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During the 1990s, the federal government dramatically changed its policy for housing the poor. Under the new approach, embodied in the $5 billion HOPE VI program begun in 1992, the Department of Housing and Urban Development moved away from providing project-based assistance for poor families and started promoting mixed-income housing and the use
of housing subsidies to prevent the concentration of troubled, low-income
households.
The philosophy behind the shift was similar to that driving the new approach to welfare reform a few years later. Both reforms sought to
promote self-sufficiency among recipients—one by emphasizing jobs over welfare checks; the other by encouraging families to move to better, safer neighborhoods that might offer greater economic opportunities. In both cases, recipients were given supportive services to help them achieve self-sufficiency, and the two populations largely overlapped.
While much has been written about the impact of welfare reform on the lives of former
recipients, until now little has been known about the impact of the dramatic shift in housing policy on the lives of those in the original dilapidated public housing developments.
In the decade since HOPE VI began, what has happened to residents of the troubled
developments slated for demolition—among the most beleaguered housing in the nation?
Have these people found and kept better housing in more mixed-income neighborhoods? Are the children who left the projects safer and healthier, the adults more self-sufficient?
Did the services offered meet the challenges?
To answer these and other questions, the Urban Institute and its partner, Abt Associates,
conducted the first systematic, multi-city studies of HOPE VI’s impact on original residents.
One study is tracking the living conditions and well-being of residents from five developments
who were surveyed as revitalization began in mid- to late 2001. Another study provides a
snapshot of the living conditions and well-being of former residents of eight properties in early 2001—between two and seven years after the housing authority received a HOPE VI grant. This brief presents the findings from those studies and discusses their policy implications. (Authors)
Report
The Urban Institute
Washington, D.C.
202-833-7200
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