In 1970, Downs wrote a little-known book called URBAN PROBLEMS AND PROSPECTS, in which he more graphically detailed the theory of spatial deconcentration. He developed a bizarre concept in the book entitled "the theory of middle-class dominance." According to him, the dispersal of the inner-city populations to the suburbs could not successfully be completed unless and until a model of dispersal was developed, whereby the artificially induced outflow of minorities from the inner cities would be controlled and directed to the point that they would not be permitted to naturally reconcentrate themselves in the suburbs. This was the heart of the government theory of "integration maintenance." This type of control had to be exercised, according to Downs, because white suburbanites would not remain stable in their bungalows if they were led to suspect that the incoming blacks and other minorities were gaining power through their sheer numbers in the suburbs. The consisten theme of Down's PROBLEMS, Chapters 16 and 17 of the Kerner Commission Report, and Goodman's works at the Institute, was that of control.
The line of thinking about control found reinforcement in another book Downs wrote in 1973, entitled OPENING UP THE SUBURBS: AN URBAN STRATEGY FOR AMERICA. Downs' theories from the Kerner Commission Report crystalized, taking as their cue his arguments laid down in URBAN PROBLEMS. The theory of white "dominance" was carefully discussed in SUBURBS. Included here were ideas for "...a broader strategy," where "...a workable mechanism ensuring that whites will remain in the majority..." was produced. But Chapter 12 of this book showed a marked difference from his writings in either of the former two publications. Chapter 12 of SUBURBS carefully laid down a mechanism which could transform the theories of his former works into practical applications. The chapter was called "Principles of a Strategy of Dispersing Economic Integration," and laid down five basic concepts: 1) establishing a "favorable" political climate for the strategy; 2) creating "economic incentives" for the strategy; 3) preserving suburban middle-class dominance; 4) rebuilding inner-cities; 5) developing a further "comprehensive strategy." In outline format he anlyzed each one. He noted that experiments should be conducted before the strategy was effectuated and that "...more effective means of withdrawing economic support..." should be developed for the inner cities to clear the way for landbanking inner-city neighborhoods. To the amazement of the inner-city housing leaders across the country, Downs' theory of "dispersed economic integration" was exactly reproduced in HUD's Regional Housing Mobility Program Guidebook, issued six years after SUBURBS, in 1979.
Also by 1977, a mysterious "fair housing group" in Chicago, the Leadership Council for Open Metropolitan Communities, was contracted by HUD to begin mobility programming experiments on black high-rise public housing tenants in the Southside and Westside. It was called "The Gatreax Demonstration Program" and achieved in two years the removal to the far suburbs of 400 families. Materials from HUD's 1979 review of the Gatreaux experiment are included in this anthology.
By 1974, the Congress had enacted the Community Development Act. The legislation fused together the Urban Renewal programs of the Johnson era and the Revenue sharing programs of the Nixon Administration. The title to the Act laid out its theory: 1) reduce the geographic isolation of various economic groups; 2) promote spatial deconcentration; 3) revitalize inner-city neighborhoods for iddle- and upper-income groups.
It wasn't until 1975 that point four of Downs' theory in SUBURBS, rebuilding the inner cities, was fully analyzed. It was done in the form of the "triage" report, completed under HUD contract while he was still president of the Real Estate Research Corporation in Chicago, a firm founded by his father, James, some twenty years before. In this report, Downs made it clear that he wasn't projecting the inner-cities being rebuilt for its present residents--the minorities--but for the white middle class; the so-called urban gentry; a theory completely compatible with the Community Development Act of the previous year, Weissbourd's 1968 writings, and the Kerner Commission findings. Under point four in SUBURBS, Downs wrote that "...new means of comprehensively 'managing' entire inner-city neighborhoods should be developed to provide more effective means of withdrawing economic support from housing units that ought to be demolished." In his "triage" report, he wrote that Community Development funds should be withheld from inner-city neighborhoods so as to allow "...a long-run strategy of emptying-out the most deteriorated areas..." A city's basic strategy, he wrote, "would be to accelerate their abandonment..." The land having been "banked," it could be redeveloped for the gentry. He argued that instead of being given increased services, minority neighborhoods should be infused with major demolition projects.
