect” of the oncoming ghetto, along with the affordability of much better digs in the region, causes the former residents to flee. The resulting buyer’s market pushes prices down, and lower income groups fill the gap.

If there’s a growing middle class minority population, why is the ghetto growing in some cities? Housing in the traditional “ghetto” eventually loses all of its value, and becomes undesirable even among the lowest income groups. Before the 1970s, ghetto areas uised to be more densely populated than the region at large; today, with the destruction and demolition of housing in the ghetto, and the resulting emergence of urban prairies, ghettos are less densely populated. Family and household sizes are also smaller. Lower income groups are literally being pushed out of the central city, and into outlying areas.

In Cleveland, the new ghettos are generally post-WWII starter home suburban areas to the northeast and southeast; the monoculture of small Cape Cods and ranch houses built through the 1950s are losing their appeal among middle-income groups, and with housing so cheap in the region, the middle class can afford far more spacious accommodations. In Buffalo, it’s the city’s bungalow belt on the East Side; smaller houses built during the 1920s originally built for the likes of policemen, firemen, railroad workers and so on.

While the black man is oppressed by the white man (or just ‘the man’).`

The black man has been in bondage (spiritually) since the slave trade, and it is made like the black man is being held back by the white man and the white man thinks the black man is inferior, making us fight and blame each other, when the real reason is spiritual, as expressed by Paul:

The black man can’t get ahead because of spiritual bondage, who is going to give a prisoner a good job? That’s what a employer sees spiritually.

Yo, brazil84, do you have any useful critiques of even sven’s explanation for the “ghettoization” of the inner city? I don’t think even sven was recommending any fixes for the problem (like pressuring banks to give loans) or suggesting that dumping money into specific school districts was a method of reversing the trend, he was just trying to answer the OP. What problems do you see with his answer? If none, then STFU and leave the debating to those who are interested in understanding the problem and not scoring political points…

Regarding your explanation; I find it lacking in scientific rigor. If I understand you correctly, you are saying that ghettos exist because of a self-destructive underclass that is defined significantly by their genetic makeup and that the only hope we have in improving their behavior is to develop some new drugs that make people smarter (so their genes make then not only self destructive, but stupid too). This hypothesis does not really stand up to critical thought for a couple of reasons:

  1. It does not explain the evolution of ghettos through American history. In the past their have been ghettos in the US that were populated by Poles, Italians, the Irish, etc… In the main these ghettos have disappeared and the underclass of the day has been replaced by a new underclass as they were absorbed into the middle class. Either these people suddenly and inexplicitly developed new mutations that overcame their stupidity and self-destructiveness, or more likely their genes have nothing to do with it.

  2. There are many examples of families that have almost identical genetic makeup and upbringings that have members in the middleclass suburbs and in the inner city ghettos. How is this possible if their stupidity and self-destructiveness is a result of genetics and education.

  3. Specifically, since the majority of American ghettos these days are predominately African American, we should be able to see a measurable difference in the IQs of this genetic group when compared to the largely successful genetic groups that also exist in this country (say ethnic Germans or those with their ancestors from the UK). These tests can easily be controlled to remove the affects of poverty and education so we are comparing apples to apples. Actually these tests have already been done and very little difference exists between these genetic groups.

So now for some questions: did you make up this theory of yours out of whole cloth, or did you read it somewhere?