«Mixed Messages on Mixed incoMes Volume 15, Number 2 • 2013 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development | Office of Policy Development and ...»
Thus, the assumption is that having a greater diversity of residents, especially including higher income groups alongside poorer and more deprived residents, has the potential to change the attitudes and behaviors of the disadvantaged group. This change is expected to happen through a number of social mechanisms (Galster, 2007), some operating on an individual basis (for example, through peers and role models) and some on a collective basis (for example, through social pressures to conform and the exercise of informal social control). These mechanisms may serve to change the aspirations and behaviors of individual residents and the transmitted expectations and norms of the community. Key behavior areas of concern in this regard are attitudes to the local environment (as discussed previously); to education and employment; and to crime, antisocial behavior, and the exercise of informal social control.
A number of studies have indicated the operation of social-mix neighborhood effects on education, albeit with different minimum levels of affluent neighbors required for beneficial influences on specific outcomes: school-leaving age and teenage childbearing (Crane, 1991), educational attainment (Duncan, Connell, and Klebanov, 1997; Kauppinen, 2004), and intellectual and behavioral development scores (Chase-Lansdale et al., 1997).
Cityscape 49Kearns, McKee, Sautkina, Weeks, and Bond
Two propositions relate to informal social control regarding mixed communities. First, that owners or higher income residents will be less likely to put up with crime and antisocial behavior and will either intervene directly or call on the authorities to act, and they will generally support enforcement of rules (Rosenbaum, Lurigio, and Davis, 1998). Second, communities with more middle-class residents will be more socially organized and therefore better able to supervise their members, develop and transmit social norms, and ensure compliance with those norms so that problems occur less often. Although studies have shown that crime and informal social control are generally related to community characteristics such as socioeconomic status, residential stability, levels of homeownership, and organizational participation (Sampson and Groves, 1989; Sampson, Raudenbush, and Earls, 1997; Veysey and Messner, 1999), “the available evidence is inconclusive about whether increased levels of social control have been observed in existing mixed-income developments and, if so, what the source of that increased control is” (Joseph, 2006: 219). A recent review of U.K.
research on existing developments reported very inconclusive evidence about the relationship between tenure mix and perceptions of crime and antisocial behavior among residents (Sautkina, Bond, and Kearns, 2012), and the review found only one study showing that mixed tenure resulted in a reduction in crime (Page and Boughton, 1997).
The economic impacts of mixed communities are held to be of two broad types. With the first type, a social-capital argument asserts that weak social ties between neighbors who are different from each other will particularly benefit lower income groups by providing access to employment information and job opportunities (Granovetter, 1995; Lin and Dumin, 1986). The European evidence for such employment or income effects of residential mixing is limited and inconsistent, however.
Scottish longitudinal research has found no effect of tenure mix on individuals’ ability to obtain employment over time and an only minimal positive effect on their ability to remain in employment (van Ham and Manley, 2010). Swedish evidence, on the other hand, points to some gains in earnings for low-income groups from having middle-income neighbors as a dominant group; having other lower income neighbors, however, can erode the positive effect (Galster et al., 2008), indicating that precision in mixing may be important to deriving the best outcomes for residents.
Despite the empirical evidence for social-interactive effects of mixing—be it for the environment, employment, education, and so on—questions remain about the mechanisms involved. Galster (2012) asked whether the effects of affluent neighbors derive from role-model effects or from the extra resources brought into local institutions, like schools. Joseph (2006) questioned whether role modeling concerns the transmission of values or relates more to skills and opportunities; that is, whether it involves observation (“distal role-modelling”) or direct contact involving advice, feedback, and accountability (“proximal role-modelling”). He concluded that, “Although the presence of middle-class role models has become a fundamental and commonly accepted rationale for mixed-income development, my review raises serious questions about the relative importance of this proposition” (Joseph, 2006: 221). These things matter for our purposes, as the mechanisms involved in neighborhood effects from social mix have different implications for the other neighborhood conditions required for those effects to operate.
The second type of economic effect of mixed communities is that higher income residents are expected to help “create a market for services” (Smith, 2002) through their spending power, thus attracting private investment into the local area. By contrast, some U.K. research has reported that 50 Mixed Messages on Mixed Incomes Mixed-Tenure Orthodoxy: Practitioner Reflections on Policy Effects more affluent residents in deprived areas “are able to escape [the] area by car to access external services” (Atkinson and Kintrea, 2004: 451), thus undermining the local economic impact of mix.
On the area economic impact, however, Joseph (2006: 221) remarked, “Despite a lack of empirical evidence, this proposition remains a compelling argument.” Mixed communities are often discussed as part of the “sustainable communities” policy agenda (ODPM, 2003), with tenure mix seen as a means to developing greater sustainability for the future. For existing social housing areas, the sustainability question relates to issues of housing, reputation, and management. In housing terms, the identified problem was of low demand to live in some social housing estates, attributed to poor-quality housing or a lack of the right types and sizes of dwellings to meet people’s needs or aspirations (Bramley and Pawson, 2002). This issue was seen to be exacerbated by the fact that some areas had negative reputations, being seen as run down, poverty stricken, suffering problems of crime and antisocial behavior, and lacking a sense of cohesion or community, all of which could lead existing residents to leave and deter others from moving to the area (Permentier, van Ham, and Bolt, 2007). Mixed-tenure communities are intended to improve the external reputation of social housing or deprived areas.
