Brooklyn Matters & Utah’s Ten Year Plan, Case Study

Kelsey Holdway

Professor Martin

Reaction Paper #1


Brooklyn Matters & Utah’s Ten Year Plan

“Brooklyn Matters” was an important documentary showing how people with more money can have more power than those with less money. They are able to have more say in governmental decisions, while community members struggle to get a voice in an argument. This documentary gives a visual comparison for the case study about Utah’s homeless population and how community members and Utah are helping get homeless into permanent housing. With two different motives it is key to compare and contrast them and also look at both of them from a pluralist view.

The homeless population since 2004 has been on a decline due to a program called “Housing First”. This program was put in place by Lt. Governor Olene Walker, with the help of many other organizations. There are four main strategies to the Housing First Program rather than just putting the chronically homeless into houses. The first objective set in place by Utah’s Homeless Coordinating Committee is Affordable Housing, this goal helps “create additional low income permanent “Housing First” units for chronically homeless and affordable housing units for all homeless persons and families” (Utah’s Plan To End Chronic Homelessness And Reduce Overall Homelessness By 2014, 2008). Prevention and Discharge Planning helps plan for those who are about to become homeless whether it be from jail, shelters, or hospitals. Supportive Services are set into place to help get the homeless that have been placed in affordable housing a chance to start again through case managers and different types of therapy programs. The last objective is, Homeless Management Information, which enters all of the homeless placed into housing units and keeps track of them and their outcomes/success rates.

The documentary, “Brooklyn Matters”, highlighted a neighborhood (Atlantic Yards) that was being redeveloped through a Community Based Agreement (CBA). Ratner wanted to go into Brooklyn and build a nicer community filled with luxury homes and even a basketball arena. His plans were going to put many residents out because of the cost of housing. The lower income community was going to be run out because of the project so they started to fight back. Ratner came up with an affordable housing agreement stating that they would build “affordable housing” for persons displaced from the new project.

Looking at both resources there are similarities and differences. Utah’s and Ratner’s plan both put money into the state. Ratner’s project to build this new community and arena would bring in more revenue to the state through luxury housing and entertainment. Utah’s plan would save the state money by cutting the amount of ER/hospital visits and incarceration days/costs. Many cities have started the same program, such as Denver, which net cost saving equal to about $4,745 which could be used in other financial opportunities. Both projects want to help people and give growth to a city. However, Ratner is more commercialized and looking at it largely from a money point of view; Utah is trying to combat a larger problem of homelessness which actually saves the state money. Certain people in both Brooklyn and Utah wield influence, the community members who agree with the project will support it and not speak out. The members who do not support the project will speak out and demand a change. The differences include who the decision making power is. In Brooklyn, Ratner and corporate have most of the power, however, in Utah much of the power is in the hands of the state and community organizations willing to help.

A large difference in Utah vs Rater is that, in Utah the funding is from the state and local government, while in Brooklyn the funding was private. Making the funding private gives power to the people/corporation and lowers the amount of voice the community has. In Utah, since the funding is from the state there is more accountability. Community members would probably have a greater chance of getting their voices heard if state and local officials were involved rather than private individuals, because there is a higher power above them that can change the way the program works if need be. The largest difference that outlines the both projects is that Rater had selected officials while the program and Utah elects officials (State’s Homeless Coordinating Committee). Giving more power to the people provides better opportunity for success. The members of the community live there and know what some challenges are rather than an official being selected that has never lived in the neighborhoods. For example, one major problem with homelessness in Utah is the addiction to drugs and alcohol. One idea the organization came up with was to give the chronically homeless supportive services that gives the person the option of getting treatment for his/her addiction. Selected official might ignore the underlying problems of the homeless and just provide them with shelter as long as they pay the low rent.

Both Ratner and the State’s Homeless Coordinating Committee have the same goal; provide the community with a chance of improvement while growing the city. However, Ratner designed a plan that would hurt one area of the community that did not have the money to live anywhere else. Utah saw a growing problem and decided to combat it with a program that would not do harm to any member in the community living around the project. Looking from a pluralist view it could be decided that a pluralist would agree Utah’s Plan to End Chronic Homelessness, because the decisions in the organization are being made by engaged community members and elected officials. The people who want to be involved are working to help make a change. There is a great deal of potential power in the communities in Utah, people know about the high homeless population and might be able to give insight to the elected officials on how to approach the project. A pluralist would not agree with Ratner because the decisions are made by him and a group of wealthy individuals. The community had little to no power in the decisions when they wanted to make a change. In Brooklyn there seemed to be an equal amount of actual power and potential power, however, it was only in the hand of the selected committee.

Work Cited

Brooklyn Matters Video watched in class

Comprehensive Report On Homelessness. 1st ed. Salt Lake City: Utah Housing and Community Development Division State Community Services Office, 2014. Web. 29 Sept. 2015.

Utah’s Plan To End Chronic Homelessness And Reduce Overall Homelessness By 2014. 1st ed. Utah’s Homeless Coordinating Committee, 2008. Web. 29 Sept. 2015. (I’m having trouble getting the cited work to show up when you search it so I just added the link below.)

One thought on “Brooklyn Matters & Utah’s Ten Year Plan, Case Study

  • October 9, 2015 at 12:19 pm

    I did my reaction paper on something similar, but yours focused more specifically on housing. It was intriguing to link somewhere like Brooklyn, a booming city at one of the huge epicenters of the world, to somewhere like Utah, a much smaller and remote area. Therefore, I liked your boldly diverse selection of places, because you still managed to relate them to each other very successfully. This was a very well-writen and cohesive paper. Great job!

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