City Hall and the Neighborhoods: A Street-Level View of Urban Problems.

by Douglas Yates

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Based on five months' field work as a participant-observer in one neighborhood on the Lower East Side of New York City, the author discusses his "street-level" reactions to urban problems in terms of (1) effect of government programs, (2) impact of street-level bureaucrats, (3) the local residents' adaptation to neighborhood life, and (4) response of neighborhood organizations to local problems. Several important facts emerge: Responsiveness and trust problems can only be solved at the street level with the cooperation and involvement of neighborhood residents. Neighborhood leaders and residents have important resources for problem-solving and collective action. Decentralization is not a panacea and in some forms may have negative consequences. Most important, citizen resources and energies remain a powerful but latent force at the street level and City Hall is doing little to build neighborhood democracy on that foundation. 9 pp.

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