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Cityscape: Volume 15 Number 2 | Article 14


Mixed Messages on Mixed Incomes

Volume 15 Number 2

Mark D. Shroder
Michelle P. Matuga

False Assumptions About Poverty Dispersal Policies

Rachel Garshick Kleit
The Ohio State University

These comments relate to the articles in this Cityscape symposium by Basolo, by Skobba and Goetz, and by Oakley, Ruel, and Reid.

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).

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