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In the neighborhoods surrounding four highly regarded public housing redevelopment projects, median household incomes and workforce partic- ipation rates rose dramatically, reflecting an influx of higher-income, working people. The market- rate housing successfully attracted and retained both renters and homebuyers with choices, and increases in rents over time indicate that market demand is robust. As a result, new, unsubsidized investment is now under way in the surround- ing neighborhoods. For example, once Atlanta’s Centennial Place attracted market-rate renters, developers began investing in loft conversions and condominium developments nearby, bringing significant home ownership back to the neighbor- hood (Turbov and Piper 2005).

using their assistance, and an opportunity to achieve meaningful income mixing may be lost. There- fore, the redevelopment of distressed public and assisted housing projects can and should be more effectively linked to a larger affordable housing strategy that expands the availability of low-rent options in healthy neighborhoods throughout the city, using tools such as inclusionary zoning, LIHTCs, HOME and local affordable housing trust fund resources, project-based vouchers, and voucher mobility counseling.

Housing Assistance, Smart Growth, and Environmentally Sustainable Development

that had long been given up as hopelessly distressed. Middle- and high-income households—including homebuyers—are moving in, market rents and sales prices are rising, and new private-sector investment in both homes and retail businesses is taking root. However, the magnitude of these neighborhood improvements varies widely across sites and, unfortu- nately, not enough research has rigorously addressed the issue of neighborhood impacts to pinpoint the determinants of success. Based on research to date, cities should choose sites for redevelopment where the blighting effect of distressed public housing is substantial, and where conditions seem ripe for achiev- ing spillover benefits. And public housing redevel- opment should be implemented in conjunction with other city investments to capitalize on locational and market assets and opportunities. In addition, cities should begin experimenting with innovative strategies for deconcentrating high-poverty projects that do not necessarily require demolition and replacement, possibly using a combination of income mixing and new acquisition.

In communities where the housing market is hot—with low vacancy rates and rapidly rising rents— the resurgence of housing demand in a HOPE VI neighborhood may trigger runaway gentrification. Unless deeply subsidized housing units are replaced (either in the redeveloped neighborhood or in other desirable locations), rents in previously afford- able neighborhoods climb out of reach for all but the most affluent, voucher recipients have difficulty

Historically, policies focused on producing affordable rental housing have paid little attention to environ- mental impacts. However, the clustering of affordable rental housing in central cities contributes to sprawl- ing development patterns on the fringes of many American metropolitan areas, as middle- and upper- income households—seeking to distance themselves from poverty and distress—move to the outer suburbs and beyond, thus fueling new residential develop- ment on the urban fringe. These sprawling patterns of development yield a host of adverse environmental consequences (Katz and Turner 2008).

Thus, efforts to redevelop distressed public hous- ing, create viable mixed-income communities in central-city neighborhoods, and incorporate afford- able housing into healthy communities throughout metropolitan regions all have the potential to con- tribute to larger, smart growth strategies. But policies that enable or encourage low-income families to move to opportunity-rich neighborhoods sometimes generate opposition from receiving neighborhoods, because of fears that newcomers may undermine the quality of life there. Some research has raised con- cerns about possible negative effects of subsidized housing—for example, where poorly managed build- ings are located in high-value neighborhoods. How- ever, the most careful research conducted to date finds that smaller-scale, better designed, and better managed subsidized housing does not lead to neigh- borhood decline or resegregation and, indeed, can contribute to neighborhood upgrading. In contrast, subsidized housing clustered in lower-cost, higher- poverty, minority neighborhoods can be detrimen-

Federal Programs for Addressing Low-Income Housing Needs


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