«Mixed Messages on Mixed incoMes Volume 15, Number 2 • 2013 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development | Office of Policy Development and ...»
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28 Mixed Messages on Mixed Incomes Ethnically Diverse HOPE VI Redevelopments: A Community Case Study From the Pacific Northwest JoDee Keller Pacific Lutheran University Janice Laakso Christine Stevens Cathy Tashiro University of Washington, Tacoma Abstract The authors examine a Pacific Northwest Housing Opportunities for People Everywhere (HOPE VI) site that, before redevelopment, was a vibrant, multiethnic community where neighbors united to address personal and community problems. We explore residents’ sense of community, trust, feelings toward neighbors, and views about diversity before and after redevelopment. Findings suggest that residents valued diversity before redevelopment and experienced a diminished sense of community after redevelopment. Results are mixed regarding the re-emergence of community. Identifying and meeting the needs of diverse populations is important to mixed-income HOPE VI sites, particularly with the country’s increasing diversity. Challenges in building and maintaining community are discussed, with recommendations for meeting the needs of ethnically diverse residents.
Introduction The Housing Opportunities for People Everywhere (HOPE VI) program originally was developed to address concerns with severely distressed public housing. Although the goals of the program have evolved and expanded over time, Salama (1999), through a review of legislative history and of U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Notices of Funding Availability, distilled a list of the program’s major objectives. They include reducing the concentration of low-income
residents, creating mixed-income communities, serving diverse households, promoting family self-sufficiency, building sustainable communities, and involving residents in planning and implementation.
Extensive HOPE VI research has identified a number of wide-ranging outcomes (Hanlon 2010;
Popkin, Eiseman, and Cove, 2004; Popkin et al., 2004). General outcomes include significant improvements in the physical quality of housing; increases in residents’ incomes, employment, and education (not surprising, because mixed-income communities have replaced exclusively lowincome communities); lower crime rates; an increase in racial diversity; and improved property management (Fraser and Nelson, 2008; Holin et al., 2003; Popkin, Levy, and Buron, 2009; Turbov and Piper, 2005). Other studies have found mixed results on the health and well-being of residents, however (Curley, 2009; Goetz, 2010). Case studies of individual sites are less positive and raise concerns about residents’ loss of social networks, instrumental support, and access to supportive services (Clampet-Lundquist, 2004; Curley, 2009; Goetz, 2010, 2002; Keller, 2012). Although an initial core principle expressed by architects of the HOPE VI program was the expectation that mixed-income communities would increase the social capital of poor residents, little evidence suggests that this outcome occurs (Curley, 2009; Goetz, 2010, 2002), and mixed-income communities may actually reduce social capital in formerly low-income communities (Clampet-Lundquist, 2004; Curley, 2010; Laakso, 2013).
Although HOPE VI sites have been studied extensively, it often is beyond the scope of the research to determine whether changes attributed to HOPE VI can be sustained over time and whether even the communities are viable. Increasingly, discussions have emerged about the program’s feasibility (Abravanel, Levy, and McFarland, 2009; Holin, et al., 2003; Wexler, 2001). Indeed, perhaps growing out of this concern, President Obama replaced HOPE VI with the Choice Neighborhoods program (HUD, 2011), which seeks to directly build on but greatly expand the aims of HOPE VI.
Choice Neighborhoods focuses on the broader community and on services beyond housing, particularly services and amenities that have wide appeal across incomes, including schools, retail, and parks (HUD, 2011). What about the communities that have been redeveloped under HOPE VI?
What are their prospects to maintain mixed-income and increasingly multiethnic communities?
Challenges of Mixed-Income, Mixed-Housing, and Multiethnic Communities Although focus on multiethnic aspects of HOPE VI communities has been limited, the literature on income diversity can illustrate some parallels to the benefits and challenges of promoting ethnic diversity. A central aim of HOPE VI was to create and maintain mixed-income communities. Although such communities were viewed as being beneficial for low-income residents because they could foster instrumental relationships in which low-income residents might find employment or other resources, these instrumental relationships may not have emerged for a number of reasons (Curley, 2009; Goetz, 2010, 2002). In fact, low-income residents may have had more instrumental relationships and stronger social ties within their former communities (Joseph, 2008; Keller, 2011;