The Community Renewal Program

PAS Report 157

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Information Report No. 157 April 1962

The Community Renewal Program

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1959 heralded few changes in urban renewal legislation. Capital grant outlays were raised for nonresidential renewal. Relocation payments were increased slightly for displaced families and businesses. The red tape involved in preparing and submitting applications for project funds was notably reduced. Most of these changes, however, merely elaborated on features already clearly established in the historic Housing Act of 1954.

By far the most significant innovation of the 1959 Housing Act, and one of the most important to occur in the brief span of urban renewal, was the authorization of the Community Renewal Program. The CRP is a tool of tremendous potential. Used intelligently by communities, it can have a profound bearing on the shape of future urban renewal, or for that matter, urban development activity.

Renewal proponents began early to recognize the need for long-range community renewal planning. Enough experience had been gained to realize the shortcomings of the traditional project-by-project approach to urban renewal. These projects neither meshed nor gave assurance that a comprehensive attack was being launched on urban blight. In fact, a strong feeling existed that renewal funds often were misused, sometimes creating more problems than they solved. Consequently, the idea of establishing a vehicle for a city-wide approach to renewal gained momentum among the leaders of the urban renewal movement.

During the legislative hearings on the proposed 1959 Housing Act, most of the discussion revolved around the bread-and-butter issues — the rationing of urban renewal funds, the size of the public housing authorization, the perplexing relocation problem. Few voices were raised either in support or opposition to the Community Renewal Program. Only three nongovernmental organizations, testifying in 1959 before the Senate Subcommittee on Housing of the Committee on Banking and Currency, mentioned the CRP aspect of the proposed legislation, each of them commenting favorably. The new program arrived without much fanfare.

After a slow start, interest in the Community Renewal Program picked up noticeably. As of May 1962, fifty-four communities had received CRP grants. Approximately eleven and a half million dollars of local and federal funds have been committed to Community Renewal Programs, less than one per cent of the total committed for all urban renewal projects. Nonetheless, this relatively small expenditure may become the seed for determining how future billions of dollars will be spent on urban renewal.

One thing clear today is that the CRP means different things to different people. Advocates see it in many hues. To some, it is the tool that will make community planning truly effective. To others, it will provide a grand design and strategy for reshaping and restructuring entire communities. Still others contend that the Community Renewal Program will force decisions on what should be done and will make sure that our cities are rebuilt the way we want them to be. Another prevalent opinion is that the program will form the bridge between renewal officials, fiscal planners, physical planners, and social policy planners. And finally, some feel that CRP will give continuity and status to local programs.

The important point is that the program has exciting possibilities. Whether or not it will become all that its advocates claim remains to be seen. At present, most localities are only in the early stages of their perspective programs. Much has to be done before any meaningful evaluation can be made.

Conceivably, the CRP might raise some controversial issues. For example, the solution to the relocation problem may ultimately hinge on how much the housing market throughout the city is opened to minority families; suburban programs to attract industry may have to be scaled down before central city industrial renewal efforts can succeed; the cost of getting rid of slums may necessitate a vastly greater expense than heretofore imagined. If responsible community leaders refuse to face up to these and other issues, the alternatives for the CRP are clear; either it will be adopted in watered-down form or will fail to see the light of day. "Under such circumstances," one observer notes, "the CRP could easily become a collection of studies and working papers in the files of the city urban renewal or planning agency."

How each Community Renewal Program will be used at the local level depends on many factors: the way it is organized, the acceptance and support it gains from local leaders, the soundness of its analyses, the reality and sense of its proposals, and the facility with which it can be set up on a permanent, continuing basis.

This report will explore the way the Community Renewal Program is taking shape. As background, the issues leading to its adoption will be discussed in more detail. The major portion of the report, however, is divided into three parts: 1) a discussion of the major characteristics of a Community Renewal Program as conceived by the Urban Renewal Administration; 2) a review of ongoing local Community Renewal Programs, from the standpoint of organization, cost, staffing, scope and content; and 3) a discussion of some important points that merit consideration in preparing and implementing local Community Renewal Programs.


The CRP was born in response to a variety of concerns, some growing out of a critical appraisal of urban renewal progress to date, others emerging from a dissatisfaction with certain administrative features of the urban renewal program.

Foremost was the tendency of cities to select renewal projects without much semblance of overall, guiding objectives or policies. "Projectitis" was a characteristic disease of early renewal efforts. The natural tendency was to tackle the easiest and most attractive renewal projects. One might be an area in which the street department intended to make major improvements; thus the city could get a sizeable non-cash credit and thereby considerably reduce its actual cash outlay. Another might be attractive because a private developer expressed strong interest in redeveloping the cleared site for a high-rental housing project. Still another slum site might be chosen because it would not upset the delicate racial balance in the community, yet still pacify the housers and social welfare people. Individually, each project might have merit; collectively, they comprised a patchwork attack on the central problem of blight prevention and elimination.

Moreover, these priority projects sometimes backfired, leading to further imbalances. The original interest of the private developer, for example, might wan and the cleared site remain vacant for years or the area adjacent to the slum clearance project might be downgraded as relocated families crowded into it.

In commenting on "projectitis," one expert writes:

The point is not that these undertakings are wrong, but that they are not enough. As steps in a complete and balanced urban renewal program, they are quite all right, and they have important results and beneficial side effects; in the absence of an overall program, however, they may mean little in terms of progress toward urban renewal objectives. (Curry, p. 361)

The need for a more thorough understanding of the extent of blight as a backdrop for renewal policy was recognized early by a few cities. Philadelphia, for example, prepared a Central Urban Renewal Area study in 1956, identifying the degree of residential blight in the older part of the city and setting forth alternate strategies for urban renewal action. In 1955, Detroit formulated a ten-year program for conserving its extensive middle-aged neighborhoods, basing it on a survey and rating of the city's 13,000 residential blocks.

The first clear federal recognition of the need for a broader policy framework came in 1954 with the adoption of the Workable Program concept. In effect, before a city could receive federal funds it was required to show evidence that it was performing complementary public and private activities to bolster and reinforce its renewal program. The comprehensive plan and the detailed neighborhood analysis requirements of the Workable Program, especially, focused attention on this need.

With the adoption of the General Neighborhood Renewal Plan provision in the 1956 Housing Act, a further step was taken towards launching a full-fledged community-wide renewal program. GNRP was designed to facilitate planning for urban renewal areas of such scope that renewal activities would have to be carried out in stages over a period of about ten years.

One other important federal action preceding formal adoption of the CRP was to underwrite the cost of preparing a few prototype comprehensive renewal programs. The most impressive effort was recently completed in Newark, which had been given a demonstration grant in 1958 to formulate a continuing ten-year program for city renewal. The final report, Re: new Newark, is particularly germane to CRP communities because it covers many of the standard CRP work items — delineating renewal areas, determining industrial renewal potential, defining renewal priorities, and programming relocation activity. The evolution into the Community Renewal Program was, therefore, a natural step following the Workable Program, GNRP, and Demonstration Grant precedents.

