Trailblazers present a review of public housing
‘Celebrating our Dixie Court Roots’…..The Dixie Court Story
By Lillian E. Small
(Fifth of Series)
The reality of our dreams while living in Dixie Court, was to pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps as the saying goes. Though this happened and our dreams came true, we were and still are like the Sancofa, as we continually look back to share our dream with those who are still looking forward to a dream fulfillment of their own.
Looking back to the Dixie Court that continued after the 1960s and moving forward into the next three decades, it would be neglectful of us not to recognize the struggles of the residents who were caught up by political interventions which occurred more often during these decades than ever before. Public housing was being used as a political football, with little regard for the “human effect” by the powers that be.
The main concern was what was politically expedient. So much legislation had added and subtracted, how the housing needs would be serviced following the first Housing Act.
Social concerns were ad-dressed in the 1960s thereby creating an Executive Order 121063 for Equal Opportunity in Housing. The government was now making a major effort to combine the Civil Rights Act with housing. Whites were still not moving into Dixie Court like the Blacks were moving into the Kennedy Homes. This was the white counterpart of Dixie Court that was built at approximately the same time in 1940.
In 1965, here comes HUD. The Housing and Urban Development Act of 1965 was responsible for initiating a new leased housing program which made privately owned homes available to low income families. Then later, the Housing and Community Act of 1974 brought along Section 8 Leased Housing Assistance Payment Program. Then a wave of laws originated, were acted upon, and were, replaced by others.
HUD experienced some scandals in 1970s which were revisited in the 1980s. The scandal unveiled corrupt practices in some of their housing subsidy programs.
Housing now began to move away from supply based models towards subsidized private development.
Dixie Court maintained a steady flow of residents in spite of the Section 8 vouchers and other subsidies that were advanced during these thirty years. While the Section 8 vouchers seemed like a creative method for housing, they were usually given to single mothers. There was a tendency to move into a residence and not stay very long. This pattern of short termed residence still occurs and it impacts the stability of the children who move from school to school; many times several during one school term.
Dixie Court provided stability for their families, as well as for the children of these fami-lies. Though they were not privy to private back yards, and more up to date homes, theirs was an existence that brought satisfaction and promise of a one day home of their own. There was just something about the feeling of togetherness and home life that was all pervasive – even after these many years of existence.
Celebrating Dixie Court reminds us that, though most of us living today did not watch the brick-by-brick construction in the 1940s, we have seen the new Dixie Court rise to take its place. We lament the demise of the Old Dixie Court and are proud that we are the keeper of its memories.
Sixth and Last of Series: Capturing your memories and celebrating.
Don’t forget to pre-register for our free community event.
Pre-registration forms to attend are available at the Old Dillard Museum, the New Dixie Court and the African American Research Library.
Please return your applications without delay.