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Cityscape: Volume 15 Number 2 | Article 8


Mixed Messages on Mixed Incomes

Volume 15 Number 2

Mark D. Shroder
Michelle P. Matuga

Housing Policy Possibilities in the Prison of Property Relations: A Commentary

Katherine Hankins
Georgia State University

These comments relate to the articles in this Cityscape symposium by Fraser, Chaskin, and Bazuin and by Kleinhans and van Ham.

At the current conjuncture of neoliberal capitalism in the United States and in the United Kingdom, housing policy continues to undergo transformations that increasingly make poor households vulnerable while emphasizing (and enhancing) the value (and values) of the private property market. As the conveners of this symposium explore, a variety of housing policies have been rolled out in the past several decades to deconcentrate urban poor populations from public housing (in the United States) or social housing (in the United Kingdom) projects. Such policies include dispersing them into mixed-income Housing Opportunities for People Everywhere (HOPE VI) developments or distributing housing vouchers for market-rate rental units (in the United States), or providing opportunities for residents of social housing to purchase their units with the Right to Buy (RTB) program (in the United Kingdom). These transformations have raised important questions about the ability of a marketized social safety net to deliver housing as a social good and the effects of these policies on poor urban households, on neighborhoods, and on cities more broadly. As the articles in this section of the symposium reveal, the assumption that mixed-income housing is a desirable policy with beneficial outcomes requires interrogation. Before turning to the careful arguments that James C. Fraser, Robert J. Chaskin, and Joshua Theodore Bazuin and that Reinout Kleinhans and Maarten van Ham offer, I first situate my discussion of housing policy in terms of the "prison" of property relations.

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