Converting US Public Housing to Real Estate: At What Cost and Who Pays?

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 17:45
Oral Presentation
Janet L. SMITH, University of Illinois, USA
Neighborhoods are real places where people live, work, and play. They also function as sites for launching policy interventions, providing a space to implement and study change—and hopefully improve things—over time. In this presentation, I examine current efforts in the US to promote economic and cultural diversity in public housing transformation through income mixing, as a means to reduce “neighborhood effects” associated with poverty. Even if with good intention, I argue these strategies are grounded in assumptions that continue to privilege homogeneity and specifically higher income spaces and people. The results are policies and programs (strategies) that restrict poor people when planning for intentional economically diverse neighborhoods, evident in how we redevelop public housing and integrate affordable housing into higher income development. Furthermore, I demonstrate how in these strategies these new "neighborhoods" function as critical urban commodities. As spaces that have always in some way mediated social reproduction and capitalism, this current period presents specific challenges for neighborhoods and their occupants, who are now both consumers and the consumed, as strategies intended to promote diversity create spaces that do both.