«Mixed Messages on Mixed incoMes Volume 15, Number 2 • 2013 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development | Office of Policy Development and ...»
200 Mixed Messages on Mixed Incomes Market-Driven Public Housing Reforms: Inadequacy for Poverty Alleviation Chaskin, Robert J., Mark L. Joseph, Sara Voelker, and Amy Dworsky. 2012. “Public Housing Transformation and Resident Relocation: Comparing Destinations and Household Characteristics in Chicago,” Cityscape 14 (1): 183–214.
DeFilippis, James, and Jim Fraser. 2010. “Why Do We Want Mixed-Income Housing and Neighborhoods?” In Critical Urban Theory, edited by Jonathan S. Davies and David L. Imbroscio. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press: 135–147.
Dreier, Peter. 2006. “Federal Housing Subsidies: Who Benefits and Why?” In A Right to Housing:
Foundation for a New Social Agenda, edited by Rachel G. Bratt, Michael Stone, and Chester Hartman.
Philadelphia: Temple University Press: 105–139.
Ellickson, Robert C. 2010. “The False Promise of the Mixed-Income Housing Project,” UCLA Law Review 57: 983–1021.
Erikson, David. 2009. The Housing Policy Revolution: Networks and Neighborhoods. Washington, DC:
Urban Institute Press.
Fraser, Jim, James DeFilippis, and Josh Bazuin. 2012. “HOPE VI: Calling for Modesty in Its Claims.” In Mixed Communities: Gentrification by Stealth? edited by Gary Bridge, Tim Butler, and Loretta Lees.
London, United Kingdom: The Policy Press: 209–229.
Fraser, Jim, Deirdre Oakley, and Joshua Bazuin. 2012. “Public Ownership and Private Profit in Housing,” Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society 5 (3): 397–412.
Glaeser, Edward, and Joseph Gyourko. 2008. Rethinking Federal Housing Policy: How To Make Housing Plentiful and Affordable. Washington, DC: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research.
Goetz, Edward G. 2013. New Deal Ruins: Race, Economic Justice, & Public Housing Policy. Ithaca, NY:
Cornell University Press.
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Hacker, Jacob. 2002. The Divided Welfare State: The Battle Over Public and Private Social Benefits in the United States. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Hackworth, Jason. 2009. “Destroyed by HOPE: Public Housing, Neoliberalism and Progressive Housing Activism in the U.S.” In Where the Other Half Lives: Lower Income Housing in a Neoliberal World, edited by Sarah Glynn. London, United Kingdom: Pluto Press: 232–256.
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Hays, R. Allen. 2012. The Federal Government & Urban Housing, 3rd ed. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.
Husock, Howard. 2003. America’s Trillion-Dollar Housing Mistake. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee.
Hyra, Derek S. 2012. “Conceptualizing the New Urban Renewal: Comparing the Past to the Present,” Urban Affairs Review 48 (4): 498–527.
Imbroscio, David L. 2011. “Beyond Mobility: The Limits of Liberal Urban Policy,” Journal of Urban Affairs 34 (1): 1–20.
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Joseph, Mark L., Robert J. Chaskin, and Henry S. Webber. 2007. “The Theoretical Basis for Addressing Poverty Through Mixed-Income Development,” Urban Affairs Review 42 (3): 369–409.
Lees, Loretta. 2008. “Gentrification and Social Mixing: Towards an Inclusive Urban Renaissance?” Urban Studies 45 (12): 2449-2470.
Lipman, Pauline. 2008. “Mixed-Income Schools and Housing: Advancing the Neoliberal Urban Agenda,” Journal of Educational Policy 23 (2): 119–134.
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Popkin, Sue J., Bruce Katz, Mary Cunningham, Karen D. Brown, Jeremy Gustafson, and Margery Austin Turner. 2004. A Decade of HOPE VI: Research Findings and Policy Challenges. Washington, DC: Urban Institute Press; Brookings Institution Press.
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Smith, Janet L. 2006. “Public Housing Transformation: Evolving National Policy.” In Where Are Poor People To Live?: Transforming Public Housing Communities, edited by Larry Bennett, Janet Smith, and Patricia A. Wright. Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe: 19–40.
202 Mixed Messages on Mixed Incomes Market-Driven Public Housing Reforms: Inadequacy for Poverty Alleviation Smith, Janet L., and David Stovall. 2008. “‘Coming Home’ to New Homes and New Schools: Critical Race Theory and the New Politics of Containment,” Journal of Education Policy 23 (2): 135–152.
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False Assumptions About Poverty Dispersal Policies Rachel Garshick Kleit The Ohio State University The notion of the dispersal of poverty was in some ways an argument about the power of place.
