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Cityscape: Volume 16 Number 2 | Article 10


The goal of Cityscape is to bring high-quality original research on housing and community development issues to scholars, government officials, and practitioners. Cityscape is open to all relevant disciplines, including architecture, consumer research, demography, economics, engineering, ethnography, finance, geography, law, planning, political science, public policy, regional science, sociology, statistics, and urban studies.

Cityscape is published three times a year by the Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R) of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Form Follows Families: Evolution of U.S. Affordable Housing Design and Construction

Volume 16, Number 2

Mark D. Shroder

Michelle P. Matuga

The Smokescreen of Poverty Deconcentration

Edward G. Goetz
University of Minnesota


Should the deconcentration of poverty be a leading objective of federal housing policy? No.

Deconcentrating poverty is a smokescreen. It camouflages forced relocation of low-income households. What do we mean when we talk about deconcentrating poverty? As it has been implemented to date, deconcentration has meant manipulating the spatial arrangement of federally subsidized low-income families to either disperse or dilute poverty. Dispersal is accomplished through (1) pro- viding vouchers to subsidized families who wish to move out of subsidized developments that have concentrations of poverty, or (2) forcing the movement of subsidized families through the demolition and redevelopment of their subsidized communities. Dilution is accomplished through redevelopment that reduces the number of low-income subsidized units in a given site and mixing them with units to be occupied by middle-class households induced into moving in. Thus, although deconcentra- ting poverty has the sound of a sweeping and comprehensive effort, in reality it is much less than that. In the end, it is simply the spatial rearrangement of federally subsidized low-income households.

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