Over 1,000 men, women and children living in 483 apartments â where did all those Central Park residents go?
Thatâs the central questions of last weekâs Urban Explorer. Using records obtained from the Tampa Housing Authority, I tracked down a handful of former tenants of the notorious housing project in downtown Tampa to see where they were living now.
The results? The vast majority of Central Park residents are now interspersed throughout the poorest neighborhoods of Tampa, including Sulphur Springs, âSuitcase Cityâ near USF and Ybor City.
Dr. Susan Greenbaum, USF professor of anthropology, is not surprised.
âIt wasnât a very broad pattern of dispersion,â says Greenbaum, who helped organize a graduate project a few years ago to assist the THA in developing a plan for relocating the residents. âIt was in the same places that people had been located to in the past.â
Back in the late 90s, Greenbaum studied the earlier public housing relocations of College Hill Homes and Ponce de Leon Courts.
âYou canât cure poverty by moving people aroundâ was her conclusion from that study, she says. âIn a lot of ways you make it more difficult for them.â
She notes the loss of âcommunal tiesâ and the hidden costs of moving.
âRemember the last time you moved and how much you enjoyed that?â she says. âMultiply that by 400 and suddenly take away all the resources that you had to buy new curtains and cleaning supplies.â
Interestingly, the handful of former Central Park residents I spoke with had few complaints about moving. In their words, any place was better than Central Park Village.
Actual housing may be better, Greenbaum acknowledges, but an improved quality of life is a much harder shift.
âItâs like going from terrible to bad,â she says.