NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


February 25, 2010

Conservatives don't talk much about cities but they actually have an urban policy of which to boast, says Howard Husock, a vice president of policy research at the Manhattan Institute. 

Most notably, the triumph of New York-style crime prevention-oriented policing has led to a public safety revolution, one that allows poorer neighborhoods and their residents to thrive by actually reducing crime: 

  • "Compstat" policing has served as a rebuke to liberals who insisted that only some ill-defined social justice utopia would ever cut crime; instead, it turns out that cutting crime allows cities to rebound.
  • In New York, where property values in Brooklyn and Harlem have skyrocketed, the numbers are simply stunning - -a drop in murder from 2200 in 1990 to just 471 last year -- a drop that benefits at-risk minority group members the most by literally saving their lives.

So, too, has welfare reform -- passed by a Republican Congress in 1996 - which helped cut into the culture of underclass dependency that had come to dominate too many urban neighborhoods, says Husock: 

  • Its work requirement and time limit has been an astounding policy success, with the emergence of an urban working class its embodiment.
  • Again using New York as the example, the welfare rolls have dropped over 20 years from 1. 1 million to just 320,000. 

And other policies with conservative pedigrees are showing significant promise, says Husock: 

  • In Atlanta, the city Housing Authority, led by African-American director Renee Glover, has literally demolished virtually all the city's public housing projects -- replacing some with privately-owned, tax-generating apartment complexes but providing most former tenants with housing vouchers tied to a work requirement. Employment levels have risen from 13 percent to more than 60.
  • In Newark, Democratic Mayor Cory Booker has used a combination of private philanthropy and public funds to start the Newark Prisoner Reentry Initiative -- focused on steering returning ex-offenders toward a "rapid attachment to work" and away from new crime.  

Source: Howard Husock, "A Conservative Agenda for Cities," The Washington Examiner, February 24, 2010. 


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