Other factors contributing to the adoption of the CRP were enumerated by William Wheaton in a speech at a conference on the Community Renewal Program in May 1961. (Community Renewal Program Roundtable, p. 6)

  1. A widespread recognition that cities faced important needs for industrial and commercial renewal, but a corresponding look of any estimate of the magnitude of such needs or their ultimate importance.
  2. A concern over the magnitude and form of local matching grant requirements, leading to a belief that a larger area accounting system could solve local capital problems if public works could be scheduled to coincide roughly with renewal action.
  3. A sharp criticism of relocation procedures.
  4. A growing concern for the problems of priority in renewal — how much renewal should be in the form of conservation, rehabilitation, and clearance, which projects should come first, and what might be the consequences of alternative strategies.

But the clinching argument for the CRP was triggered by federal action to ration capital grant funds for renewal in the face of an unabated growth of urban renewal activity. Renewal advocates felt it imperative that some estimate of the national need for renewal assistance be devised to forestall constant bickerings over the size of grant authorizations.

In its analysis of the Community Renewal Program proposal in 1959, representatives of the Housing and Home Finance Agency argued that:

... a number of such programs taken in the aggregate would constitute a basis for defining more accurately the national need for urban renewal, and fill the need for data on which both the Congress and the Housing Agency could base long-range determinations as to the size and nature of the federal program. At present, there exists no adequate information on which to base such determinations. (U.S. Senate, pp. 64–65)

This was a reason not so much for the CRP itself as for its acceptance at that particular time.


As defined in the 1959 Housing Act, the CRP was treated only in bare outline. The salient points covered were:

  1. A brief statement of what a CRP could include: identification of blighted areas in the community; measurement of blight within such areas; determination of resources needed and available to renew such areas; identification of potential project areas and contemplated renewal actions within such areas; and programing of renewal activities.
  2. A set of requirements applying to federal and local actions: the CRP should conform to the locality's general plan; before a contract could be made, the local governing body must approve the CRP application; the grant could be given to a single local body authorized to prepare the CRP; the federal grant cannot exceed two-thirds of the CRP cost.

Subsequently, the Urban Renewal Administration issued two policy statements enlarging upon the scope and content of such programs. The first one, prepared in early 1960, was the guide for approximately half of the currently operative Community Renewal Programs. Following considerable internal discussion, URA issued a second policy directive in October 1961 — Local Public Agency Letter No. 227 — which contains a much more specific and expanded statement of CRP policies.

Undoubtedly, as the CRP evolves and the results of local programs are evaluated, further policy revisions will be forthcoming; in turn, the character of future local Community Renewal Programs will be shaped. To better understand current CRP activity, however, it is useful to review the concepts underlying the URA policy statements, especially the latest, LPA Letter No. 227.

Essentially, this directive highlights four major attributes of a Community Renewal Program: 1) that it be comprehensive in coverage; 2) that it be coordinated with related local activities; 3) that it be programmed realistically over time and space; and 4) that it be a continuous operation, periodically revised and updated.


A CRP is intended to be fully comprehensive in coverage. Its focus is the total community, the analyses called for incorporating that area and, in some instances, the whole metropolitan area. LPA Letter No. 227 is quite explicit in this regard. It calls for communities: 1) to identify all deteriorating, blighted or slum areas, both residential and nonresidential; and 2) to undertake city-wide or metropolitan-wide studies relating to economic and market factors affecting renewal.

Although primarily concerned with public action, federal CRP policy places considerable importance as well on the private sector. There is a clear recognition that the success of a city-wide renewal program depends to a great extent on how effectively private resources can be mobilized and interrelated with those of local government. LPA Letter No. 227 calls for "a continuing action program in dimensions of time, money, and public and private activities." (Emphasis added by author.) Further recognition of the importance of the private sector is highlighted in the stress on citizen participation and market studies to determine the extent of private interest in potential renewal sites.

Another sign of the breadth of the program is the concern for evaluating local resources for urban renewal action. In the past, cities often had a better understanding of the extent of blight than they had of their financial, administrative and legal capacities to deal effectively with the problem. The CRP will definitely furnish more pertinent information on the need for renewal action balanced against the availability of resources to take action. Added to this is the emphasis on careful measurement of available housing resources to meet relocation needs generated by renewal activity.

Other evidence of the comprehensiveness of CRP is the requirement that localities "take into consideration activities which may be undertaken both with or without federal assistance." This follows closely the Workable Program objective of inducing localities to carry out supplementary local activities — code enforcement, administrative reorganization, ordinance revision, and the like.

One other feature deserves mention. No longer will blight be analyzed merely in physical terms. The CRP provides an entry to a fuller understanding of the problem by encouraging communities to study its socio-economic manifestations.


The statement of CRP policy says that the program "shall also be related to and coordinated with the locality's general plan and Workable Program for Community Improvement, its over-all programs for capital improvements, its prospects for new development, and major highway programs."

With these elements incorporated, the CRP can become a mirror of community development intentions. Moreover, by absorbing relevant portions of the general plan, the CRP becomes one of the most important of many programs that may be utilized in carrying out the plan. It can provide the means of attaining planning objectives on a scale not otherwise possible.

One other aspect of coordination deserves mention. Renewal planning has been characterized from the start by coordinated planning within project boundaries. Park, school and street improvements were tied into major proposals for residential re-use. As such, renewal projects could be said to be products of integrated action among the renewal agency, the street department, the park department, the school board and other local agencies. But, as more and more projects were selected, there was a general failure to view them as they related to one another or to their surrounding environs. Project A in the southwest part of the city was a separate entity from Project B in the northeast, and both in turn were separate from Project C adjacent to the downtown area. Yet each one of these projects created relocation problems, caused population shifts in the surrounding areas, affected the funds available for capital improvements throughout the city, and by their success or failure influenced the course of future renewal activity. The unique contribution the Community Renewal Program makes is to view these projects in the light of how they relate to one another as well as to their bearing on city-wide renewal objectives. Thus, the dimension of coordination among renewal projects will be added to the dimension of coordination within renewal projects. A useful analogy is that the CRP relates to traditional project-by-project renewal planning as metropolitan planning relates to the planning of a single community within the metropolitan area.


The newness of the Community Renewal Program precludes any real determination of how it will work. On paper, though, there is a strong likelihood that many of its proposals will come to fruition.

Why the optimism? More than any single factor, it stems from the design of the CRP. The ultimate goal of the studies of blight, the investigations of community resources to undertake renewal activity, and the analysis of economic and market forces that shape community growth is to formulate a program of action. As conceived, this action program will be realistically feasible and phased over time. Ideally then, the Community Renewal Program will have practicality and immediacy.

The contrast between the general plan and the Community Renewal Program is pertinent in understanding this point. Too often in the past, an intelligently prepared and soundly conceived general plan has been bypassed by community leaders in making development decisions. Essentially, there was too much emphasis on the "what" and the "where" and too little emphasis on the "how," and the "when," and "in what order." The success of the general plan effort depends on its translation into implementing devices — the zoning ordinance, subdivision regulations, the capital improvement program — and its acceptance by government and the private sector. Often, the general plan balances needs against resources, but lacks any detailed schedule of actions to put proposals into effect. Perhaps there is value enough in leaving it rather broad and flexible. But the Community Renewal Program fuses into a single operation a series of steps, proceeding from a general statement of requirements through an evaluation of resources to the end product of detailed, programmed action. Because it goes one step further and spells out the actions that should be taken, it provides a better handle to grasp.

