Jul 8, 2016
Allentown's Solution Is Its Problem
When I ran as an independent for mayor in 2005, my message was shunned by The Morning Call and the establishment. I stated that Allentown had become a poverty magnet, and very soon that density of poverty would create urban problems not normally associated with cities this small. Multiple social agencies were giving hardcore transients "move in" money. Lo and behold eleven years later, despite a $Billion dollars of development, the city still thinks that the problem is a lack of affordable housing.
Allentown doesn't suffer from lack of affordable housing, Allentown suffers from too much affordable housing, and too much political correctness. Stand across from a city center corner market and watch three generations of people throw their empty snack bags on the sidewalk, even though they are only 25 feet away from a trash can. We don't need $2 an hour parking meters, we need $25 dollar littering fines. We don't need a Parking Authority, we need a Littering Authority.
The City and the NIZ board are going to do a study about affordable housing, hire a consultant and probably include some local neighborhood advocates. The Morning Call will write some articles about it. When they come up with a solution they should share it with Detroit, Camden, Los Angeles, and the other 100 poor urban centers. Gotta love government studies.
ADDENDUM: If the above sounds harsh, understand that as someone who grew up in the 1950's, Allentown was a wonderful place to throw away, and thrown away it was. Although the town has changed radically, that toothpaste is not going back into the tube. New pragmatic leadership is needed. Nothing could be less relevant to overall Allentown than a few blocks on Hamilton Street.