Academic journal article Cityscape

Cityscape Mixed-Income Symposium Summary and Response: Implications for Antipoverty Policy

Academic journal article Cityscape

Cityscape Mixed-Income Symposium Summary and Response: Implications for Antipoverty Policy

Article excerpt

I commend symposium guest editors James C. Fraser, Deirdre Oakley, and Diane K. Levy for initiating and compiling this collection of symposium articles on the timely topic of poverty déconcentration and mixed-income development. As these articles were being finalized, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced that three additional cities would receive Choice Neighborhoods implementation grants of about $30 million, joining the five cities that were named in 2011. Thus, in the United States, the Obama Administration is doubling down on the approach of poverty déconcentration through public housing demolition, resident relocation, and mixed-income redevelopment.

After nearly 20 years of poverty déconcentration and mixed-income efforts in the United States and Western Europe (and in other parts of the world, such as Australia), however, fundamental questions remain. The intentions and overall outcomes of efforts to create pathways to self-sufficiency and opportunity for those who have been socially and economically isolated in high-poverty, inner-city communities remain unclear. The articles in this symposium reflect on and add to the literature that has provided evidence of these shortcomings.

Although the symposium is introduced as focusing on "mixed-income housing initiatives," I would contend that the scope of its articles is better framed as "poverty déconcentration" with a focus on the two main policy approaches of the past two decades: dispersal and mixed-income development. The articles by Victoria Basolo, by Kimberly Skobba and Edward G. Goetz, and by Deirdre Oakley, Erin Ruel, and Lesley Reid review relocation and mobility programs. The articles by James C. Fraser, Robert J. Chaskin, and Joshua Theodore Bazuin, by Ade Kearns, Martin McKee, Elena Sautkina, George Weeks, and Lyndal Bond, by JoDee Keller, Janice Laakso, Christine Stevens, and Cathy Tashiro, by Reinout Kleinhans and Maarten van Ham, and by Diane K. Levy, Zach McDade, and Kassie Bertumen consider mixed-income and mixed-tenure efforts. The symposium guest editors understandably describe relocation efforts as also having the objective of promoting mixed-income neighborhoods. The literature on mobility research and the articles in this symposium demonstrate, however, that, although relocation may be a tool to move some low-income households to better neighborhood environments, relocation is generally not creating mixed-income communities and certainly is not creating a mix as systematically and directly as initiatives such as Housing Opportunities for People Everywhere (HOPE VI), Right to Buy, and Choice Neighborhoods are doing. As I shall make clear when I return to future implications, I think it is important not to conflate these two related, but distinct, policy choices and approaches under the construct of mixed-income housing.

Regardless of framing, the intention of the symposium is clear: to take stock of efforts to address poverty concentration on both sides of the Atlantic. Several important questions are posed and answered in these articles, including these: What have been the benefits of social mixing for poor people? What are the implications of today's dominant ideological approach to urban poverty policy, focusing on individual rather than structural causes and turning to the market to provide social and public housing? Given the shortcomings of current efforts, what design improvements could be made to poverty déconcentration programs?

An essential question posed in Fraser, Oakley, and Levy's introductory article, but never fully and directly tackled by any of the other articles, is "When and how should society, and its government leaders, house the least advantaged?" Additional questions about déconcentration policy not addressed by the articles include these: What alternative antipoverty paradigm should be considered? What are the relative costs and benefits of poverty dispersal and mixed-income development? …

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.