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Cityscape: Volume 15 Number 2 | Article 4


Mixed Messages on Mixed Incomes

Volume 15 Number 2

Mark D. Shroder
Michelle P. Matuga

On Spatial Solutions to Social Problems

James DeFilippis
Rutgers University

These comments relate to the articles in this Cityscape symposium by Levy, McDade, and Bertumen, by Keller et al., and by Kearns et al.

One of the persistent themes in the history of housing policy in the United States is that we almost never do housing policy for its own sake; that is, to provide or ensure the provision of "a decent home and suitable living environment" (to borrow the famous language from the 1949 Housing Act for all people. Instead, housing policy has long been about using housing for other purposes, such as limiting the potential for political unrest in the tenements during the Progressive Era's reforms or absorbing surplus labor in the Great Depression with the initiation of federal public housing in 1937. In this way, the current emphasis on mixed-income housing fits into a long and not particularly glorious history. Mixed-income housing also fits into another, and comparably inglorious, history: that of trying to solve social problems by way of spatial solutions. In this brief commentary, I will discuss the goals of poverty alleviation and socioeconomic interaction and the failures of mixed-income housing policy to achieve its nominal goals.

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