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Status: Complete

City Power: A Way to Regional Open Housing

Those [of us] who have been formed in the governmental atmosphere of Milwaukee and Wisconsin, and who are students of state and local government, view the current conflict over open housing legislation in Milwaukee with alarm. Are the city and the state going to lose their image as responsible, creative governments by failing to resolve the need for open housing legislation? Is the Milwaukee region going to lose its image as an area of sophisticated intergovernmental cooperation by failure of the region to adopt open housing legislation? The Milwaukee city fathers currently say regional legislation is essential to the adoption of open housing laws for the City.

Blame is difficult to assess. Certainly it is no excuse for Milwaukee to fail to adopt open housing legislation just because it cannot move the entire region to do so. On the other hand, the City has a point: cities that are surrounded by smaller incorporated areas, such as Milwaukee, have become reservoirs for the aged, the poor and the deprived. The suburban areas have not shared the burden of helping but in fact have made the burden of the cities doubly difficult by "feeding" on the cities. The suburbanites benefit from the cities but do not share the cities' costs. The result of this "feeding without cost" is the interesting general statistic that the per capita cost of government in central cities increases in proportion to the size of the suburban area outside the central city.

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