New public relations push for public housing

Here is a new public relations initiative for public housing:

A new public relations initiative called ReThink is trying to change those attitudes. Funded by Housing Authority Insurance, Inc., which provides insurance to public and affordable housing projects, ReThink aims to educate Americans about the benefits of public housing not only for the people who live in it, but for society as a whole.

Perceptions of public housing, according to research funded as part of the ReThink project, are a jumble of preconceptions and contradictory attitudes. Sixty-three percent of those surveyed say they would support public housing in their communities, but 53 percent don’t want to live close to it. Sixty-one percent believe that public housing has some positive impact on its residents, but nearly a third of respondents (31 percent) don’t think public housing residents are hard-working members of society…

Advocates, she says, need to educate “Joe Six-Pack” on how public housing should be one of those priorities for the nation’s cities, because it encourages stability and community among America’s neediest residents.

To that end, on ReThink’s website, you’ll find first-person stories from public-housing residents whose lives have been transformed by the availability of public housing. The highly produced two- to three-minute spots cut against the popular image of public housing residents as unemployed, directionless, and without ambition.

See the ReThink website with the videos here.

Sounds interesting but this is a tough sell for many Americans. It may be easier to convince people that public housing is needed for a small portion of American residents (currently less than 1% of the US population according to ReThink) but it becomes much harder to suggest some or more money should go toward it or that these public housing developments should be located anywhere near middle- and upper-class residents. The stigma is hard to overcome, even with positive stories today as well as positive stories of the past like featured in The Pruitt-Igoe Myth where past residents talked about what a beautiful place housing projects once were.

Also, ReThink doesn’t offer much on their website about what this public housing will look like. Are we talking mixed-income developments? Scattered-site housing? These details could go a long way toward the success or failure of a public relations push.

I am curious to see how people react to this…

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