District of Columbia Housing Authority Executive Director Adrianne Todman last week lectured scholars at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on the importance of public housing in society.

“Public Housing Did Not Fail – And the Role It Must Play in Interrupting Poverty” was the title of Todman’s lecture, which was part of the spring 2014 Malcolm Wiener Center Inequality and Social Policy Seminar Series. Todman was the only practitioner included in the spring series.

“It isn’t public housing that has failed,” Todman told the students. “What failed were the housing policies and funding formulas.”

The placement and composition of public housing communities also contribute to concentrations of poverty, Todman said. However, these policies and placement are not the only problem. Education, lack of low-skill, livable-wage jobs, and the absence of community amenities also lead to concentrated poverty in specific areas.

Todman proposed preserving existing affordable housing stock and making more services available to the residents will help to “unleash the people’s potential.”

Harvard’s Multidisciplinary Program in Inequality and Social Policy began in 1998 as a National Science Foundation Integrative Graduate Education and Research Training initiative to foster first- and second- year graduate students’ education and facilitate collaborative efforts between each other, according to the program’s website. The school provides classes, seminars, and other learning experiences for students who study inequality to work together and learn from each other and their varying personal and educational backgrounds.

Forty faculty members regularly provide seminars and classes for students. In addition, the seminar series Todman addressed features guest speakers who will challenge students’ thinking.

Todman was invited to speak by famous sociologist William Julius Wilson, the Lewis P. and Linda L. Geyser University Professor at Harvard University. He has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, the National Academy of Education and the Institute of Medicine. He is also past President of the American Sociological Association, and is a MacArthur Prize Fellow. In 1998 he was awarded the National Medal of Science. His books include Power, Racism and Privilege(1973), The Declining Significance of Race (1978), The Truly Disadvantaged (1987), When Work Disappears (1996), The Bridge over the Racial Divide (1999), There Goes the Neighborhood (2006, co-author), Good Kids from Bad Neighborhoods (2006, co-author), and, most recently, More than Just Race: Being Black and Poor in the Inner City (2009).

>DCHA Executive Director Adrianne Todman speaks to Harvard graduate students.
>DCHA Executive Director Adrianne Todman speaks to Harvard graduate students.
Last modified: 12/29/2014 4:27:33 PM