The question may well be asked: why shouldn't the general plan include a detailed schedule of actions to be taken? Apart from comprising a statement of long-range development intentions which are subject to modification as conditions change, the general plan could easily incorporate more programmed action. Further discussion of the relationship between the CRP and the general plan, elaborating on this point, can be found on p. 20.

Although not explicitly stated, federal policy urges localities to prepare realistic programs, capable of being achieved. The key to this lies in the firm insistence on studies and analyses to determine the locality's resources and capacities for renewal action.

Numerous examples can be cited of renewal projects that failed because they were unrealistic to begin with — the vast clearance project lying vacant and fallow for years because no developer could be found, the small hole-in-the-slum project impinged on all sides by expanding blight, the conservation area still going downhill because of a weak code enforcement program. One of the principal aims of the Community Renewal Program is to make certain that such projects never reach the drawing board.

Realistic programming is fostered under CRP policy by strongly urging communities to determine the following:

  1. The impact of estimated community growth on the demand for land development and its significance for the market of cleared land in renewal areas.
  2. The public costs of renewal action and the fiscal consequences — public borrowing, debt limits, changes in tax revenues — which will affect the rate at which the locality will be able to carry out urban renewal.
  3. The magnitude of relocation created by proposed renewal action and the ability of the market to satisfactorily accommodate displaced families and businesses.
  4. The adequacy of legal tools and administrative organization to take effective renewal action.
  5. The capacity of citizen groups to undertake supplementary action in support of renewal programs.

The CRP is also intended to provide a strategy for renewal action. To be meaningful, it must be broken down into public and private actions that should be undertaken at different points in time. The stress on scheduling activity over time is clear in the URA policy statement, as it calls for translating all the analyses and studies "into a time-phased program for interrelated public and private action." (Emphasis added by author.)

If one locality, for example, is weak financially, has few housing vacancies and a history of population stability in many of its slum areas, than large-scale residential clearance during the first few years of the CRP would be unwise and unwarranted. Major clearance activity may be scheduled several years later when prospects of a more favorable tax structure and more housing vacancies in the price range of tenants to be displaced by renewal action are foreseeable.

Another community may place a high priority on conservation efforts. Before committing renewal funds, however, it may have to schedule a series of non-federally aided activities to set the stage for success — strengthening neighborhood organizations, revamping its code enforcement program, and scheduling capital improvements to coincide with actual renewal project work five years hence.

These examples are contrived to illustrate that scheduling renewal activity over time is a highly involved and complex undertaking. It requires a clear statement of development objectives as well as detailed knowledge of the extent of the problem, the availability of resources, and the required actions that must precede other actions to achieve maximum success for the renewal program. No two communities will phase their programs in the same way even though they may share the ultimate objective of a balanced renewal program.


The drafters of CRP policy were aware of the temptation for communities to consider the program finished with the expiration of the contract. Thus, the CRP has been defined and visualized as a process rather than a product. LPA Letter No. 227 states sharply:

The Community Renewal Program must be designed so that it can be maintained and kept current, rather than undertaken as a single, one-time operation. ... Regular and routine activities for keeping the Community Renewal Program up-to-date are a local responsibility.

Obviously, changing conditions and circumstances will necessitate readjustments in the local CRP. Any process based on predicting economic, social and political behavior will have this characteristic. The difficulty will be to set up the program in such a way that it can be maintained and kept current in the light of changing conditions, actions taken, and experience gained.

On this point, the Urban Renewal Administration urges localities to develop initial data in a form susceptible to "ready revision, updating, and reprocessing." Already, several communities have proposed interesting approaches to establishing the CRP on a continuous basis. A few will utilize sophisticated operations research techniques as a built-in method for continual review and adjustment. Others have budgeted funds to use electronic data processing equipment to record information to keep the program up-to-date.

Expanding on the need for continuity in the CRP, William Wheaton proposed the development of eight interrelated activity schedules to be revised every few years in the light of actions taken each year. The first three schedules would show the existing conditions, the changes that were occurring, and a balance sheet based on these changes relative to population, structures and land use. The fourth and fifth schedules would show what public and private investments were required, based upon the rates of changes described by the first three schedules. The sixth schedule would show the fiscal consequences of actions taken — tax rate changes, debt payment requirements. And the seventh and eighth schedules would show the administrative and legislative actions needed in each period to implement the changes in the preceding categories. (For a fuller discussion, see Community Renewal Program Roundtable, pp. 8–9.)


A year ago, federal officials were quite concerned about the paucity of interest in the Community Renewal Program. Only 22 communities had CRP grants, close to half of these having no renewal projects underway. The sluggish reaction was attributed to several factors: initial confusion over the nature of CRP, difficulty in deciding which local agency should do the job, the costs involved, and the complexity of the assignment itself.

Today, however, the flood gates have opened. Fifty-four communities were in the program as of May 1962, with applications pending for an additional 30. No longer is the problem to induce interest; essentially it is to make certain that local programs are soundly conceived and in general conformity with federal policy.

Greatest activity is centered in the East, Midwest, and Southwest. These three regions account for over nine-tenths of the total active Community Renewal Programs (see Table 1). Close to one out of three cities over 250,000 now have embarked on such programs; for cities over 100,000, the figure is one out of five (see Table 2).

Table 1. Approved Community Renewal Programs by HHFA Region, May 1962

Region Number of Communities Percentage by Region
I (Conn., Maine, Mass., N.H., N.Y., R.I., Vermont) 11 20
II (Del., Md., N.J., Pa., Virginia, W. Virginia) 11 20
III (Ala., Fla., Ga., Ky., Miss., N.C., S.C., Tenn.) 2 3
IV (Ill., Ind., Iowa, Mich., Minn., Neb., N.D., Ohio, S.D., Wisc.) 15 28
V (Arkansas, Colo., Kan., La., Mo., New Mex., Okla., Tex.) 12 23
VI (Alaska, Ariz., Cal., Kan., Idaho, Mont., Nev., Ore., Utah, Wash., Wyo.) 2 3
VII (Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands) 1 2
Total 54 99

The typical CRP community is not a newcomer to the urban renewal field. It has several projects underway and more than likely has completed studies that will be useful in the preparation of its CRP. If it has no finished general plan, it is probably in the process of completing one. The smaller the community, however, the more limited is its past planning and renewal experience.

Several communities report slow progress. Some have found it difficult to hire qualified staff to run the program. Others report snags because contributory personnel from local agencies are not always available when needed. One CRP project director from a medium-sized city had this to say:

Much of our efforts in the survey and analysis phases has been of an exploratory nature, oriented towards getting the most out of available data. It is very easy to get sidetracked by the surplus of information and by the intriguing possibilities of all sorts of correlative studies. We also found it difficult to prepare a detailed methodology for each successive phase prior to actual work in that particular phase. Preliminary approaches are revised continuously upon evaluation of the results obtained. This is perhaps the best approach, but time-consuming.

In this section, a closer look will be given to Community Renewal Programs now underway. Several characteristics will be reviewed, including length of contract, cost, agency responsibilities, staffing arrangements, the role of private consultants, and unique program features.

