«Mixed Messages on Mixed incoMes Volume 15, Number 2 • 2013 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development | Office of Policy Development and ...»
Symposium Organization and Content The symposium in this issue of Cityscape is organized in four topical sections: (1) the expectations and achievements of mixing policies; (2) the realities of implementation; (3) an examination of moving to and living in subsidized private-market rental housing; and (4) a synthesizing examination of these policies based on the articles and suggestions for future initiatives. For the initial three sections, a series of commentaries from housing policy experts follows the articles.
In the first section, Diane K. Levy, Zach McDade, and Kassie Bertumen set the stage for the subsequent articles by reviewing the varying ways in which mixed-income living has been defined, evidence of benefits to adults and children, and the viability of mixed-income housing over time.
They conclude with a discussion of research findings on which consensus and divergences exist, and identify gaps in what we know about the effect of mixed-income developments and incomediverse neighborhoods on disadvantaged households.
Next, JoDee Keller, Janice Laakso, Christine Stevens, and Cathy Tashiro provide a case study of a Pacific Northwest HOPE VI site, exploring the issue of whether multiethnic communities are sustainable through HOPE VI redevelopment. Before redevelopment, the site was a multiethnic community with a strong sense of engagement and cohesion. Findings reveal that, after redevelopment,
CityscapeFraser, Oakley, and Levy
returning residents experienced a diminished sense of community and results are mixed regarding reemergence of community. The authors argue that identifying and meeting needs of diverse populations is important to sustainability of HOPE VI sites, particularly with the country’s increasing diversity. The authors discuss the challenges in building and maintaining community, with recommendations for meeting needs of ethnically diverse residents.
In the final article in this section, Ade Kearns, Martin McKee, Elena Sautkina, George Weeks, and Lyndal Bond present data from interviews with key mixed-housing actors in the United Kingdom— including planners, architects, housing managers, regeneration practitioners, and teachers at local schools—concerning perceived successes and ongoing challenges, particularly regarding sustainability. The authors contend that orthodoxy of mixing policies leads to a form of “tenure blindness.” More specifically, they argue that orthodoxy in policy assumptions and practice results in an unwillingness or inability among the key actors to recognize that taking a mixing approach may not be sufficient for the creation of sustainable communities. James DeFilippis and Hilary Silver provide commentaries on the three articles.
The second section begins with an article by James C. Fraser, Robert J. Chaskin, and Joshua Theodore Bazuin, exploring the idea of mixed-income housing actually becoming home for low-income residents. As they state, research has demonstrated little interaction and community building between low-income households and the more affluent ones within HOPE VI redevelopments. They raise questions about whether such lack of interaction discounts the underlying assumption of mixing policies. The authors conclude by examining the possibilities for creating truly inclusive mixed-income developments that not only serve the housing needs of diverse income groups but also inspire residents to stay and build community.
In the next article, Reinout Kleinhans and Maarten van Ham examine the United Kingdom’s Right to Buy initiative, which is, by far, the largest income-mixing operation in Europe. RTB enables social-housing tenants and other more affluent households to purchase this housing at large discounts. Although the program was not originally intended to be a mixing policy, the selling and reselling of social housing has, in many cases, created income mixing. The authors discuss the outcomes of RTB regarding neighborhood effects and household benefits. Katherine Hankins and Derek Hyra provide commentaries on the two articles in this section.
In the third section, authors turn their attention to the issues of mobility and relocation through subsidized private-market rental housing. Victoria Basolo uses a unique dataset comprising primary survey data and secondary data from multiple sources to examine the range of outcomes for Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCVP) subsidy households under the administration of two public housing authorities in California. In particular, the author examines whether moving with a voucher subsidy results in changes in employment, neighborhood income mix, and school quality.
As with previous studies, findings are mixed and the author discusses the implications.
In the second article, Kimberly Skobba and Edward G. Goetz examine the long-term housing experiences of both subsidized and unsubsidized low-income households in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota. Without housing assistance, participants moved through a wide variety of housing accommodations, often making strategic moves to avoid homelessness or to escape untenable housing and neighborhood conditions. Such strategies almost never resulted in upward mobility,
however. Housing assistance, particularly HCVP vouchers, enabled participants to remain in the private rental market and to avoid lower hierarchy living arrangements. Having a voucher also meant increased residential stability.
