Box 21, Folder 29, Document 3

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Box 21, Folder 29, Document 3

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·,.
Something New
And Hopeful
Mayor Ivan Allen of Atlanta has handed
Washington the first fresh idea to emerge from
$
·
the smoke pall covering Detroit and the other
devastated cities. Most suggestions for repairing the splintering
society of the slums have been old stuff. And the antipoverty programs as presently constituted have not yet succeeded, obviously ,
in generating much community cohesion among the poor .
How. then, can programs grow out of the slums-instead of
being pressed onto them-so the poor can develop a stake in their
community that will hopefully discourage them from burning it
down?
Allen's suggestion was simple, expensive, but promising.
The three great needs of the urban poor are jobs, housing and
education, he reasoned. Supply the first two and education can
follow .
So why not create jobs by building housing?
9' .
. &l
• • •
Set up a three-to-five-year crash program, he said. Recognize
that rebuilding of the slums is of the highest national priority, so
· pour $20 to $30 billion of federal money per year into the job and
get it done .
Tear down the slums of urban America and build back decent
low-cost housing. Everybody-not just the poor-will gain by this
salvage of the cities.
Make it 0 provision of contracts with the builders that a
reasonable percentage of the men they hire must be the slum
dwellers themselves .
Thus provide jobs ( or training, and then jobs) for +he jobless
poor while also providing housing.
Like most @>od ideas, Alle·,·s proposal has the virtue of directness and simplicity. It would work, if there were a national
will to make it work. Certainly the nation wants something done
by now; whether this Congress is bold enough to move decisively
is another question.
• • •
Yet the mayor at least said something riew. And he said it
Monday in Washington, which is a place that needs to hear something new and hopeful. The President's mix of urban programs
meets some needs; but a centerpiece project of such dimension as
Allen proposes should appeal to him.
In the meantime, Atlanta's low-cost housing efforts must go on.
And the Ebenezer Baptist Church, of which the Martin Lother
Kings, father and son, are pastors, has joined the Rev. Sam
Williams' Friendship Baptist and the Rev. William Holmes Borders' Wheat Street Baptist in setting an example that white
churches might note. They formed a non-profit corporation, put up
some seed money, and qualified under the federal 221-d-3 housing
program to contract for the building of $1.8 mlllion worth of decent, low-cost housing on the site of a former slum, utilizing federal mortagage money at half the interest drawn by commercial
loans. To the hundreds of slum poor who will be able to move into
clean rooms at rents beginning at $55, this is Christianity in action.
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  1. http://allenarchive.iac.gatech.edu/originals/ahc_CAR_015_021_029_003.pdf

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