Some neighborhoods were places lacking social and economic opportunity. The people in such neighborhoods lived in concentrated poverty. If the problem was poverty concentration, then the answer must be dispersal. As Victoria Basolo (this symposium in Cityscape) points out, the policy world came to this answer in the early 1990s with little evidence that dispersal would really reduce poverty for people. At the time, the struggle to understand the causes of poverty was in earnest, as Basolo summarizes, “These arguments concerning the causes of poverty were not merely academic, because the persistence of poverty was a social problem without an effective policy.” Concerns about poor places arose concurrently, especially concerns regarding what to do about dilapidated public housing (National Commission on Severely Distressed Public Housing, 1992).
If poverty reduction for people were our only goal, then we could say that, in fact, poverty dispersal policies such as HOPE VI (or Housing Opportunities for People Everywhere), the Moving to Opportunity (MTO) demonstration, or even the Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCVP) have not been successful in that arena—most studies show that people involved in these programs do not become more economically secure (see the review by Basolo in this symposium). By definition, however, moving people out of public housing and rebuilding it as mixed-income housing does have a poverty reducing impact on place. Policy success in for poor places has occurred, perhaps, at the expense of policy success for poor people.
Nonetheless, policy goals have created and perpetuated a logic model for these programs as reducers of individual and family poverty that rests on four false assumptions that are necessary for success.
1. Moving always creates upward mobility and improves neighborhoods.
2. People living in poverty make housing decisions in a hierarchical manner that considers neighborhood before other concerns.
3. When given a choice, people living in assisted housing will choose to move away from familiar neighborhoods.
4. When given a choice, people living in assisted housing will all understand opportunity the same way, behave in the same way, and make “opportunity” moves.
The three articles that this commentary addresses tear down the assumptions of this program model.
Taken together, the articles suggest that our goals are, at best, misguided and, at worst, negligent.
Basolo demonstrates that HCVP moves do not necessarily improve neighborhoods for these families.
Although movers nominally did move to places with slightly lower poverty (less than a 1-percent reduction) and did improve the quality of schools for their children, both changes were too minor to indicate noticeable improvements in quality. In short, on average, and controlling for other factors, movers’ neighborhoods are no different from those who do not move, movers are no more likely to be employed, and the schools that movers’ children attend are no better than those of nonmovers’ children. Thus, Basolo concludes, moving did not improve things—or not in any way that we can observe from afar. The already relatively low poverty rates in the areas studied are likely responsible for the lack of neighborhood improvement. The average poverty level in the areas studied was 14.7 percent, much less than the usual 20.0-and-less rate for a low-poverty neighborhood. The study points out that moves are not going to automatically improve neighborhood quality if poverty is already fairly low. In addition, simply moving is not going to overcome the history of racial residential inequality that has produced neighborhood differentials in school quality and employment. These issues are all larger structural issues that are not directly influenced by a move alone. As MTO results suggest, a move with counseling can help move people to what the policy considers better neighborhoods (Briggs, Popkin, & Goering, 2010). The outcomes the policy cares about are not proximate to moving, however. For example, expecting a move—in the absence of a job change—to produce better employment outcomes is a flawed program model.
Moves do not always create upward mobility, negating the first of the four assumptions.
From the outside looking in, as Basolo points out, we do not know how families are making decisions. They are meeting their own needs, which are unknown. Kimberly Skobba and Edward G.
Goetz suggest these preferences concern relationships rather than place. In fact, previous research suggests what Skobba and Goetz point out: poor families move for reasons having nothing to do with neighborhoods or many of the concerns that policy puts at the forefront. Although some moves that poor households make can be “upward,” resulting in improvements in family circumstances, such as better opportunities for children, less household stress, and increased safety (Buerkle & Christenson, 1999), these households often face involuntary, “forced” moves—such as those moves that occur because of public housing redevelopment, eviction, or foreclosure (Goetz, 2003; Pettit, Comey, & Grosz, 2011)—or they make “coping” moves that are dictated by other negative circumstances beyond their control (Buerkle & Christenson, 1999; Kearns & Smith, 1994;
Skelton, 2002). Severely disadvantaged households can experience a combination of economic disadvantage, restricted social and financial opportunities, and general social isolation, and they may live in contexts that are socially and financially unreliable and unpredictable (Steele & Sherman, 1999). Without the ingredients that produce the much more secure lives enjoyed by the relatively wealthy (access to childcare, health care, stable employment, and housing), poor households face a constant series of complex dilemmas and must respond nimbly to shifts in stability and economic shocks. Briggs, Popkin, and Goering (2010: 86) suggested that moves in the MTO program are “moves to security”; that is, the vouchers used in the dispersal program were used to ameliorate 206 Mixed Messages on Mixed Incomes False Assumptions About Poverty Dispersal Policies the stresses of their experiences with housing. Skobba and Goetz are eloquent in their reminder of these dynamics. Given these considerations, why would we create a policy based on moving that does not concurrently address the extreme stress and housing instability of households living in poverty? Families are not making decisions in a hierarchical manner that considers neighborhood first, voiding the second assumption. Nor are they considering opportunity as policy conceives it when they move, suggesting the fourth assumption is also false.