High Rise: Poverty, Policing, and Crisis in American Public Housing

Date of Award

Spring 2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Anderson, Elijah


High Rise: Poverty, Policing, and Crisis in American Public Housing focuses on the Carter Houses, a high-rise public housing development in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. Employing ethnographic methods, High Rise explores the everyday experiences of residents as they navigate concerns surrounding safety, deteriorating building conditions, policing and incarceration, and cycles of poverty. High Rise argues that the social and built dimensions of particular housing contexts are central to understanding experiences of poverty and disadvantage and shape the social life of residents and their communities. The project begins with an overview and a descriptive picture of the Carter Houses within the context of the history of public housing in the United States. Chapter 2 explores the major challenges that residents of Carter experience as they navigate economic insecurity and chronic building neglect. Chapter 3 evaluates how the policing of Carter exacerbates existing disadvantage experienced by residents and the daily strategies that residents deploy to navigate persistent police presence and incarceration. Chapter 4 examines the realities of economic insecurity for residents and the ways they navigate poverty and housing disadvantage. The final chapter focuses on the strategies and challenges of residents seeking to foster safety and security in their everyday lives and housing environment. The project concludes with a discussion of the study’s policy implications on poverty, policing, and public housing.

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