In this optimistic survey of inner city regeneration, von Hoffman provides lessons from efforts to raise these erstwhile neglected or forsworn neighborhoods throughout the U.S.: New York’s South Bronx; Boston’s Dorchester; Chicago’s South and West Sides; Atlanta’s East Lake, Old Fourth Ward, Reynoldstown, and Summerville; as well as Los Angeles’ Watts and South Central following the 1992 civil unrest. While acknowledging the problems of racial mistrust and gentrification in the city case studies (i.e. Chicago, Atlanta, LA), von Hoffman leaves them aside in his conclusion, focusing on the following lessons believing we should apply the cities’ community development lessons to the increasing-in-size suburban slums. Not only is the city, as one hundred years ago, an immigrant community, it is also being gentrified, becoming more like the European model.
To contend with the sub-, extra-, and urban slums, we need: (1) leaders, survivors, or urban pioneers, who set high standards for the community and bring constituencies; (2) organized alliances of local institutions that mobilize and coordinate action, sharing resources, ideas, and risks; (3) government buy-in and the requisite political and monetary support, but not a power grab; (4) money — tapping the “power of capitalism [has] the widest impact” (255); (5) strategic plans and realizable goals because large, abstract campaigns “fail, often loudly” (ibid); and (6) a willingness to persevere as setbacks are inevitable.