«Mixed Messages on Mixed incoMes Volume 15, Number 2 • 2013 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development | Office of Policy Development and ...»
So what are the possibilities? What are the landscapes, discourses, and actions indicating that there are ways to exist beyond capitalist property relations and their logics? In addressing these questions, Gibson-Graham (2006: xxi) argued for a retheorization of capitalism and encouraged a rethinking of the “tendency to constitute ‘the’ economy as a singular capitalist system or space rather than as a zone of cohabitation and contestation among multiple economic forms.” GibsonGraham suggested that alternative imaginaries, languages, subjects, and collective action are possible to remake the dominance of the hegemonic forms of capitalist economies and the spaces they produce (Gibson-Graham, 2006, 1996). Although the authors of the articles in this Cityscape symposium are not tasked specifically with this challenge, they point to openings and possibilities for progressive policies around housing society’s poor households.
As Fraser, Chaskin, and Bazuin make clear, housing policy alone cannot address the myriad problems associated with poverty in the United States. Their very important piece first and foremost refocuses the discussion on housing policy to ameliorating the experience of poverty (instead of discussing housing policy as an economic development tool). They rightly point out that many of those engaged in mixed-income policies and programs lack a coherent theory of change and a focus on structural factors “from the shifting nature of economic opportunity (and constraint) under global capitalism to the enduring effects of racism and racial inequality and the uneven distribution of quality public goods like education—[that] fundamentally shape individuals’ experiences of poverty and their access to avenues out of it.” Their suggestion is to focus on the holistic community through a system of supports for low-income residents and collectivizing strategies rather than to have an isolated focus on the private ownership of building structures.
Fraser, Chaskin, and Bazuin insist that housing policy discussions should include mention of social services and supports, employment, and neighborhood life—and even a reimagination of the ownership model. They suggest policy that would enable HOPE VI-subsidized renters to purchase
their properties—but not through the standard private property market. Instead, a la GibsonGraham (2006, 1996), Fraser, Chaskin, and Bazuin advocate shared-equity housing and the use of community land trusts to remove the profit motive from the ownership model. This idea is creative and collective, and it challenges the exchange-value dimension of capitalist property relations.
Furthermore, by suggesting childcare cooperatives, community gardens, inclusive neighborhood associations, and other subsidized services and collectivized efforts, they encourage a reimagining of the (neoliberal) ownership model, which they (and scores of others) have indicated contributes to the continued marginalization of the poor population.
In sum, now is an exciting time to engage in questions of neoliberal housing policy that document the deleterious effects of existing policies and the problematic conditions for individuals, neighborhoods, and cities that they produce. Ultimately, though, creatively addressing and replacing the private ownership model of property relations is, I suggest, the way out of the prison.
Author Katherine Hankins is an associate professor in the Department of Geosciences at Georgia State University.
References Blomley, Nicholas. 2004. Unsettling the City: Urban Land and the Politics of Property. New York;
London, United Kingdom: Routledge.
Dikec, Mustafa. 2005. “Space, Politics, and the Political,” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 23: 171–188.
Gibson-Graham, J.K. 2006. Postcapitalist Politics. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.
———. 1996. The End of Capitalism (As We Knew It). Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.
Harvey, David. 1989. The Urban Experience. Baltimore, MD; London, United Kingdom: The Johns Hopkins University Press.
Ranciere, Jacques. 2001. “Ten Theses on Politics,” Theory and Event 5 (3). Available at http://muse.
jhu.edu/login?auth=0&type=summary&url=/journals/theory_and_event/v005/5.3ranciere.html (accessed on June 3, 2013).
Smith, Neil. 2010. Uneven Development: Nature, Capital, and the Production of Space. Athens, GA:
University of Georgia Press.
122 Mixed Messages on Mixed Incomes Commentary These comments relate to the articles in this Cityscape symposium by Fraser, Chaskin, and Bazuin and by Kleinhans and van Ham.
