Cover image for Urban injustice : how ghettos happen
Urban injustice : how ghettos happen
Hilfiker, David.
Personal Author:
A Seven Stories Press first edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Seven Stories Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
xvii, 158 pages ; 22 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HV4045 .H55 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



David Hilfiker has committed his life, both as a writer and a doctor, to people in need, writing about the urban poor with whom he's spent all his days for he last two decades. In this book, he explains in beautiful and simple language how the myth that the urban poor siphon off precious government resources is contradicted by the facts, and how most programs are not sufficiently orchestrated to enable people to escape the cycle of urban poverty. Making a clear path through the history of societal poverty, he draws on models from around the world to build a better world.

Author Notes

In 1983 David Hilfiker moved to Washington, D.C., to practice medicine in the center of the city at Christ House. In 1990 he cofounded Joseph's House. He lived there for three years and continues to work there today
Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president of the Children's Defense Fund (CDF)

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Hilfiker, a white doctor who has worked with homeless and HIV-positive men in Washington, D.C., for nearly 20 years, begins by noting, "[W]hen most Americans think about poverty, or see the poor on television, or read about them in the newspapers, the images are of poor black men hanging around the street corner, poor black teenagers selling drugs, poor black single mothers living on welfare, poor black inner-city schools failing their children." Yet only 12% of the nation's poor are African-American, according to his extrapolation from the 2000 census. In a calm, thoughtful yet impassioned voice, Hilfiker sets out to explain why this state of affairs persists, tracing the failure of programs to alleviate poverty, from Reconstruction through the New Deal to the contemporary battles over welfare. He is even brave enough to suggest solutions for the end of poverty and ghettos, to "remove this stain upon our American democracy." This accessible, clearly written book includes an excellent annotated bibliography and may inspire ordinary people to work toward full desegregation of our society. (Sept. 25) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Hilfiker is a compassionate white doctor who has spent more than two decades living with the poor and practicing "poverty medicine" in Washington, DC. He began doctoring with the premise that with sufficient "strengthening" he could turn his patients' lives around. This book represents his exploration of that failed premise and his answer to why African American poverty is intransigent and structural. He includes an especially good chapter on welfare history, including the 1960s "skirmish" on poverty. The last chapter suggests very practical public policies and budgets that could win a real war on poverty if the United States would surmount the political problems inherent in it. Hilfiker's two previous books, the prize-winning Healing the Wounds and Not All of Us Are Saints, are reflections on a doctor's work and patients. Clear and authoritative without being academic, this title is good reading for those who don't want to wade into texts by William Julius Wilson or Michael B. Katz, leading scholars of similar proclivity. Recommended for public libraries and for high school and college students. Janice Dunham, John Jay Coll. Lib., CUNY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Forewordp. vii
Introductionp. xi
1 Building the Ghetto: A Historyp. 1
2 Pillaging the Ghetto: Other Causes of Povertyp. 17
3 The Usual Suspectsp. 45
4 Welfare in Modern Americap. 63
5 Welfare Elsewherep. 107
6 Ending Poverty as We Know Itp. 117
Acknowledgmentsp. 129
Annotated Bibliographyp. 133
Notesp. 147