Table 2. Approved Community Renewal Programs by City Size, May 1962

Population Group Number of Cities CRP Cities as a Percentage of Total Cities
1,000,000 and over 4 80
500,000–999,999 3 25
250,000–499,999 10 33
100,000–249,999 13 18
50,000–99,999 11 5
25,000–49,999 6 1
under 25,000 7 -
Total 54  

Length of Contract

The average length of a CRP contract is about a year and a half, with the period definitely varying by size of community (see Table 3). Large cities like New York, Chicago, Detroit and Minneapolis have contracts extending over a three-year period. For some cities under 50,000, the contract period only runs from six to nine months.

Undoubtedly, the wide variations indicate that local Community Renewal Programs differ considerably in scope and complexity. Some observers believe that the job is difficult enough to warrant at least a year and a half to get the program solidly launched.

URA contemplates authorizing additional grants to supplement new activities necessary to eliminate gaps and deficiencies which appear after the initial program is developed. A few communities that received grants before the CRP philosophy was broadened along the lines of LPA Letter No. 227 have received additional grants for an extended period subsequent to the issuance of the new policy statement. Denver, for example, started with a small program costing $78,000, extending over an 18-month period. A second contract signed in June 1962 will increase the authorization considerably and lengthen the program to run an additional 20 months. Tulsa is another community that extended its program to comply with the revised CRP policy. The original contract was to last 12 months, but has now been revised to extend over 30 months — the major reason for the change being an elaborate economic study of regional linkages and impacts.

One thing for certain, the programs now underway comprise only the first stage of the operation. The necessity to establish CRPs on a continuous basis will require localities to give serious thought to funding their respective programs once the federal contract terminates, even if additional federal funds are forthcoming.


As of May 1962, $11,580,000 has been committed to Community Renewal Programs, approximately two-thirds coming from the federal government and one-third from local governments. Table 3 contains a complete breakdown of CRP cost by community.

Table 3. Selected Characteristics of Community Renewal Programs by City, May 1962

City Population Contract Length (months) Total Program Cost ($) Percentage of Total Cost for Private Consulting Responsible Agency
New York 7,781,984 36 2,250,000 451 Planning
Chicago 3,550,404 36 1,500,000 26 Other2
Philadelphia 2,003,000 30 903,000 22 Renewal
Detroit 1,670,000 36 1,347,495 17 Planning
Milwaukee 741,000 24 330,000 42 Other3
Pittsburgh 604,332 24 300,000 23 Planning
Buffalo 533,000 18 121,981 40 Renewal
Denver 493,887 36 328,539 25 Renewal
Minneapolis 482,872 36 760,183 7 Planning
San Juan 432,377 18 189,000 26 Renewal
Newark 405,000 24 150,000 501 Renewal
Ft. Worth 356,000 24 134,700 61 Planning
Rochester 319,000 18 220,000 42 Other4
Akron 290,351 12 110,062 46 Planning
Dayton 262,000 18 112,614 40 Planning
Tulsa 261,685 30 105,000 53 Planning
Wichita 254,698 18 66,525 35 Planning
Oklahoma City 243,500 18 111,000 27 Planning
Richmond 220,000 12 90,000 50 Other5
Syracuse 216,038 18 129,840 25 Other6
Providence 207,498 18 277,073 73 Renewal
Worcester 187,000 20 200,000 45 Renewal
Austin 187,000 20 49,485 20 Planning
Spokane 181,608 18 116,319 21 Planning
Hartford 162,000 18 221,420 38 Planning
Ft. Wayne 161,776 14 50,503 45 Renewal
New Haven 152,058 18 371,000 39 Renewal
Trenton 114,167 12 37,250 0 Planning
Canton 113,631 12 24,488 8 Planning
Scranton 111,000 18 55,000 82 Renewal
Newton 92,000 18 97,500 20 Other7
Stockton 86,321 12 20,619 5 Planning
Springfield 82,723 12 67,390 66 Renewal
St. Joseph 80,000 15 59,730 63 Planning
Woodbridge 78,846 8 40,090 80 Renewal
Hamilton 72,000 18 92,045 58 Planning
Chester 63,658 15 15,000 100 Planning
N. Little Rock 58,032 15 34,875 62 Renewal
Waukegan 56,000 6 17,400 63 Renewal
Lima 51,000 9 86,575 52 Renewal
Aurora 48,548 9 21,840 85 Planning
Woonsocket 47,000 12 73,700 60 Planning
Norwich 39,000 24 53,748 17 Planning
Garden City 38,017 12 39,059 55 Renewal
Lebanon 30,000 12 24,000 96 Renewal
Pottstown 26,000 15 12,000 100 Planning
Stillwater 24,000 14 42,360 80 Renewal
Muskegon Hts. 20,000 12 39,408 45 Renewal
Benton Harbor 19,000 9 18,300 70 Planning
McAlister 17,000 12 29,556 37 Other8
Jasper 11,000 6 15,000 77 Renewal
Ozark 9,534 6 8,914 72 Renewal
Crystal City 9,101 7 11,400 70 Renewal
  1. Percentages are approximate; exact percentages were unavailable.
  2. Separate CRP staff responsible to the Mayor.
  3. Department of City Development.
  4. Planning Agency and Rehabilitation Commission.
  5. Four-agency administrative board.
  6. Department of Urban Improvement and Planning Agency.
  7. Office of Mayor.
  8. State Department of Commerce and Industry.

The bulk of this total, however, is being spent by a handful of large cities. Together, the five cities of New York, Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia and Minneapolis account for 60 per cent of the committed CRP funds. Leaving out these five cities, the average cost to do a CRP amounts to roughly $90,000.

A sizeable part of the city's share of costs for the preparation of the CRP is in the form of donated services — usually the staff time of local agency personnel — with the remainder coming in cash. As many as five or six agencies may contribute staff services to cover local costs.

A more revealing index of the extent to which a community is making a major commitment to its Community Renewal Program is the per capita cost of the program (see Table 4). Discounting smaller communities, which obviously would show higher per capita costs, the larger cities that rank high are: New Haven, Minneapolis, Hartford, Providence, Detroit, Rochester, Denver and Spokane.

Responsibility for the CRP

Two interesting points are highlighted in analyzing the way local responsibility is delegated for the CRP: 1) over-all, responsibility is about evenly divided between planning and renewal agencies, although in the larger cities more planning agencies have been assigned responsibility for the program; 2) the organization of many CRPs reflects a trend towards making renewal a highly integrated function of local government.

The CRP has created some intralocal dissension, principally between the planning agency and renewal agency. In several cities, before the program could start, a decision had to be made as to which agency would get chief responsibility for its administration. In earlier years, responsibility was more clearcut; comprehensive planning was handled by the planning agency and project planning by the renewal agency. The CRP, however, was considered a bridge between long-range planning and development operations. Because it overlapped established agency programs, it became subject to considerable administrative infighting.