Using survey data from a study of 300 former public housing residents in Atlanta, the third and final article of this section, by Deirdre Oakley, Erin Ruel, and Lesley Reid, examines the issue of relocation satisfaction. The situation in Atlanta presents an interesting case because, as of 2010, the city had eliminated all its traditional project-based public housing. Unlike the city’s previous HOPE VI efforts, this final round of demolitions was done under Section 18 of the amended 1937 Housing Act, requiring no immediate plans for redevelopment. Therefore, the only option given to residents was to relocate with a voucher subsidy to private-market rental housing. Findings indicate that level of satisfaction or dissatisfaction largely hinged on the tenants’ age and previous tenure in public housing. Amy T. Khare, Rachel Garshick Kleit, and Sudhir Venkatesh provide responses to the articles in this section.
In the final section, Mark L. Joseph provides a transatlantic, synthesizing discussion of mixing policies within the broader context of affordable housing and diverse, healthy communities. In doing so, Joseph comes back to the overarching societal question of which institutions should be responsible for delivery of a needed public good like affordable housing: Is the private sector really suited for this responsibility, given the overall objective of return on capital investment? Are mixing strategies sustainable over time? Joseph also addresses important questions about the range of benefits and deficiencies emerging from mixing strategies. Beyond the question of who benefits from mixedincome developments are questions of how different stakeholders—developers, city agencies, financiers, and residents across income groups—benefit.
Concluding Thoughts From the Editors The symposium in this issue of Cityscape, broad as it is, is not comprehensive. Although the articles address the theoretical, policy, and practice questions, other important issues remain. As the body of work on HOPE VI and similar mixing initiatives has grown in the United States and Europe—in particular the United Kingdom and the Netherlands—questions have shifted to focus more broadly on reciprocal effects, with the recognition that influence can run in more than one direction. More specifically, in addition to examining whether and how lower income residents have been affected by higher income neighbors, researchers are devoting growing attention to ways in which lower income neighbors might influence those residents who were better off economically. Hand in hand with such a question is another: Do residents interact across economic lines and, if they do, are the interactions positive or negative? Questions related to mechanisms of influence and change have begun to shift from those related to person-to-person effects to ways in which some residents might have positive influence on the surrounding environment: Do higher income residents’ (assumed) expectations and demands on property management and city services bring benefits to all residents?
Alternatively, note that social mix in the United Kingdom and mixed-income housing in the United States are explicitly sociospatial strategies that seek to attract capital investment to places that oftentimes have been associated with gentrification (Bridge, Butler, and Lees, 2012; Lees, 2008).
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Beyond examining physical displacement, a growing body of research has examined the social relations among multiple tenure and income groups (Chaskin and Joseph, 2010; Cole and Goodchild, 2001; Duke, 2009; Fraser et al., in press; Kipfer, 2009; Kleit, 2011). Sometimes, social mix is a problem for low-income households. Cheshire (2012: 24), addressing social mix, stated that, “while poor neighborhoods may not be ‘attractive,’ they are cheap; they have attributes such as access to cheap takeouts and neighbours with similar problems and needs who may have relevant and useful contacts.” Galés (2012: 27) added that “most urban scholars are familiar with the idea that when very different social or ethnic groups live in the same building or the same neighborhood, this rarely leads to social mixing but rather to strategies of avoidance and distinction.” Although these perspectives represent a lack of confidence that social mixing can have positive effects, other treatments in the United Kingdom suggest that neighborhoods marked by social mixing may enjoy a political economy-of-place benefit; that is, cities with a significant middle-income population are more likely to provide needed services and economic development that enhance neighborhood life.
More recent questions have also focused in greater detail on the supports that might be necessary to create conditions in which (positive) influence among neighbors might occur. As research started to show less interaction across lines of economic difference and tenure than had been assumed, attention turned to the structures that might be necessary to encourage interactions. Interest has grown about the effects of resident-based organizational and governance structures and informal opportunities for socializing. How to develop community intentionally remains an open question.
Additional questions of considerable importance include the following. How do mixed-income developments fare over time in terms of the resident base? Are structures well maintained physically and financially over time?
Acknowledgments The guest editors thank all the authors of this issue and the editorial staff at Cityscape for their contributions.
Guest Editors James C. Fraser is an associate professor in the Department of Human and Organizational Development at Vanderbilt University.
Deirdre Oakley is an associate professor in the Department of Sociology at Georgia State University.
Diane K. Levy is a senior research associate in the Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center at the Urban Institute.
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