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Cityscape Spotlights Mixed-Income Housing

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August 21, 2013  

Cityscape Spotlights Mixed-Income Housing

The latest issue of Cityscape: A Journal of Policy Development and Research features a symposium about mixed-income housing in the United States and Europe. Guest editors James C. Fraser, Deirdre Oakley, and Diane K. Levy briefly discuss the history of public housing and the evolution of mixed-income redevelopments in the United States and comparable programs in the United Kingdom. The symposium provides readers with various viewpoints on mixed-income housing and the creation of diverse, healthy communities and also tackles the issue of responsibility for the provision of housing for low-income individuals.

Diane K. Levy, Zach McDade, and Kassie Bertumen prepare readers for subsequent articles in the issue by reviewing the literature to define terms relevant to mixed-income housing, evaluate hypothesized benefits to low-income households and income-diverse neighborhoods against available evidence, and consider how the goals of desegregation and poverty alleviation might best be achieved.


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JoDee Keller, Janice Laakso, Christine Stevens, and Cathy Tashiro examine a HOPE VI site in the Pacific Northwest using interviews and focus groups with current and previous residents of the multi-ethnic community. They evaluate residents’ sense of community before and after redevelopment and find a weakened sense of community post-HOPE VI.

Ade Kearns, Martin McKee, Elena Sautkina, George Weeks, and Lyndal Bond discuss the elements of “mixed-tenure orthodoxy,” a set of policy objectives that are generally accepted among planners and policymakers in the United Kingdom: improved housing and environmental quality, positive social effects, enhanced economic opportunity, increased sustainability, and sociospatial integration. The authors examine these objectives against outcomes in three housing developments in Scotland and find mixed results.

James C. Fraser, Robert J. Chaskin, and Joshua Theodore Bazuin review literature on public and mixed-income housing and offer insight on ways that mixed-income housing developments may be combined with other strategies, including vocational training programs, homeownership opportunities, social supports like child care, and efforts to encourage social interaction, to improve the lives of low-income households in assisted housing. The authors discuss existing programs at several HOPE VI sites as well as potential policies to promote higher wages and affordable housing options.

Reinout Kleinhans and Maarten van Ham examine mixed-income housing policies in Europe, primarily the Right to Buy (RTB) program in the United Kingdom, which allows tenants of social housing to purchase their homes at reduced rates. The researchers delve into neighborhood outcomes of the program and find both positive and negative results in terms of neighborhood stability, communication between households of different incomes, and other criteria.

Victoria Basolo argues that, in contrast to the extensive analysis of participants of the Moving to Opportunity program in the United States, little is known about outcomes for Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCVP) participants. Basolo uses survey data for HCVP participants under two California housing authorities, along with additional data, to analyze individual- and neighborhood-level outcomes. The study shows that movers did not fare better than nonmovers, and had lower employment but had access to better schools and lived in lower-poverty neighborhoods after moving.

Kimberly Skobba and Edward G. Goetz study mobility patterns over the course of a lifetime for a small sample of very low-income households that receive or are on the waiting list for housing assistance in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota. While the small sample does not allow the results to be generalized to all low-income households, the study suggests that interpersonal relationships may be more important than neighborhood environment in explaining mobility choices of low-income families.

Deirdre Oakley, Erin Ruel, and Lesley Reid use longitudinal data to shed light on resident satisfaction with housing relocation due to the demolition of public housing developments in Atlanta, Georgia. The study complements previous findings of high levels of attachment among the hard-to-house but also highlights mixed results regarding mover satisfaction and destination neighborhood characteristics.

Mark L. Joseph summarizes findings from the symposium, which he characterizes as focusing on poverty deconcentration through dispersal and mixed-income development. He discusses the challenges associated with eliminating areas of concentrated poverty and his own strategies for improving policies that tackle these issues.

Peer commentary on several articles in this symposium adds depth to the discussion of mixed income housing in the United States and Europe.

In Cityscape’s “Point of Contention” section, Richard K. Green, Donald Haurin, David R. Barker, and Sandra J. Newman and C. Scott Holupka offer expert viewpoints on the relationship between homeownership and child well-being.

This issue also features short analytical works, including “Policy Brief: The Federal Housing Administration and Long-Term Affordable Homeownership Programs” by Edwin Stromberg and Brian Stromberg; “Data Shop: New Data on Local Vacant Property Registration Ordinances” by Yun Sang Lee, Patrick Terranova, and Dan Immergluck; “Graphic Detail: Visualizing Same-Sex Couple Household Data With Linked Micromaps” by Brent D. Mast; “Impact: Refinancing Hospital Loans” by Alastair McFarlane; “Industrial Revolution: Smart-Grid Technologies in Housing” by M.G. Matt Syal and Kweku Ofei-Amoh; and “SpAM: Changing Geographic Units and the Analytical Consequences: An Example of Simpson's Paradox” by Ron Wilson.

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