Table 4. Community Renewal Program Cost Per Capita by Ranked City, May 1962

City Per Capita Cost City Per Capita Cost
1. NEW HAVEN, Conn.* $2.40 28. Scranton, Pa. $0.50
2. Muskegon Hts., Mich. 1.97 29. Woodbridge. N.J. .50
3. Stillwater, Okla. 1.77 30. PITTSBURGH, Pa. .49
4. McAlester, Okla. 1.74 31. Pottstown, Pa. .46
5. Lima, Ohio 1.70 32. PHILADELPHIA, Pa. .45
6. MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. 1.57 33. OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. .45
7. Woonsocket, R.I. 1.57 34. MILWAUKEE, Wisc. .45
8. Norwich, Conn. 1.38 35. SAN JUAN, P.R. .44
9. HARTFORD, Conn. 1.37 36. Aurora, Colo. .43
10. Jasper, Ala. 1.36 37. DAYTON, Ohio .43
11. PROVIDENCE, R.I. 1.33 38. CHICAGO, Ill. .42
12. Hamilton, Ohio 1.28 39. RICHMOND, Va. .41
13. Benton Harbor, Mich. 1.28 40. TULSA, Okla. .40
14. Crystal City, Tex. 1.25 41. AKRON, Ohio .38
15. Worcester, Mass. 1.07 42. FT. WORTH, Tex. .38
16. Newton, Mass. 1.06 43. NEWARK, N.J. .37
17. Garden City, Mich. 1.00 44. TRENTON, N.J. .33
18. Ozark, Ala. .93 45. FT. WAYNE, Ind. .31
19. DETROIT, Mich. .81 46. Waukegan, Ill. .31
20. Springfield, Ohio .81 47. NEW YORK, N.Y. .29
21. Lebanon, Pa. .80 48. WICHITA, Kans. .26
22. St. Joseph, Mo. .75 49. AUSTIN, Tex. .26
23. ROCHESTER, N.Y. .75 50. Chester, Pa. .24
24. DENVER, Colo. .69 51. BUFFALO, N.Y. .23
25. SPOKANE, Wash. .64 52. Canton, Ohio .23
26. N. Little Rock, Ark. .60 53. Stockton, Cal. .23
27. SYRACUSE, N.Y. .59    

*Cities in capitals are over 150,000 in population.

Table 3 lists the agency authorized to administer and coordinate the CRP for each locality. In some instances, there is joint responsibility. The Syracuse CRP, for example, is under the joint sponsorship of the Department of Urban Improvement and the City Planning Department. Perhaps the most extensive arrangement is in Richmond, Virginia, where four agency heads representing the Redevelopment and Housing Authority, the City Planning Commission, the Department of Public Health and the Department of Public Works sit as a Control Board to administer the CRP.

Based on available data, planning agencies now administer 45 per cent of the programs and renewal agencies 38 per cent, with the remaining 17 per cent administered either under a joint agency arrangement, directly by the mayor, or by a department of urban development. In a few cases, even though the renewal agency is designated the local public body, the major portion of the CRP will be prepared under contract by the planning agency.

Urban renewal requires a concert of actions by many public and private groups. In recognition of this need, a number of cities plan to utilize personnel from several operating agencies on the CRP, while still designating one agency to do the coordinating job. The theory is: the greater the direct involvement by local government in the CRP, the greater will be local understanding, backing and support for future renewal efforts.

Newton, Massachusetts, a town of 90,000, provides a good case in point. At various stages in its CRP, the city plans to employ an array of local talents, including inspectors from the health, building and fire departments, as well as personnel from the assessors, school, library, public works, accounting, legal and recreation agencies. Philadelphia, Detroit, Muskegon Heights, Michigan, Lima, Ohio, and Hamilton, Ohio are other cities making more extensive use of existing staff from other agencies. The Philadelphia CRP reflects a high degree of interagency cooperation, with more than 10 city agencies involved in one or another type of renewal programming.


The advent of the Community Renewal Program has created a further tightening of an already tight labor market. As cities began to recruit personnel to staff their programs, many discovered that there just were not enough trained planners and renewal personnel to be had. Because of this, some communities were forced to make major changes.

A number of cities hired private consultants to fill the void. One planning director said: "You might note that originally our program was set up to be done exclusively by city staff personnel; however, due to the difficulty in obtaining competent personnel or for that matter any personnel, we revised the budget to provide for a contract with a planning consultant firm."

Others delayed starting their program in hopes of eventually attracting personnel. Some of these cities were put in the embarrassing position of having federal CRP funds, but not the staff with which to undertake the program. Still other communities increased their reliance on contributory personnel from other city agencies to forestall delays.

Approximately 200 new professional-level jobs have been created by CRP demand. Within a year, this figure is likely to double as more and more communities embark on programs. In 1960, before local CRPs got underway, more than 250 jobs advertised in ASPO Jobs in Planning went unfilled. With Community Renewal Programs competing directly for personnel needed to staff ongoing planning and renewal operations, the personnel problem undoubtedly will be aggravated further before it is resolved. If Community Renewal Programs are to become continuous operations, some serious thought will have to be given to augmenting the supply of qualified staff to run such programs.

Consulting Services

A healthy portion of almost every Community Renewal Program is farmed out to private consultants. In small cities under 50,000, an average of two-thirds of the total program cost goes for consultant services (see Table 5). Even in the largest cities — 500,000 and over — the consultant fee amounts to an average of one-third of the total CRP budget. (For individual city figures, see Table 3.)

Table 5. Private Consulting Services as a Percentage of Total CRP Cost by Population Group, May 1962

Population Group Number of CRP Communities Percentage of Total Cost for Private Consulting Services
500,000 and over 7 31
250,000–499,999 10 38
100,000–249,999 13 36
50,000–99,999 10 57
under 50,000 13 66

The tendency to rely heavily on private consultants is attributable to several factors. Already mentioned was the recruitment problem. Anticipating this difficulty, a number of cities — especially the smaller ones — sidestepped the problem completely by hiring private planning consultants to do the bulk of the analyses and programming.

Another important reason for depending on consultants is because they are able to supply knowledge on technical matters — market analysis, economic studies, data processing techniques — beyond the experience or competence of the study staff. Almost every community is using consultants on highly specialized phases such as economic and market studies.

Moreover, consultants can serve often as a pool of manpower to supplement the core staff as needed. One community, for example, intends to call on experts in certain specialized fields on a per diem basis to broaden the factual base and the interpretation of facts during certain key phases of the program.

The Chicago Community Renewal Program provides a good example of the range of outside talents being employed. Although the central staff will expand to a peak of 38 employees over the three-year period, 13 different studies are scheduled to be done by private consultants. Some of the consulting services to be performed are: a housing market analysis, industrial and commercial obsolescence studies, special tabulations of 1960 census data, an institutional needs study, a retail trade center analysis, development of city-wide nonrenewal project techniques, special analyses of existing legislation, and studies of the financial feasibility of potential renewal projects.

Scope and Content

On the whole, CRP applications submitted to the federal government for funds resemble one another in form. The typical proposal usually incorporates the work items listed in the latest URA policy statement. Current programs, for example, propose something along the following lines:

  1. Studies of economic and market forces that affect the city's capacity for growth, especially in terms of housing and the demand for land.
  2. Identification and measurement of the total need for residential and nonresidential renewal action.
  3. Relating these needs to the total resources — financial, relocation, administrative and legal — now or likely to become available.
  4. Development of a long-range program for upgrading the city's blighted and deteriorating areas.

The most interesting and comprehensive programs, however, are those covering the CRP requirements for scope and content while at the same time not hesitating to adapt and supplement them to meet local needs and opportunities.

