Poverty and depressed estates: a critique of Utopia on trial.
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SPICKER, P., 1987. Poverty and depressed estates: a critique of Utopia on trial. Housing Studies, 2 (4), pp. 283-292.
Alice Coleman's Utopia on Trial explains the incidence of social problems in council housing in terms of the design of the estates. This paper offers an alternative explanation. Many issues which appear to be problems of planning, design, maintenance or administration are directly attributable to the lack of resources of the tenants. Poor people are concentrated in specific locations through the process of urban development, the effect of social choices, and their own lack of power to find alternatives. Many problems with their housing, like inadequate heating or lack of maintenance, depend directly on what the tenants can afford. The incidence of poverty, and the problems which arise from it, add in turn to the undesirability of the estates. Coleman's dismissal of the influence of poverty is based on an unsound method and an inadequate theoretical analysis. Her recommendations for policy are in consequence a diversion from the real needs and issues.