The Nation: Grass-Roots Management

Too often, public housing projects turn out to be much like low-income dwellings run by private absentee land lords: poorly maintained by owner and tenant alike. So it was in St. Louis, where the 33-building, $40 million Pruitt-Igoe project, intended two decades ago to be a model for the nation, now stands abandoned and partially demolished. Embarrassed by the fiasco, St. Louis housing officials are trying something new: turning the management of projects over to the tenants themselves.

The 9,000 residents — nearly all of them black and poor — of four of the city's largest public housing developments have been...

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