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Milwaukee's community renewal program: urban renewal techniques
(May 1964)

III. Conservation,   pp. 7-21


Page 7

III CONSERVATION
American cities from coast to coast have found that areas deteriorate into slums faster than clearance
and redevelopment can eliminate the blight. Code enforcement may be adequate to prevent extreme suffering
or extreme hazard in individual houses, but codes have not been enough to prevent the decline of a neighbor-
hood into a blighted condition.
With passage of the Housing Act of 1954, Congress recognized that clearance alone is not the answer to
the problems of urban blight. The conservation type of urban renewal was created to preserve neighborhoods be-
fore the more costly and more drastic clearance treatment is necessary.
Conservation can prevent the causes of blight in new neighborhoods and it can halt the decline of sound
middle-aged areas and reverse the trend, but it usually cannot save badly deteriorated older neighborhoods. It
is not a substitute for clearance and redevelopment. Conservation is new to the city of Milwaukee. Fortunately,
the city is in a position to benefit from the knowledge and techniques developed by the federal government and
by such cities as Baltimore, Maryland; Cincinnati, Ohio; Grand Prairie, Texas; Little Rock, Arkansas; Oak-
land, California; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Experiences in other cities show
that the conservation of neighborhoods and the rehabilitation of properties is a complex, individualized renewal
technique.
CONSERVATION OBJECTIVES
In considering the goals to be achieved through conservation, it is necessary to recognize intangible as
well as tangible values. An example would be the pride a resident has in his home, or his fear that his neigh-
bors are letting him down by neglecting their own dwellings and thereby threatening the "values" he seeks to
maintain. Intangible residential values also are accountable in terms of convenience such as nearby stores at
which to buy regularly needed supplies and services; easy, safe vehicular access; ample opportunity for family
recreation nearby; adequate schools and churches; and the like. Another equally important intangible value,
however, lies in the role a resident's neighborhood plays in the community of which it is a part, and in the role
that the community plays in the complex of all the communities that make up the organism of the city. Some
communities, and even neighborhoods, have roles that are of regional importance, while others serve purely
local roles. The "values" a family attaches to its particular place of residence are bound to reflect the role its
neighborhood or community plays in the larger city complex.
It is the sum total of all these "values" that is translated into the economic worth of the residential
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