Indiana University SPEA Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy University of Pennsylvania AIR American University

Poster Paper: Top Down Gentrification: How Prominent Are Social Controls in Government Sponsored Mixed-Income Development?

Saturday, November 14, 2015
Riverfront South/Central (Hyatt Regency Miami)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Kelly Owens, Education Associates and Kenya Covington, California State University, Northridge
The replacement of public housing with government sponsored mixed-income development may bring about neighborhood change, both physical and social. Low-income housing demolition and reconstruction for a large percentage of market rate housing is linked to gentrification. Scholars (Lees, 2008; Hackworth and Smith, 2001) equate programs such as HOPE VI with government sanctioned gentrification, whereby public funding appears to displace low-income families in coveted spaces near central business districts. Redevelopment of public housing in places such as Cabrini Green in Chicago replaced a large percentage of low-income housing on the North Side waterfront, encouraging middle-income families to relocate to previously undesirable neighborhoods. Poverty deconcentration as a goal for national housing efforts under HUD has been attempted in many locations in U.S. metropolitan areas. Currently, approximately 260 Public Housing developments have been converted to mixed-income housing through the Hope VI program (HUD 2015). Anecdotal evidence suggests that new residents moving into mixed-income housing Hope VI projects buy into the location with trepidation about neighboring with government-subsidized residents (Owens 2012). Consequently, to make publicly funded mixed-income development function, one might expect building management to be sensitive to new residents' reservations, perceived or real.  Recent qualitative research (Owens, 2012) concluded that efforts to attract and retain new residents were employed in New Orleans Hope VI development. Observations, interviews and focus group data indicated that an important strategy used included a set of social controls both formal and informal by the housing management agency. Specifically, the study showed that, spatial design, common space utilization, and tenant policies diminished social space accessible to low-income residents, minimized social interaction and essentially quieted the neighborhood.

Utilizing a mixed-methods approach, the authors examine the use of social controls both informal and formal in a random selection of 50 percent of Hope VI development in U.S. metropolitan areas. Residential policies and questionnaires administered to 130 Hope VI Housing Management agencies (Housing Authorities or their designee) will be collected and merged with quantitative data about the Hope VI development and tracts where the mixed-income development exists. The authors expect to identify whether social controls exists or if social controls have ever been utilized more systematically in government sponsored mixed-income development and if so, under which circumstances social controls are observed. Extant literature suggests that gentrification may be a key motivation of social control policy discharge. The authors will identify neighborhood change conditions associated with the period of social control. This research will shed light on government sponsored mixed-income development and instances of social control practices while highlighting its association with the gentrification process.