The following features, among others, may be found in such programs:

  1. Studies designed to evaluate past renewal accomplishments and failures as a backdrop for determining future renewal activity.
  2. A strong emphasis on establishing active citizen groups to participate in formulating local CRP policy.
  3. An organizational structure designed to take advantage of a wide array of local government personnel.
  4. Studies that cover special problems unique to the community: areas likely to be annexed, blighted areas of extremely doubtful re-use value, areas with excellent rehabilitation potential, and so on.

Based on a review of a number of available CRP applications, those programs that appear to contain a more individual approach are Chicago, Detroit, Hartford, Minneapolis, New Haven, New York, Philadelphia, Providence, Syracuse, Spokane and Tulsa. This listing, however, is based on stated intentions rather than actual performance.

One other aspect of the program deserves comment. Through the CRP, several communities are undertaking pioneering studies, unique in concept, that will add considerably to our knowledge of the urban environment. One such area is urban design. Studies are being undertaken in New Haven, Detroit, Syracuse and Minneapolis which will result in a better understanding of the visual organization of the community — design qualities of different neighborhoods, texture and color features, and visual impressions from major thoroughfares. In turn, these analyses will provide the basis for policy related to improving the attractiveness and liveability of residential neighborhoods on a city-wide basis.

Many CRPs will also break new ground in understanding the functional as well as economic and physical causes of industrial and commercial blight, a subject which has received limited attention up to now.

The most important contribution, though, may come from a few cities — Detroit and Pittsburgh, to name two — contemplating the development of highly sophisticated models to more readily comprehend the dynamics of urban change and their implications for renewal action. Information on economic and physical changes will be continuously accumulated and evaluated, with results being fed back to make CRP a more flexible and adaptable instrument of urban renewal policy.


As cities become more deeply involved in their Community Renewal Programs, questions will be raised, problems encountered, and procedures clarified that could not be anticipated at the start. What criteria should be given the most weight in selecting priority renewal projects — intensity of blight, strengthening the local economic base, generating desirable private improvement in surrounding areas? Should specific references to areas designated for renewal be eliminated in the final CRP report to lessen public anxiety over clearance action that either may not occur for years or fail to materialize at all? Will federal funds be available in support of continuing CRP efforts?

On the other hand, there are some broader issues that merit early attention by localities undertaking or contemplating a CRP. In some instances, the very success or failure of the program may be affected. Four such topics will be discussed in this section: organizing for the CRP; the CRP and the general plan; the CRP and the metropolitan area; and social planning in the CRP.

Organizing for the CRP

Federal policy relating to local agency responsibility for the CRP is purposely vague. A current view contends that the question of what agency administers the CRP is unimportant; the only requirement is that whoever directs the job "should be able to conduct it so as to represent no narrower interest than that of the community as a whole." But for the locality doing the CRP, a sound administrative setup is essential. A faulty one may put the program off on the wrong foot and consequently spell its early demise.

Several conditions should be kept in mind in delegating responsibility for the CRP operation:

  1. The program should be done by an agency close to the municipality's executive and legislative officials. The success of such an ambitious program requires a major commitment by those responsible for making governmental decisions. One respondent put it succinctly:

If the CRP is to mean anything, it must reflect the policies of the government's political leadership, which, in turn, will be sensitive to the votes in the slum areas, the holding power of religious or ethnic groups in old settlements, the pressures of realtors, mortgagors, and the like. The CRP is supposed to be an action program; if it is not realistically incorporated into public policy, it will never see action. If it does see action without the full understanding and support of the political leadership, and the action blows the leadership off its seat, renewal may well be buried deep.

  1. The agency charged with directing the CRP must be sufficiently action-oriented to preclude the possibility of shaping a program laden with practical and unattainable objectives.
  2. The CRP should not go off on its own tangent, pursuing a course inconsistent with community-wide development policy. Thus, the responsible local public agency must give more than lip service attention to incorporating general planning policies into the CRP.
  3. Urban renewal is a collaborative venture, requiring the support and cooperation of many public and private agencies. In this sense, the CRP should be structured to take full advantage of available local resources. Using local personnel during appropriate phases of the program — building department inspectors, health department interviewers, private welfare organization field workers — is a healthy trend that should be encouraged.
  4. Major responsibility for the CRP should be centered in one agency, rather than a council of agencies, to avoid fragmentation, unnecessary delays and conflicts.

How does actual performance stack up against these conditions? For one, a definite tendency has been observed to use private consultants on the CRP. When consultants are used for their special expertise to supplement government staff, the expenditure is completely legitimate. But when there is an excessive reliance on consultants — hiring them in effect to run the program — the CRP effort may suffer in the long run. The following statement was made by one active CRP participant:

It would be a great mistake for a community to hire consultants to prepare the CRP as a package. Consultants can be very helpful to resident staff, and consultants can do the job if they have a longtime, continuing association with the community. Staff cannot do the CRP effectively unless there is a thorough understanding of spoken and unspoken public policy, a knowledge of the broad group interests in the community, and a strong sense of responsibility for the program recommended. I believe that sense of responsibility can be attained only if the staff making the recommendations will have to live with those recommendations for a long time. Since no CRP will be right the first time, the staff must also be available to make adjustments as understanding grows, policies change, and new programs are added to state and federal legislation on renewal.

On this point, we can look at the experience of the 701 local planning assistance program. Many good master plans have been prepared by consultants hired by localities under this program. The difficulty lies in establishing continuity. Once the contract period terminates, the consultant usually leaves and the community is left to implement plans and policies it only peripherally participated in formulating. More than likely, the plan will have less effect in the long run than initially intended.

Because the CRP is a much more concrete, specific, and politically sensitive instrument, the need for more direct and extensive local government participation in its preparation is correspondingly greater. The tendency to rely too heavily on private consultants in the CRP may lessen the effectiveness of the over-all renewal program.

While the CRP, in most instances, is administered by a single local agency, several cities have delegated responsibility for administering the program to a board composed of two or more agencies. The CRP staff is responsible to the joint board, with the program conceivably becoming a separate and fairly independent operation. Being thus removed, it may suffer from a lack of clear direction and contact with the mainstream of local affairs.

Another trend is to give overall responsibility for the CRP to an independent, semiautonomous redevelopment agency. In part, selecting the redevelopment agency is a natural choice as it traditionally carries the brunt of the renewal program. Two problems, though, may arise. First, because the redevelopment agency is primarily action-minded, too much weight in the selection process may be given to the saleability of projects rather than to long-range community objectives. Second, its relative autonomy makes the task of evolving a program truly reflective of community sentiments appreciably harder. In commenting on the need to have the CRP directed by an agency close to the nexus of government power, one individual states his preference as follows: "A planning department is best, a planning commission second, and a redevelopment agency third."

URA is correct in permitting each locality to set up its CRP as it sees fit. Obviously, no single arrangement will work in every community. Nonetheless, each locality should pay serious attention to determining the appropriate location of the CRP within its governmental structure. Whichever agency is assigned the job of directing it will potentially have a lot to say about how the city will grow and change in the future. Interagency bickerings over possession, however, should not cloud the basic objective of producing a sound, imaginative program, one capable of gaining community recognition and a strong commitment towards its fulfillment.