Where Have We Been and Where Do We Go From Here?
Derek Hyra Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Introduction For at least the past 20 years, the urban development field has put forth a substantial effort on investigating the merits (and shortfalls) of mixed-income housing. A key assumption that the field makes is that low-income people somehow benefit when high-, middle-, and low-income people live within the same neighborhood, census tract, or building (Joseph, 2006; Wilson, 1996). Scholars struggle with demonstrating whether this assumption and components of it are correct, however (Bacqué et al., 2011; DeFilippis and Fraser, 2010; Fraser and Kick, 2007; Graves, 2011; Joseph and Chaskin, 2010; Kleinhans, 2004; Tach, 2009). This timely symposium and, specifically, the two preceding articles, attempt to unpack, both domestically and abroad, some of the mechanisms by which mixed-income housing potentially produces favorable outcomes for neighborhoods and, in particular, low-income residents.
My brief remarks present a mixed-income housing background and glean what we have learned from the current mixed-income research. I discuss some of the potential mechanisms that might facilitate mixed-income housing benefits for low-income people. I conclude with a discussion of the likely locations of future mixed-income developments. My hope is to contribute to and broaden the mixed-income housing policy conversation so future policies have a greater potential to facilitate the emergence of more inclusive, sustainable, and equitable living environments (Been et al., 2010).
Background The late-20th century focus on U.S. mixed-income communities grew, in part, out of the desire to ameliorate concentrated inner-city poverty (Jargowsky, 1997; Massey and Denton, 1993; Turner, Popkin, and Rawlings, 2009; Wilson, 1996). Scholars and policymakers were troubled that the number of high-poverty neighborhoods in metropolitan America doubled from 1970 to 1990 Cityscape 123 Cityscape: A Journal of Policy Development and Research • Volume 15, Number 2 • 2013 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development • Office of Policy Development and Research Hyra (Jargowsky, 1997). They were also reacting to neighborhood-effects studies suggesting that concentrated poverty limited, beyond personal and family characteristics, the individual life chances of people who lived in these dire circumstances (Brooks-Gunn, Duncan, and Aber, 1997; Galster, 2010; Jencks and Mayer, 1990). Parallel circumstances, with the rise of socially excluded and impoverished areas, were also occurring in Western Europe (Castañeda, 2012; Hargreaves, 2007;
Musterd, Muire, and Kesteloot, 2006).
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development deployed the main domestic policy attempts to address concentrated poverty in the 1990s and 2000s. These policies included the Empowerment Zone initiative (Hyra, 2008), the Moving to Opportunity demonstration project (Briggs, Popkin, and Goering, 2010), and the Housing Opportunities for People Everywhere (HOPE VI) program (Cisneros and Engdahl, 2009; Goetz, 2011a, 2003; Hyra, 2012a; Vale, 2002).
In addition, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program was also associated, to a lesser extent, with the production of mixed-income housing (Erickson, 2009; Schwartz, 2010). Collectively, but by different policy mechanisms, these U.S.
programs have been associated throughout the country with the production of mixed-income neighborhoods where poverty once concentrated (Goetz, 2011b; Hyra, 2012a).
As Reinout Kleinhans and Maarten van Ham point out in this symposium, the mixed-income housing phenomenon has also been experienced and promoted by national policies in many parts of Western Europe. Homeownership strategies, such as the United Kingdom’s Right to Buy program, and other public housing and neighborhood redevelopment policies, including France’s Zones Franches Urbaines (Free Zones), Solidarité et Renouvellement Urban (Solidarity and Urban Renewal), and the Borloo laws, have been associated with mixed-income neighborhood formation (Blanc, 2010; Bridge, Butler, and Lees, 2012; Davidson, 2010; Dikeç, 2007; Gilbert, 2011).
What Have We Learned About Mixed-Income Housing?
