Academic journal article Cityscape

Making Mixed-Income Neighborhoods Work for Low-Income Households

Academic journal article Cityscape

Making Mixed-Income Neighborhoods Work for Low-Income Households

Article excerpt

Abstract

Mixed-income housing policies such as Housing Opportunities for People Everywhere, or HOPE VI, are an outcome of historical processes that have limited the scope of subsidized public housing in America, leading to disinvestment in government housing programs in favor of reinvestment in market-based solutions. The underlying assumption has been that reinvestment deconcentrates poverty and addresses other perceived failures of traditional public housing. Although they provide some benefits to lower income residents, such initiatives have not produced many of the outcomes for which their advocates had hoped. The goal of this article is to reinvigorate the conversation about how, and if mixed-income housing policies can be implemented in ways that work with and for the benefit of low-income populations. The article draws on literature about public housing and mixed-income development to posit ways that mixed-income initiatives might be combined with other programmatic efforts to foster upward trajectories for those experiencing poverty and to create public housing environments where people can thrive in all aspects of their lives. In the final section, we reimagine mixed-income housing in ways that could result in more inclusive communities-a reimagination that we suggest may better meet the original goals of such programs without dismissing the inherent limitations of solving entrenched poverty.

Introduction

The goal of this article is to reinvigorate the conversation about how, and if, mixed-income housing policies can be implemented in ways that work with and for the benefit of low-income populations. In part, this effort is motivated by the more critical treatments of mixed-income development that fundamentally challenge this agenda toward city building as incapable of achieving both place-based and people-based goals. These critiques suggest that, rather than achieving balanced development that effectively addresses the problems of concentrated urban poverty, mixed-income development schemes are more properly seen as veiled efforts at gentrification, appropriating inner-city neighborhoods with renewed market value for development that disproportionately benefits capital interests and the middle class. In light of these critiques, we ask: Can the twin goals of improving neighborhood conditions and assuring opportunities for low-income people be simultaneously realized? How can mixed-income initiatives be combined with other policy instruments to address poverty in a more holistic manner? What types of community are possible in a mixed-income environment?

In cities across the United States, public housing developments and entire neighborhoods have been sites for mixed-income and mixed-tenure initiatives aimed at transforming urban areas. Proponents of these policies frame mixed-income housing as a route toward building better neighborhoods that will promote poverty amelioration by supplying low-income, "workforce,"1 and higher income housing products to attract socioeconomic mix (Cisneros and Engdahl, 2009). Alternatively, opponents frame mixed-income housing development as a tool for gentrification founded on the displacement of low-income populations from target neighborhoods under the banner of poverty déconcentration (Bridge, Butler, and Lees, 2012; Lees, 2008). A third position is that many mixed-income initiatives might create some neighborhood change and provide some response to urban poverty but that its effects are more modest than either the gentrification-oriented critics or poverty-deconcentration champions suggest (Fraser, DeFilippis, and Bazuin, 2012). These multiple perspectives on the promise and limitations of mixed-income development strategies arise in part because mixed-income policies and programs, although grounded in a recognition of the deleterious effect of concentrated urban poverty and operating from a set of broad assumptions about the potential benefits of income diversity and neighborhood restructuring, lack a coherent intervention model built from a clear theory of change. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.