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Cityscape: Volume 15 Number 2 | Article 6


Mixed Messages on Mixed Incomes

Volume 15 Number 2

Mark D. Shroder
Michelle P. Matuga

Making Mixed-Income Neighborhoods Work for Low-Income Households

James C. Fraser
Vanderbilt University

Robert J. Chaskin
University of Chicago

Joshua Theodore Bazuin
Vanderbilt University

Mixed-income housing policies such as Housing Opportunities for People Everywhere, or HOPE VI, are an outcome of historical processes that have limited the scope of subsidized public housing in America, leading to disinvestment in government housing programs in favor of reinvestment in market-based solutions. The underlying assumption has been that reinvestment deconcentrates poverty and addresses other perceived failures of traditional public housing. Although they provide some benefits to lower income residents, such initiatives have not produced many of the outcomes for which their advocates had hoped. The goal of this article is to reinvigorate the conversation about how, and if, mixed-income housing policies can be implemented in ways that work with and for the benefit of low-income populations. The article draws on literature about public housing and mixed-income development to posit ways that mixed-income initiatives might be combined with other programmatic efforts to foster upward trajectories for those experiencing poverty and to create public housing environments where people can thrive in all aspects of their lives. In the final section, we reimagine mixed-income housing in ways that could result in more inclusive communities—a reimagination that we suggest may better meet the original goals of such programs without dismissing the inherent limitations of solving entrenched poverty.

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