As noted throughout this symposium, the current outcomes related to mixed-income housing have been controversial and heavily scrutinized (for example, Imbroscio, 2008; Smith, 2006). The outcomes have been mainly in two categories thus far: neighborhood-level and people-focused outcomes (Hyra, 2012a). At the neighborhood level, investments associated with the creation of mixed-income communities have been correlated with neighborhood revitalization in some areas (Turbov and Piper, 2005; Zielenbach, 2003; Zienlenbach and Voith, 2010). Some have viewed this pattern of redevelopment as a positive force (for example, Ehrenhalt, 2012; Freeman, 2006;
Vigdor, 2002), whereas others have seen it as related to gentrification and displacement (for example, Bennett, Smith, and Wright, 2006; Goetz, 2011b). At the individual level, perceptions of neighborhood safety seemed to increase for people living in areas that economically transformed from low- to mixed-income neighborhoods (Joseph and Chaskin, 2010) and when individuals move from high-poverty communities to more mixed-income environments (Popkin, Leventhal, and Weismann, 2010). Living next to more affluent people, on average, does not seem to be related to increased employment levels among low-income individuals, however, and meaningful social interactions across race and class are minimal (Chaskin and Joseph, 2011; Chaskin, Khare, and Joseph, 2012; Tach, 2009).
124 Mixed Messages on Mixed Incomes Mixed-Income Housing: Where Have We Been and Where Do We Go From Here?
How Can We Make Mixed-Income Living Situations Better?
Although mixed-income communities have not produced many of the anticipated outcomes in the short run, several potential enhancements can be made to the standard mixed-income community policies that we have witnessed in the past 20 years in North America and Western Europe. By standard, I refer primarily to policies that attempt to deconcentrate poverty from particular places by razing subsidized housing and building replacement mixed-income housing developments serving people with a range of incomes. Although this approach has some merits, it is often implemented in a way that is not very beneficial to low-income tenants and often reproduces, if not exacerbates, existing social and economic inequalities. The following suggestions, some of which parallel and underscore points made by James C. Fraser, Robert J. Chaskin, and Joshua Theodore Bazuin in their article in this symposium, are intended to stimulate community revitalization that maximizes benefits to low-income individuals. These recommendations are based on the scholarly research and my practical experience as a chair of a public housing authority engaged in producing mixed-income developments.
Minimizing Residential Displacement New mixed-income developments rarely replace the number of subsidized units available before redevelopment (Joseph and Chaskin, 2012; Marquis and Ghosh, 2008), and many low-income tenants are displaced when mixed-income development policies are implemented (Fullilove and Wallace, 2011; Goetz, 2011b). Mixed-income development policies should be altered to ensure that, when financially feasible, every affordable unit that is razed to produce mixed-income developments is replaced within or near the new development sites. Replacing razed subsidized units will minimize residential displacement associated with mixed-income development, giving low-income residents the potential to benefit from the regenerating of the community within which they live.
Minimizing Political Displacement Although preventing residential displacement is extremely important within the context of gentrifying mixed-income communities, it is not sufficient for cultivating a social environment in which low-income people can ultimately benefit from urban regeneration and mixed-income housing (Hyra, 2012b). When upper-income people move into low-income areas, the newcomers often, sometimes unintentionally, wrest political power from long-term residents by joining existing or starting new civic associations (Hyra, 2008). The loss of political power among longstanding residents can lead to increased mistrust and civic withdrawal by low-income people, further exacerbating preexisting social inequalities and isolation (Chaskin, Khare, and Joseph, 2012; Knotts and Haspel, 2006; Martin, 2007).
Policies aimed at minimizing political displacement are critical when more affluent people move to a low-rent district to create a mixed-income living environment. Mechanisms include setting aside certain political positions for longstanding residents or creating organizations that have a shared leadership structure between new and existing residents. If low-income people are able to maintain some political power, they will be able to guide the development in a way that recognizes the neighborhood’s multiple tastes, preferences, and perspectives.