After Patricia Harris became secretary of HUD two years after the enactment of the Community Development Act and one year after the Section 8 program replaced the Section 235 and 236 housing subsidy programs, the General Accounting Office, under the direction of Henry Eschwege, issued a stinging review of the Department's policies. Noting that the Section 8 Program was the "...principal federal program for housing lower-income persons..." the 1978 report suggested, in threatening language, that "HUD needs to develop an implementation plan for deconcentration..." The report argued that "...freedom of choice..." was supposed to be the Department's "primary intent," but that top HUD officials were confused about the policy. HUD, the GAO insisted, was continuing to offer "revitalization" projects in the inner-cities, which was concentrating poverty in the cities. This policy, it stressed, was "incompatible" with spatial deconcentration.
In 1979, on the heels of the GAO report came HUD's Regional Housing Mobility Program. The introduction of the program was itself bizarre, let alone the program. The emrgence of the program was kept so quiet that virtually no grassroots community organizations in the country knew of its existence. The activists in Philadelphia had not even been aware of its existence until August of that year. It still wasn't until November that grassroots leaders encountered an advisory council member to one of the planning agencies--and that was in St. Louis--who openly admitted that the program's success depended on its "invisibility." On August 3, 1979, the planning commission directors of 22 preselected regions in the country were asked by HUD to gather in Washington to be schooled on the mechanics of the program. They were given Guidebooks and asked to return to their respective jurisdictions and prepare from $75,000 to $150,000 applications for the program. The Guidebook made it clear that these regions had been specially selected because of their heavy concentration of minorities. They were instructed to contact major civil rights organizations and gain their "input" into the program. It was not coincidental that the National Urban League was one of the very few black organizations that knew of the program's existence. After all, Vernon Jordan, its president, sits on the board of the Urban Institute.
The Guidebook smacks of computer technology and is prepared with mind-control phrases, such as establishing "beachheads" in "alien" communities; initiating "...a long term promotion of deconcentration;" identifying "...homeseeker traits which operate...on a process of suppression not selection;" and banking on the "...target areas" that "...will require that natural incliniations be altered." True to the Downs model established in SUBURBS and URBAN PROBLEMS, the Guidebook carefully analyzes the financial inducements to be used by the government to force minorities out of the cities and to force uncooperative suburban landlords to accept the program. The Guidebook makes it clear that the program is intended for major expansion by 1982, when its funding base will be switched from HUD-Washington to an assortment of agencies, interestingly including the Community Development Block Grant funds, CETA, and the Ford, Rockefeller, and Alcoa Foundations. The CETA job component clearly traced its theoretical roots not only to Downs, but also to Weissbourd. The Guidebook also carefully lays out the use of the Section 8 program as a primary base for mobility operations.
Once it became clear to inner-city housing leaders that the Mobility Program was nothing more than the first in a set of mechanisms the government intended to use to effectuate the ideas discussed in the Kerner Commission Report, it was easy to organize concerned people around the issue. It was actually a relief to some activists that proof had finally emerged of a real master plan, and not merely another fictionalized account of some remote possibility. Less than one month after the Philadelphia leaders had made their final contacts in Chicago and New York City, a five-city conference was organized in Washington. Called the Grassroots Unity Conference, and held in January, 1980, it focused on driving the message home to the government, through HUD, that the master plan had been exposed and efforts were being organized in key regions of the country to stop it. An almost violent meeting was held between top HUD officials and activists from Washington, Chicago, St. Louis, New York and Philadelphia during the two-day conference. A busload if inner-city residents literally invaded the Urban Institute offices and persuaded its staff to hand over dozens of documents that further reinforced community leaders' arguments that a master plan existed, and that the Mobility Program was merely the first step in a new series of programs designed to systematically empty the inner-cities of their minority residents.