The CRP and the General Plan

As one observer noted somewhat facetiously, "The CRP and the general plan are inextricably intertwingled." The general plan is essential because it provides a bold statement of development policy as a guide in formulating the CRP. In turn, the CRP is a means of implementing, testing and revising the general plan.

Without a general plan, the CRP cannot do much more than identify the blighted areas of the city, selecting projects on the basis of present conditions. If the existing physical pattern is satisfactory, then this may be adequate; but if there is something wrong with it, then the old mistakes will be repeated and augmented.

The potential effect of the CRP on the general plan may be considerable, inducing some fundamental changes in the nature and performance of the traditional comprehensive planning function. More than likely, the CRP will force reconsideration of the plan, pointing out its impracticalities as well as its fallacies, because it represents a more thorough examination of blighting influences which land uses may exert on one another than has been accomplished heretofore. In one community, for example, a respondent indicated that a proposal for converting a residential area to industrial use would be removed from the general plan because the CRP analysis showed that the total clearance job is staggering. If the general plan is a product of weak analysis to begin with, then the changes to it may be quite extensive.

In addition, the CRP will sap from the general plan most of what is relevant for renewal policy. It will embody a large part of the plan, especially in cities with a limited supply of vacant land where the fundamental problem is the redevelopment and reuse of built-up land. Because of its inclusiveness and viability, the CRP may become, for all practical purposes, the short-range general plan. Moreover, with its added dimension on programming and its corresponding specificity, citizens and officials will probably look more to the CRP than to the general plan for guidance.

Another way the CRP may impinge on the general planning function is through the broad studies authorized under federal policy. The requirement of communitywide blight and economic base studies in a CRP points up weaknesses in some long-standing planning operations. By right, such analyses should have been accomplished as part of the ongoing general planning program, If they have not been done already, then the intention is to have them done under a CRP, thus shifting important study functions from one operation to another.

Some observers also have noted that the general plan has failed to provide renewal with direction as to overall design of effective and efficient communities. In the absence of this guidance, the CRP may begin to perform this function as well.

To get an additional idea of the impact of the CRP, let us view its potential effect on the capital improvement program. As currently conceived, the capital improvement program is a key device for implementing general planning policy. If the CRP becomes a periodically updated, short-range general plan, then it will become a major determinant of capital budgeting policy, especially because operating agency programs related to renewal activity will be treated in a common framework. In the 1962 Philadelphia capital improvements program, for example, approximately 40 per cent of the total expenditure for a six-year period was budgeted for urban renewal activities. More than likely, the CRP will encourage an even greater renewal outlay as it sharpens attention on the need for coordinated renewal action. And gradually the city will turn more and more to the CRP in determining the fiscal and locational dimensions of the capital improvement program, with the traditional general plan becoming proportionately less important.

In projecting the course of both the CRP and general plan in the future, the following may occur. Today's general plan would be altered to take on a modern face, becoming essentially a statement of development policy for some period twenty or thirty years later. Detailed analyses and projections will be shifted to the CRP, which in turn would comprise the short-range plan for community action. The new general plan then would become the broad policy backdrop for subsequent CRP revisions and alterations.

The CRP and the Metropolitan Area

The split between the central city and its surrounding suburban neighbors is likely to grow before subsiding. Competition among governments will more often prevail than will cooperation. For a city embarked on a Community Renewal Program — especially a larger city — this situation may create some real difficulties, perhaps even undermine the success of the program.

Central city programs to attract new industrial and commercial facilities will be countered by similar programs sponsored by other communities in the metropolitan area. Efforts to induce the leadership elite to return to the city will be retarded by the probable continued success of the suburbs to attract high-income families. Extreme population pressure within blighted areas of the central city may not be significantly reduced until minority families are permitted greater access to housing in suburban communities.

It is encouraging, however, to note the importance attached to thorough investigation of regional economic and market forces in CRP policy. Hopefully, such studies will yield accurate predictions of the region's capacity for economic, population and housing growth. With this as background, the potential growth can be measured in terms of the demand for the land development and, most important for the central city, in terms of its significance for cleared land in renewal areas.

But this is only a first step. Suppose these studies came up with a realistic estimate of the market for new industry in ten years and even showed that the core city could reasonably accommodate half of this potential. What assurance would it have that its suburban neighbors would sit idly by while it gathers in its estimated share of the market? In one large metropolitan area, for example, the central city anticipates a sizeable investment of renewal funds to clear sites for industrial use. Several counties in the region, however, plan to reserve large tracts of undeveloped land for industrial purposes, in one case amounting to about 10 per cent of the total county area. Obviously, there is a ceiling on the metropolitan area's industrial potential and someone is going to lose out, quite probably the core city.

This is the point where the CRP machinery falters. Studies, research and advisory materials may disregard political boundaries; programs for action may not. To the extent that the CRP is to produce a commitment to meaningful renewal action, it has to deal with a unit of government that can act, raise money, enforce codes and clear slums. The core city CRP may be acceptable to that city's political leadership; there is no intrinsic reason, however, why it should be accepted by other communities in the metropolitan area. And without such acceptance, the CRP effort may run into some formidable obstacles.

Leigh Curry, chief counsel for the Urban Renewal Administration, says, "In an effort to recognize this problem, the URA is encouraging coordination of Community Renewal Programs within urban areas, while continuing to support what the legislation virtually demands, a Community Renewal Program for a single community which can act effectively to carry it out." (Curry, p. 365) This is the current problem in one large metropolitan area, where two CRPs and two 701 programs are to be undertaken by different governmental units. URA is requiring each government to integrate its study efforts to achieve a maximum degree of coordination.

Obviously, this dilemma highlights the need for effective regional planning as a means of achieving coordinated action. A strong regional planning program could markedly improve the chance of a CRP succeeding in a particular locality, as it would help to develop a consciousness of the interdependence of communities within the area. Specifically, it could provide both a data base and a framework for joint action by separate communities.

Another factor compounding the problem is the contradiction existing on the federal level. For example, sprawling housing developments throughout the metropolitan area have resulted, in part, from Federal Housing Administration mortgage actions. On the other hand, URA, through the urban renewal program — now sharpened by the CRP — is attempting to revitalize the central city. Efforts to induce coordination among Community Renewal Programs may not amount to much if FHA continues to work independently and sometimes contrary to URA philosophy.

Social Planning in the CRP

Traditionally, urban renewal has stressed the physical, fiscal and legal aspects of blight. The emphasis on nonsocial factors is understandable; land, money and the law are easier to change and manipulate than people's values and opportunities. Government can alter the physical problems of a neighborhood much easier than it can its social problems.

Yet, the cause and perpetuation of blight can be traced in large part to social factors. How many public housing projects have been built in slum areas only to find that delinquency, alcoholism, and illegitimacy rates had not appreciably diminished among the inhabitants? How many new slums are being formed because a sizeable minority group has neither the employment opportunities nor the. motivations to maintain a middle-class living environment? How many conservation projects have faltered because of a failure to mobilize an effective neighborhood response in the face of spreading blight?

As one renewal official said, "If we are not just going to move the slums around, we must give more attention to the people in them." The problem of blighted areas cannot be solved solely by attacking its symptoms; the causes also must be dealt with — motivations, behavior, attitudes, incomes, and employment opportunities of people.

