Like many American cities, Richmond, Virginia is pockmarked by once middle-class neighborhoods that have fallen into decline and are now blighted by decayed and abandoned buildings. Among the more severely depressed areas of Richmond is the historic Blackwell district. Decades ago, in an effort to provide homes for the poorest of Richmond’s citizens, row after row of nondescript, multi-family, brick-faced, public housing units or “projects” were erected in Blackwell. By the end of the 20th century, their boarded windows, crumbling infrastructures, and graffiti covered facades were sad but eloquent monuments to inefficacious governmental policies and the unrelenting poverty and despair of Blackwell’s irresolute residents.


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