The friction slowly being generated between the government and the inner-city communities over this programming and its exposure has the potential of producing a major domestic crisis in the U.S. Housing and community activists have for years been confused about the nature of the deterioration of the inner cities. The confusion often led to disillusionment and bitter dissension that sometimes created malevolent situations within the inner circles of community leaders and groups. Many community leaders knew that the government was not an innocent party to the problems of the cities, but few imagined the close association between it and private market forces in systematically driving the poor and the black out of the cities. Fewer still realized that the government had helped organize the "control" strategy from its inception. Now that the master plan is being slowly uncovered by persistent efforts of grassroots leaders and the confusion within community groups is evaporating, it may not be possible to vent their anger in non-destructive ways when the tale is finally told.
Some elements of the black community, for instance, have argued for years that the government had declared a "secret war" on blacks in America. Now evidence exists which makes the point difficult, if not impossible, to defeat. At least an innocent observer must ask the question: "What kind of government would allow these types of strategies to develop and thrive?" Even more to the point, one must ask: "How stable can a government be with such information emerging?" It now seems evident that the Constitution, which the Kerner Commissioners and the Johnson Administration feared was in need of special protection, does not apply to all people in America, but only the hite middle class. The only way the government can now disprove this argument is to abolish all types of mobility programming and the "think tanks" that shaped it.
Researchers in all parts of the country who believe the government is travelling a lethal path are now uncovering major pieces of evidence to show the elaborate workings of the master plan. Some of their arguments are enclosed in Part III of this book, under the title "The Minority Response." Other technical data are enclosed in Parts IV and V. Of particular interest in Part V are the listings offered by the Urban Institute under housing allowance programs. Section 8 experimentation takes up a good portion of the available listings. A cursory examination of some of these papers--and in some instances a mere reading of the project titles--plainly shows the determination of the government to manipulate the Section 8 Program as a key instrument to force inner-city residents to move into the suburbs through the Mobility Program. It aptly explains why these same researchers created the Section 235, 236 and Section 8 programs in the first place. Included in Part IV are lists of Boards of Trustees of the Brookings and Urban Institutes in Washington, D.C. Attempts were made, in preparation for this edition, to include a listing of the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations Boards of Trustees. These corporations, however, refused to release their Annual Reports.
The exposure of the Mobility Program's real intentions will hopefully change the direction of the government. If not, then the worst can be assumed for the future of the U.S. because no righteous people on the face of the Earth would or should permit the existence of such policy, even if its dismemberment means inevitable confrontation or conflagration.
Several aspects of this mobility programming have deliberately been avoided at this time. Cyrus Vance, for instance, was Deputy Secretary of Defense at the time of the Detroit riot of 1967 and the initiation of the Kerner Commission Report. By 1980 Vance was Secretary of State, directly responsible for at least one organization named in the report, the Agency for International Development, widely reputed for its CIA ties. He was also a trustee of the Urban Institute, along with Robert McNamara, chairman of the World Bank and former Secretary of Defense under Johnson. A reasonable question emerges at this point: "Why is the military so closely attached to this mobility programming?" Or worse, "What does the military intend to do in the event that this mobility-type programming fails, the black and other inner-city minorities remain in large part in the cities into the turn of the century, and riots create greater so-called threats to Constitutional safeguards?" After all, Downs himself stated in SUBURBS that he believed the mobility programming would fail. Is the recent history of Greece or Chile the logical answer to these questions? Did the military, in 1967, issue an ultimatum to the government to remove the blacks and other inner-city minorities to black suburban "townships" in knit-glove fashion with the option, in failure, being the iron fist? Further, how could it have been possible for the surgical demolition operations in the minority neighborhoods of the cities to be so identical in all American cities? Could any organization other than the Pentagon have done this?
These questions have been left unexplored because the weight of available documentation and the speed with which it is being collected and digested has been burdensome on anti-mobility forces. Further, this discussion about the military must be carefully explored by itself because of its obvious sensitivity. Also left for "Book II" is the discussion concerning the companion programs of the Mobility Program, one of which, the Areawide Housing Opportunity Plan (AHOP), literally dwarfs the Mobility Program. Their successful exploration and revelation may make Watergate look pale by comparison.
Originally published in World War III Illustrated