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Where The Poor Live: How Federal Housing Policy Shapes Residential Communities

Sherri Lawson Clark
Urban Anthropology and Studies of Cultural Systems and World Economic Development
Vol. 31, No. 1, Urban Legends: Race, Class, and the Politics of Mythical Revitalizations (SPRING, 2002), pp. 69-92
Published by: The Institute, Inc.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40553557
Page Count: 24
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Where The Poor Live: How Federal Housing Policy Shapes Residential Communities
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Abstract

Since 1993, the Department of Housing and Urban Development has granted over $ 4.8 billion to public housing authorities to demolish, rehabilitate, and rebuild public housing dwellings across the country. The funding program, called HOPE VI, has received a great deal of commentary about its effects on low-income families and communities. This paper examines a specific HOPE VI development and its surrounding Capitol Hill community.The site was one of the first HOPE VI grantees in the country and has been operating at full capacity since 2000. This paper examines the spatial organization of residential housing in the community in which the HOPE VI site is located. What makes the community such a provocative study is its social geography. The HOPE VI development separates two neighborhoods that are differentiated by race, income, and access to resources; thus, it acts as a buffer between the two communities. The community is also divided by a freeway that separates a predominately poor, black residential area from a mostly wealthy, white residential area. By using several empirical studies and theoretical perspectives that examine subjugated minority populations via urban planning to ethnographic data that I have gathered since 1995, this paper demonstrates how broader structural forces, such as housing policy, dis-criminatory practices, economic restructuring, and hegemonic discourse, all shape communities in which the poor live.

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