How does the Community Renewal Program measure up against this need for greater consideration of the social fabric of the community? Although primarily focused on the city's physical plant, the CRP may well serve as an important catalyst in the area of social planning. Several CRP communities have designed studies to delve into various aspects of social planning, even though URA does not specifically make this cost an eligible item.

Chicago and Rochester plan to study the impact that a changing population makes on deteriorating residential areas, especially in terms of the nature of market demand for residential and nonresidential uses in such areas. A survey of owner and tenant attitudes will be undertaken in Springfield, Ohio, to determine feasible types of treatment in nonclearance areas. Minneapolis is giving a stronger emphasis to the creation of city-wide and neighborhood citizen groups to bolster the CRP and increase the chance for effective renewal action. Other cities have budgeted funds to hire community organization specialists to investigate ways to mobilize neighborhoods for participation in the renewal process. New Haven has hired consultants to undertake a series of attitude surveys. Undoubtedly, detailed relocation studies will yield much useful information on that segment of the population displaced by renewal action. Detroit, for example, intends to study the effects of relocation on both the persons to be relocated and the persons who live in the probable reception areas.

Numerous other examples could be cited. On the whole, though, CRP efforts to improve understanding of the social factors underlying blight are sporadic. One difficulty in drafting local programs is to get articulate statements of the problem and actions needed from social planners and welfare people.

Howard Hallman, director of the Division of Neighborhood Improvement for the New Haven Redevelopment Agency, elaborated on how social planning could become a more integral part of a CRP. (Hallman, p. 70) He contends that a CRP should include a social plan chapter, one which would rest on an analysis of the characteristics of the population and its various subcultures, including the different values and cultural norms to be found among these subgroups. The social plan should pay considerable attention to employment, public education, and cultural activities as well as to the traditional concerns of housing and social services. Recognizing that a city cannot adopt a social plan in the same sense as it does an urban renewal project plan, he goes on to say, whatever the method of adoption, the important thing is a commitment to integrate the implementation of the social plan and the renewal plan.

On this point, the Philadelphia CRP deserves mention. The end product is to construct an Annual Development Program, which will be similar to the city's capital improvement program but will be expanded to include not only physical needs but all city development needs. Examples of the latter might be educational and social programs which, having no physical end product, are not now included in the general plan. This novel approach is much broader in concept than the standard CRP, as it includes public improvement, private improvement, and social programming considerations. In effect, Philadelphia may come up with an integrated program calling for capital facility expenditures as well as expenditures for employment retraining, new educational programs, or psychological counseling services in certain priority renewal areas. In this way, a more fundamental and pervasive attack on blight might be launched.


The American city is constantly undergoing change through the replacement of old parts and the adoption of new functions and forms. A good deal of the explanation of how it changes in the future may be directly traceable to the Community Renewal Program. The qualifier "may" is intentional, for there is no assurance that the CRP will achieve its expectations. In theory, the CRP represents one of the best instruments yet available to a community for avoiding past mistakes and charting a comprehensive, intelligent course of development.

No action is self-implementing, however sound it appears to be. One measure of a successful CRP will ultimately hinge on whether it becomes accepted as public and private policy. Any one of the following could block its acceptance: recommending actions politically too hot to handle, failing to consult with or inform government and lay leaders on what should or is being done, proposing unrealistic courses of action.

On the other hand, even if the CRP is followed, it is important that what is proposed be sufficiently sound to meet the challenges ahead. A good sales job on a faulty and defective product may do more harm in the long run than if nothing was done at all. On this score, the CRP seems on safer ground. URA has defined the program intelligently and broadly. Even though difficult to find, qualified personnel are being hired to staff local programs. And built into the program is a strong emphasis on continual revision as actions are taken and conditions change.

Perhaps the initial CRP will not define a bold enough program to eliminate slums entirely, but a strong, purposeful and integrated start can be made, one that can be enlarged upon in the future. For now, though, the full story on the Community Renewal Program remains to unfold.


The ASPO Planning Advisory Service wishes to thank the following people for furnishing material and, in some cases, useful comments on the Community Renewal Program:

Henry Allard, Aurora, Colorado; Thomas Appleby, New Haven, Connecticut; Robert Bach, Hamilton, Ohio; Robert Bartels, Hartford, Connecticut; Harold Black, Detroit; Bernard Blier, Scranton, Pennsylvania; J. Robert Cameron, Denver; Margaret Carroll, Washington, D.C.; James Crozier, Fort Wayne, Indiana; Samuel Cullers, Chicago; Charles Downe, Newton, Massachusetts; Robert Ducharme, Chicago;

Leland Edmonds, Wichita, Kansas; Robert Emerson, Syracuse, New York; Frederic Fay, Richmond, Virginia; Graham Finney, Philadelphia; James Gardner, Stockton, California; Calvin Hamilton, Pittsburgh; Lawrence Irvin, Minneapolis; Robert Jacobson, Los Angeles; Hinman Kealy, Newark, New Jersey; C. Samuel Kissinger, Pottstown, Pennsylvania; Vincent Lung, Milwaukee;

Morton Lustig, Philadelphia; H. Clarke Mahannah, Springfield, Ohio; Sho Maruyama, Philadelphia; Donald Monson, New York; Clarence Simonowicz, Dayton, Ohio; Julian Susa, Akron, Ohio; Ann Taylor, Rochester, N.Y.; Glenn Turner, Tulsa, Oklahoma; Alfred Walker, Newark, New Jersey; Donald Zieimke, Muskegon, Michigan; and Warren Zitzmann, Washington, D. C.

A special thanks is due Richard Ives, Acting Deputy Assistant Commissioner for Urban Planning and Community Development, Urban Renewal Administration, for providing us with much valuable background information on the philosophy and status of the current Community Renewal Program.


Akahoshi, G., and Brussat, W. "Economic Analysis Should Be Part of a CRP," Journal of Housing. February 1962, pp. 71–73.

Community Renewal Program Roundtable. American Institute of Planners and National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials. May 1961.

Curry, S. Leigh, Jr. "The Community Renewal Program," Federal Bar Journal, Vol. XXI, No. 3 (Summer 1961), pp. 358–371.

Hallman, Howard. "Social Planning Should Be Part of a CRP," Journal of Housing, February 1962, pp. 70, 74–76.

Housing and Home Finance Agency. Statement of Community Renewal Program Policy, Local Public Agency Letter No. 227. Washington, October 9, 1961.

Journal of Housing. Summary of NARRO Conference Roundtable on CRP and community renewal. December 1961, pp. 514–515.

New Jersey State Department of Conservation and Economic Development. Assistance for Community Renewal Programming. July 1961.

Renew Newark. Central Planning Board of Newark, N.J., 1961.

Slayton, William L. Speech on the CRP, El Paso, May 1961.

———. "The Community Renewal Program: An Action Plan for Community-Wide Improvement," speech in Hartford, Connecticut, May 1962.

U.S. Senate, Committee on Banking and Currency. Hearings, Various Bills to Amend the Federal Housing Laws. 86th Congress, 1st Session

Prepared by Jerome L. Kaufman. Copyright © 1962 by American Society of Planning Officials