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Hi Guys,

Wanted to create a space to share some positive stories about urban development and change from the perspectives of the urban poor. Could be anything from land sharing to micro-finance to an art installation to resisting eviction to buildling a community toilet. Would love to hear about any positive stories from around the world!
 

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The Paris area had a few "slum" areas until a few decades ago. Three of the biggest where located in Nanterre in the west (very close to where La Défense area is now) in which lived mostly Algerian immigrants, in Champigny in the east, which was known as a Portuguese slum (bidonville) and in Noisy le Grand, also in the east, where the majority of the dwellers were white french people.


This is the Nanterre algerian slum west of Paris, the dome building behind it is right now in the middle of the La Défense area:


And this is what they were replaced with :



The bidonvilles de Nanterre was an area of historical importance during the war of Algerian independance - on the 17th of october 1961 Algerian protestors, many of whom lived in these Nanterre slums, peacefully protested against a curfew imposed by the Parisian police. The response by the police was very brutal and resulted in the biggest massacre within the city of Paris since WW2, with around 200 protestors killed.


This is a pic from the Noisy-le-Grand slum in the 50's, at it's beginings, right after the war.



Nonetheless, I'm not sure if we can talk of "success stories".... I think the world is more complex than a romantic fiction. A lot of the housing projects that were built to replace the slums were bad quality, and many of the problems reproduced themselves because of the conditions that produced poverty were never changed (employment precariety, discrimination etc.). Also sometimes "slum cleaning" operations are more destined towards outsiders to give a "better image" of the area rather than to better the living conditions of the people who live there - today still precarious housing still exists in Paris, but it is hidden, it is inside buildings or next to freeways.

But if you want "positive stories", or at least stories of tenant who resist promoters or gentrification you can try looking towards how people have been organizing in Marseilles for years against the "EuroMéditerranée" projet - and anyone calling these people "nimby" deserves to be punched in the face - but it's not really a "slum" area, more like an old working class central district. And these people resist, but they are fighting against people much stronger than them, only the crisis has helped them a bit because it has weakened gentrification and promoters.
 

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those pictures of paris are really cool and unexpected.

where did the people from manaus's slum go? did they build houses for them?
 
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every year thousands of chileans are moved to new houses by the goverment. but there are still some slums in the country. this program is pretty good because they people put some money and the goverment give them the rest to buy houses. are called subsidied houses. but the big difference with ohter countries is:
1 the poors make an effort (not for free)
2 the poors have something own (properties) and they can sold it in some time (i think 10 years but now the law is changing) so they can capitalize
3 isnt like some first world countries where the goverment owns that houses, here is private property.
4 the law now have been extended to some low-middle class so they also can have subsidies to buy better houses (and at the same time they sell theire houses to the poors). its called dinamyc subsidy.


...the principle of subsidies have been great for the housing in chile, but have been failing in other areas like education. that show you that some ideas cant be practiced with good end in all the markets (is not the same house market or education market). have been one of the best laws created by pinochet regime.
 

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My take on this is that only the former "slum" dwellers' opinions are legitimate on such issues. It is not up to us who don't live in these areas that were destroyed and rebuilt to say if it was a "good job" or not. Let's not forget also that in these - precariously built areas - people rely strongly on local solidarity networks and that often destruction and relocation means that the locals loose a lot of their "social capital" in the process.
 
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in chile the poors allways (or 99% of the cases) are happy even when the new houses are shit. because they have something own. i know its sad for a communist to hear that, but the property gives you not just happyness but also some kind of security about your future. they have something legally own so they can have banking credits (hipotecas) and have more money by that. is the way to civilize people who have been outside the society (marginals)
 

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^^ If that was directed at me, first of all I don't define myself as "communist" and - as far as I know - "communist" criticism of private property has never been about the property of people's own housing.

But as I said, neither you nor me have a legitimate opinion on this issue. We never had to go through it personnally so it's useless to act as if we knew everything (and saying that "the poor always are happy" doesn't change that).
 

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eklips said:
This is a pic from the Noisy-le-Grand slum in the 50's, at it's beginings, right after the war.
Interesting, I didn't know there was a slum at Noisy-le-Grand, unlike the Nanterre slum those hut-houses look like they are built to a standard design, was there some planned input into the building of the area? Presumably the commercial centre and big apartment blocks like the 'arenes de picasso' there now were built to replace this?

When thinking about slums in the UK the best-known examples were the insanitary and cramped working-class accomodation built speculatively by developers in the 19th century to accomodate the factory workers who migrated from rural areas and rapidly multiplied in the industrial cities.

These were steadily cleared through the 20th century and usually replaced with big concrete commieblock type buildings which are now themselves often being knocked down.

Like Eklips said, the change of housing often didn't eradicate the social problems in these areas as much else remained the same even though the housing was a bit better. Then when deindustrialisation began in the 1960s these areas of factory and dock workers bore the brunt of it and the neighbourhoods declined.
 

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^^ Yes but this pic was taken in the 50's right after the war when it was some sort of refugee camp. I don't know how it looked like a decade later.
 

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^^ I will come back to the subject of slums, eklips, but to call the Algerian terrorists "peaceful protesters" is to be very un-French!!! At least.

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Slums are irrecoverable places.

I'm against the idea of "making slums better".

A "successful story of a slum" is, therefore, on in which the substandard settlement was replaced by modern housing or any other up-to-date urban use. The original population might or might not live in the area after the slum was cleared.

I don't think the urban poor living in illegal settlements have much choice but to accept whatever the public authorities throw at them. They are illegally living in that place...

Now, there is the issue of merely impoverished, but legal, residential areas. I think they are distinct problems. So to the OP: what do you refer by "slums"? Because my answer vary greatly on the legality, formality and abeyance to urban codes of the buildings/area.
 

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I wouldn't consider simply demolishing a slum out completely and replacing the buildings with shinier newer ones and the old inhabitants with ones who have deeper pockets a "success story".

Anyway, best example I can think of in Australia would be Cabramatta in Sydney. Was a Vietnamese ghetto and a huge hub of the heroin trade. Gangs, street dealing and junkies populated the area. Now it's a decent area which has mostly cleaned up the rubbish of before while retaining its Vietnamese character.
 
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