Citizen participation in United States Department of Housing and Urban Development programs: From the Great Society to the New Federalism
This research examines the dynamic and significant shift in citizen participation (CP) that has occurred in the U.S. over the past forty years, permeating all aspects of community development. Since the era of The Great Society in the 1960s, local governments' broad and widespread citizen participation in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) Model Cities Program (MCP) has evolved into more narrow, function-oriented representation by nonprofits extensively employing the resources of HUD's Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program. The CDBG program was heralded as the key component of the New Federalism in the 1980s and 1990s. Two major platforms of the New Federalism were devolution of regulatory power and privatization of governmental responsibilities. Research indicates that calls for political devolution and privatization of federal government programs precipitated the emergence of the private nonprofit sector's role in community planning and development programs. Increasingly, federal funding (e.g. CDBG) has been channeled into the private nonprofit sector, represented by Community Based Organizations (CBOs) and their derivatives, such as Community Development Corporations (CDCs). Since the Model Cities Program, citizen participation---viewed then as horizontally integrated in the function of "planning"---has extended vertically, with the expanded involvement of CBOs in program conceptualization, program budgeting and activity implementation, arguably to the detriment of general pluralistic citizen empowerment, especially if the nonprofit boards have become more 'elite' in their composition and orientation.
Based on the key assumption that citizen participation is generally beneficial to both citizenry and government, this research substantiates the researcher's argument that the nonprofit sector plans and operates governmental programs on a more vertically integrated basis (e.g. conceptualizing, planning, budgeting, and implementation), while more broad-based and pluralistic participation is often marginalized to the public hearing process in the preliminary planning phase. This research study examines that trend and concludes that, if it continues unchecked, the evolution represents a negative transformation of CP.
Included in the dissertation is an extensive analysis of the author's theoretical framework---built, in part, on an analysis of the scholarly literature---for evaluating citizen participation and the effects of nonprofit privatization on CP.
Area planning & development;
0999: Area planning & development
0617: Public administration