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Spring 2013   


        Confronting Concentrated Poverty With a Mixed-Income Strategy
        Mixed-Income Community Dynamics: Five Insights From Ethnography
        Inclusionary Zoning and Mixed-Income Communities

Emergence of the Mixed-Income Strategy

The strategy of mixing incomes to counter residential segregation and concentrated poverty gained momentum with significant developments in housing law and policies, court decisions, dispersal strategies, and local regulatory practices. Highlights of this history include:

  • 1940s and 1950s: The large subdivisions built during the housing boom mostly excluded minorities.

  • 1968: The Fair Housing Act prohibited racially restrictive covenants and lender redlining practices.

  • 1969: The Brooke Amendments prohibited public housing agencies (PHAs) from setting minimum rents and capped rent payments for public housing residents at 25 percent of household income, making public housing more affordable for extremely poor households but reducing PHAs’ operating revenues.

  • 1970s: Inclusionary zoning (IZ) increasingly became a local tool for controlling and managing growth and affordable housing, resulting in mixed-income development (See “Inclusionary Zoning and Mixed-Income Communities,” p.17).1 As federal funding for housing declined in the 1980s and the shortage of affordable housing grew more acute, IZ programs became more widespread.2

  • 1974: An amendment to the Housing Act of 1937 required PHAs to house low-income families with a wider range of incomes to increase revenues and lower federal subsidies.

  • 1975: South Burlington County NAACP v. Mount Laurel Township (Mount Laurel II) forbade the use of local zoning regulations to prevent construction of affordable housing units in affluent areas.3

  • 1976: Gautreaux et al. v. Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) prohibited CHA from building new public housing in mostly black areas of the city unless an equal number of units were built in racially diverse neighborhoods. Dense concentrations of public housing, including high-rises, were also prohibited.4

  • 1980s: Dispersal strategies for deconcentrating poverty began when Section 8 tenant-based rental vouchers enabled assisted households to secure housing in their neighborhood of choice. An outgrowth of the Gautreaux ruling, the voucher program also provided supportive services that helped public housing residents move to better neighborhoods.

  • 1981: An amendment to the Housing Act of 1937 limited participation in Section 8 and public housing programs to households earning less than 50 percent of the area median income, once again reinforcing the concentration of poverty.5

  • 1993: The HOPE VI program began demolishing the nation’s most distressed public housing and replacing it with mixed-income housing.6

  • 1994: The Moving to Opportunity program provided vouchers, counseling, and assistance to public housing residents who chose to relocate to neighborhoods with lower levels of poverty.

  • 2000: HUD’s Rule to Deconcentrate Poverty and Promote Integration in Public Housing required PHAs to bring higher-income tenants into lower-income developments and lower-income tenants into higher-income developments.7


  1. Innovative Housing Initiative. 2010. “Inclusionary Housing Survey: Measures of Effectiveness.”
  2. Alan Mallach and Nico Calavita. 2010. “United States: From Radical Innovation to Mainstream Housing Policy,” in Inclusionary Housing in International Perspective, Nico Calavia and Alan Mallach, eds., Cambridge, MA: Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, 15–77.
  3. New Jersey Digital Legal Library. n.d. “History of the Mount Laurel Decisions.” Accessed 7 January 2013.
  4. Stanford University Archives. n.d. “The Gautreaux Legacy.” Accessed 11 January 2013.
  5. Alistair Smith. 2002. “Mixed-Income Housing Developments: Promise and Reality,” Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University and Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation.
  6. Alex Schwartz and Kian Tajbakhsh. 1997. “Mixed-Income Housing: Unanswered Questions ,” Cityscape: A Journal of Policy Development and Research 3:2, 71–92; Susan J. Popkin, Larry F. Buron, Diane K. Levy, and Mary K. Cunningham. 2000. “The Gautreaux Legacy: What Might Mixed-Income and Dispersal Strategies Mean for the Poorest Public Housing Tenants?Housing Policy Debate 11:4, 911–42.
  7. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. 2000. “Rule to Deconcentrate Poverty and Promote Integration in Public Housing ,” Federal Register 65:247, 22 December, 81214–29.

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