I haven't thought of these explanations in decades. While the adults in my life tried to explain political corruption and racism, as I got older, those early explanations stick out. I was glad that Freidrichs spent so much of his film debunking them. Explaining not only why the building deteriorated, but why tenants turned on them and began destroying what was there. The stories of people throwing bricks at fire trucks and police cars are identical to the stories I grew up with, but I have never heard them from the point of view of people living in the projects.
It wasn't a lack of understanding that lead to breakdowns in garbage removal; it was mismanagement. What would my father's building have been like if the garbage removal and other maintenance had stopped? If to live there families had to be split up? My friends and I were a bit wild. It is not hard for me to imagine our hi-jinx spiraling out of control if security guards and a few frightening fathers (mine among them) hadn't reigned us in. My dad scared my friends, not because he was stern, but simply because he was so big and formal in his manor. No part of me thought my family, who was not coming from the country, who knew how to live in a city, who were wealthy enough to know better, would have done any better than the families in the film.