Modes of Violence Against Puerto Rico’s Urban Poor: Housing Policy in Puerto Rico
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Public housing projects reserved for low-income families in Puerto Rico are known as caseríos. A caserío consists of several tenement structures subdivided into one-family apartments built on a large and compact settlement (Duany 1997:201). These projects are ubiquitous around the island. I argue that caseríos are unable to serve the needs of their residents and are even sites of various modes of violence against the urban poor. Residents of public housing are subjected to both significant explicit and structural violence, but much more pervasive is the latter. Forms of explicit violence residents face include police brutality and media sanctioning of violence against youth. Forms of structural violence include limited socioeconomic mobility, segregation and isolation within and between neighborhoods, governmental neglect of facilities, and forced reconfigurations of kinship networks and family organization.