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Cityscape: A Journal Of Policy Development and Research

The latest issue of Cityscape: A Journal of Policy Development and Research features a symposium about mixed-income housing in the United States and Europe.

Symposium Organization and Content

The symposium in this issue of Cityscape is organized in four topical sections: (1) the expectations and achievements of mixing policies; (2) the realities of implementation; (3) an examination of moving to and living in subsidized private-market rental housing; and (4) a synthesizing examina­tion of these policies based on the articles and suggestions for future initiatives. For the initial three sections, a series of commentaries from housing policy experts follows the articles.

In the first section, Diane K. Levy, Zach McDade, and Kassie Bertumen set the stage for the sub­sequent articles by reviewing the varying ways in which mixed-income living has been defined, evidence of benefits to adults and children, and the viability of mixed-income housing over time. They conclude with a discussion of research findings on which consensus and divergences exist, and identify gaps in what we know about the effect of mixed-income developments and income-diverse neighborhoods on disadvantaged households.

Next, JoDee Keller, Janice Laakso, Christine Stevens, and Cathy Tashiro provide a case study of a Pacific Northwest HOPE VI site, exploring the issue of whether multiethnic communities are sus­tainable through HOPE VI redevelopment. Before redevelopment, the site was a multiethnic com­munity with a strong sense of engagement and cohesion. Findings reveal that, after redevelopment, returning residents experienced a diminished sense of community and results are mixed regarding reemergence of community. The authors argue that identifying and meeting needs of diverse popu­lations is important to sustainability of HOPE VI sites, particularly with the country’s increasing diversity. The authors discuss the challenges in building and maintaining community, with recom­mendations for meeting needs of ethnically diverse residents.

In the final article in this section, Ade Kearns, Martin McKee, Elena Sautkina, George Weeks, and Lyndal Bond present data from interviews with key mixed-housing actors in the United Kingdom—including planners, architects, housing managers, regeneration practitioners, and teachers at local schools—concerning perceived successes and ongoing challenges, particularly regarding sustain­ability. The authors contend that orthodoxy of mixing policies leads to a form of “tenure blind­ness.” More specifically, they argue that orthodoxy in policy assumptions and practice results in an unwillingness or inability among the key actors to recognize that taking a mixing approach may not be sufficient for the creation of sustainable communities. James DeFilippis and Hilary Silver provide commentaries on the three articles.

The second section begins with an article by James C. Fraser, Robert J. Chaskin, and Joshua Theo­dore Bazuin, exploring the idea of mixed-income housing actually becoming home for low-income residents. As they state, research has demonstrated little interaction and community building be­tween low-income households and the more affluent ones within HOPE VI redevelopments. They raise questions about whether such lack of interaction discounts the underlying assumption of mixing policies. The authors conclude by examining the possibilities for creating truly inclusive mixed-income developments that not only serve the housing needs of diverse income groups but also inspire residents to stay and build community.

In the next article, Reinout Kleinhans and Maarten van Ham examine the United Kingdom’s Right to Buy initiative, which is, by far, the largest income-mixing operation in Europe. RTB enables social-housing tenants and other more affluent households to purchase this housing at large dis­counts. Although the program was not originally intended to be a mixing policy, the selling and reselling of social housing has, in many cases, created income mixing. The authors discuss the outcomes of RTB regarding neighborhood effects and household benefits. Katherine Hankins and Derek Hyra provide commentaries on the two articles in this section.

In the third section, authors turn their attention to the issues of mobility and relocation through subsidized private-market rental housing. Victoria Basolo uses a unique dataset comprising pri­mary survey data and secondary data from multiple sources to examine the range of outcomes for Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCVP) subsidy households under the administration of two public housing authorities in California. In particular, the author examines whether moving with a voucher subsidy results in changes in employment, neighborhood income mix, and school quality. As with previous studies, findings are mixed and the author discusses the implications.

In the second article, Kimberly Skobba and Edward G. Goetz examine the long-term housing experiences of both subsidized and unsubsidized low-income households in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota. Without housing assistance, participants moved through a wide variety of housing ­accommodations, often making strategic moves to avoid homelessness or to escape untenable housing and neighborhood conditions. Such strategies almost never resulted in upward mobility, however. Housing assistance, particularly HCVP vouchers, enabled participants to remain in the private rental market and to avoid lower hierarchy living arrangements. Having a voucher also meant increased residential stability.

Using survey data from a study of 300 former public housing residents in Atlanta, the third and final article of this section, by Deirdre Oakley, Erin Ruel, and Lesley Reid, examines the issue of relocation satisfaction. The situation in Atlanta presents an interesting case because, as of 2010, the city had eliminated all its traditional project-based public housing. Unlike the city’s previous HOPE VI efforts, this final round of demolitions was done under Section 18 of the amended 1937 Housing Act, re­quiring no immediate plans for redevelopment. Therefore, the only option given to residents was to relocate with a voucher subsidy to private-market rental housing. Findings indicate that level of satisfaction or dissatisfaction largely hinged on the tenants’ age and previous tenure in public hous­ing. Amy T. Khare, Rachel Garshick Kleit, and Sudhir Venkatesh provide responses to the articles in this section.

In the final section, Mark L. Joseph provides a transatlantic, synthesizing discussion of mixing policies within the broader context of affordable housing and diverse, healthy communities. In doing so, Joseph comes back to the overarching societal question of which institutions should be responsible for delivery of a needed public good like affordable housing: Is the private sector really suited for this responsibility, given the overall objective of return on capital investment? Are mixing strategies sustainable over time? Joseph also addresses important questions about the range of benefits and deficiencies emerging from mixing strategies. Beyond the question of who benefits from mixed-income developments are questions of how different stakeholders—developers, city agencies, ­financiers, and residents across income groups—benefit.