The management issue is a slight variant on the issue identified in Joseph’s version of the “political economy of place” (Joseph, 2006). The case of social housing areas has raised dual concerns. One concern has been not so much that such estates were ignored by the authorities and lacked effective advocates for public-sector attention, but rather that they relied too heavily on public interventions and services and would benefit from more self-governance, aided by the participation and voice of higher income groups and homeowners. More recent research, however, has indicated that deprived areas may still suffer from a level of public services that is insufficient to compensate for the problems of disadvantage. This lack may be because of low expectations, rationing, discrimination, or competition with other areas (Hastings, 2009), all of which effects may be reduced by having a more diverse resident group.
As we have seen, some of the intended benefits from residential social mix are expected to be produced via social interaction between income or tenure groups, although recent reviews have been pessimistic on this point. Galster (forthcoming) concluded that social mix was probably insufficient to generate substantial interactions between groups, and Tunstall and Lupton (2010: 20) went further to state that “Limited social interaction between tenure, employment and income groups … [was] partly … because of design and layout which tend to mean people from different groups are not literally neighbours.” Similarly, Kleinhans (2004: 378) observed that cross-tenure interactions were “hampered by spatial separation between tenures as a result of neighbourhood layout.” This observation echoes Kleit’s (2005) finding that social connections were greater with spatial proximity and shared attributes.
This consensus of view about the causes of limited social interaction in mixed situations is consistent with the view among housing and planning professionals that fuller spatial integration of housing tenures is more beneficial. Thus, a best-practice guide to mixed communities recommends that through a “pepper-potted” or “dispersal” approach, “the greatest integration between tenures is achieved” and stigmatization of groups avoided (Bailey et al., 2006: 49).
To summarize, we identify the following elements of orthodoxy within mixed-tenure housing and planning policies.
• Tenure mix will deliver improvements in the quality of the residential and physical environments.
• Tenure mix will result in social change within communities, in terms of both social composition and social behaviors.
• Tenure mix will have a positive effect on the local economy, helping to reduce unemployment and boost local spending.
• Communities will become more sustainable because of tenure mix, through increased housing demand and reduced public-sector inputs.
• Spatially integrated forms of tenure mix will be the more successful in producing positive results.
Our aim in this research is to see how practitioners who have been involved in developing and managing mixed-tenure housing estates reflect on their achievement of these objectives and then to consider why such orthodoxies might be clearer and simpler in theory than in practice.
Methods This section describes the urban setting for our study, the specific study areas involved, and the composition of our qualitative sample of interviewees.
Study Communities We studied three postwar council estates—that is, “rationally planned schemes” (Ravetz, 2001)— in Glasgow, each changed in different ways from being entirely socially rented housing to becoming mixed tenure during the past 20 years or so. Castlemilk and Drumchapel are two of Glasgow’s four peripheral estates, built on the edges of the city in the 1950s and now containing approximately 7,000 and 6,000 dwellings, respectively. The tenure structure is identical for the two estates, with 74 percent social renting, 23 percent owner occupation, and 3 percent private renting (GCC, 2011).
Part of the tenure change in each estate was a result of Right to Buy, a policy of the 1980s that gave council tenants the option to buy their homes at discounted prices. Furthermore, Castlemilk was subject to a government-led regeneration program in the 1990s, which reduced densities on the estate and allowed for infill private development, especially along the southern and eastern boundaries of the estate (CPC, 1999). Drumchapel was extended on its western edge through a new access road that opened up green land for private housing development (GCC, 1992). More recently, several infill private housing developments have been started as part of the council’s New Neighbourhoods Initiative, intended to bring middle-income families into social housing areas (DAHP, 2002). In the case of the two peripheral estates, the housing tenures tend to exist in segregated and segmented developments, for example, in separate culs-de-sac or across the street from one another.
The third study area is what is now called New Gorbals, comprising the redevelopment in the 1990s of part of the wider Gorbals estate through large-scale demolition and a master-planning
exercise (CZWG, 1990; Tiesdell and MacFarlane, 2007) with a strong emphasis on urban design and mixed-use (residential and commercial) buildings and boulevards, a grid street layout, and higher densities (Thompson-Fawcett, 2004). According to local property tax records, New Gorbals consists of 1,800 dwellings with a tenure mix of 50 percent social renting, 38 percent owner occupation, and 12 percent private renting. Because of the redevelopment, the tenures are more integrated in New Gorbals than in the two peripheral estates, with the tenures sometimes alternating between staircases (“closes”) in the same street block.
Interviews Interviewing “stakeholders” and “implementers” has been identified as a useful, perhaps even necessary, part of understanding how programs and policy actions might have effects through aiding an evaluator’s understanding of the intended outcomes, contextual influences, and resource requirements and “the sheer complexity of the interventions” (Mackenzie and Blamey, 2005: 155). Using practitioners as key informants in the study of urban, community-level policy interventions has been done before. In the field of urban health, research has used “key stakeholders,” including local policymakers and practitioners, to investigate how programs are developed in the absence of good evidence to guide community and environmental interventions (Goodwin et al., 2012). A previous study in Scotland targeted practitioners to examine area effects on life chances in deprived areas consisting of both social housing and mixed tenure by selecting for interview public service and welfare professionals with knowledge of the patterns of social life on the estates (Atkinson and Kintrea, 2004). Given the fact of policy orthodoxy, practitioners may be inclined to view the policy in a positive light, but in asking them to consider a range of outcomes, we are more likely to open up a space within which they can consider how well-founded that belief is.
We purposively sampled practitioners through our contacts with the city council, using a snowballing method to reach others thereafter, and we sought to include people involved in decisions about the development of the three estates in the 1990s and people working on the estates today.
In total, 17 practitioners were recruited and interviewed, including urban planners, housing management staff, regeneration agency staff, and head teachers at local schools for all three estates.