Abstract: Mixed-Income Redevelopment and Its Effects on Neighborhoods: Did HOPE VI Achieve Its Goals? (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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Mixed-Income Redevelopment and Its Effects on Neighborhoods: Did HOPE VI Achieve Its Goals?

Sunday, January 15, 2023
Encanto A, 2nd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Samantha Teixeira, PhD, Associate Professor, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA
Rebekah Levine Coley, PhD, Faculty, Boston College, MA
Bryn Spielvogel, PhD Candidate, Boston College, MA
Dabin Hwang, PhD, PhD Student, Boston College, MA
Josh Lown, MSW, PhD Candidate, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA
Background and Purpose: The Housing Opportunities for People Everywhere (HOPE) VI policy aimed to transform public housing by demolishing substandard units, revitalizing neighborhoods, and providing paths to economic mobility. Approximately $6.7 billion was spent on HOPE VI between 1993 and 2010 with billions more in public and private funds leveraged. These public-private partnerships were responsible for the redevelopment of 262 public housing sites into mixed-income communities. Despite many subsequent housing policies being modeled after HOPE VI, there is limited rigorous research on its impact on surrounding communities. In this study, we asked, 1) How did HOPE VI affect poverty, demographics, and resources in targeted communities? 2) What neighborhood characteristics shift most quickly, and are shifts durable over time? 3) Do effects of HOPE VI redevelopment depend on features of neighborhoods and public housing sites undergoing redevelopment? We hypothesized that there would be community benefits from public housing redevelopment, but expected the strength of such benefits to vary based upon neighborhood characteristics.

Methods: We created a unique dataset that collates data on 3,884 census tracts containing medium-to-large size public housing developments in urban areas. We drew data on HOPE VI revitalization grants from the National Initiative on Mixed-Income Communities (NIMC, 2021) and neighborhood characteristics including poverty, affluence, racial composition, and commercial, institutional, and social services from the Decennial Census, the American Community Survey, the Economic Census, and ZIP code Business Patterns. We matched HOPE VI and control tracts and used a flexible conditional difference-in-differences technique to estimate average treatment effects on the treated, accounting for varying treatment start dates and durations. This rigorous quasi-experimental method allowed us to assess the effects of HOPE VI redevelopment on neighborhood composition and resources at 2, 5, and 10 years after completion of redevelopment.

Results: HOPE VI redevelopment increased median household incomes and decreased tract poverty by 2.9 percentage points, an effect that remained stable through 10 years post-redevelopment. No effects emerged on the percent of affluent neighborhood residents, suggesting that changes were driven by a loss of poor residents and increases in moderate-income residents rather than an influx of affluent residents. These effects were most pronounced in high poverty and predominantly Black tracts. HOPE VI redevelopments did not affect the racial composition or presence of institutional resources, social services, or commercial resources like grocery stores in redeveloped communities compared to matched controls.

Conclusions and Implications: HOPE VI focused on redeveloping severely distressed public housing. Among its broader goals were neighborhood revitalization, aiming for economic integration of low-income residents with higher-income neighbors and economic investment at the neighborhood level. Although findings suggest that HOPE VI redevelopments reduced the level of concentrated poverty in target communities, the program was less successful in its goals of improving resources at the neighborhood level. This has important social work implications, pointing to the need for housing policy and place-based revitalization strategies that explicitly integrate mechanisms to promote economic opportunities and neighborhood resources in addition to quality housing.