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November 05, 2013

Cityscape Mixed-Income Symposium

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Cityscape Mixed-Income Symposium Summary and Response: Implications for Antipoverty Policy

Mark Joseph, Director of NIMC and Associate Professor at The Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve University, wrote a summative piece in the latest Cityscape Symposium on the Mixed Messages on Mixed Incomes. He asserts that the literature on poverty deconcentration consists of two main policy approaches, dispersal and mixed-income, and fundamental questions still remain even after 20 years of research on poverty deconcentration efforts.

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Joseph notes the limited and even detrimental effects of mixed-income and dispersal policies that have more impact on place than people. He points to three ideological issues fundamental to the shortcomings in these policy efforts; poverty is viewed as an individual rather than structural issue, the belief in the power of the market to provide housing for poor people and create pathways out of poverty, and the association between choice and neighborhood quality.

The symposium highlights design changes that can improve results; connecting theory and evidence and developing specific goals that can be measured and assessed. Joseph goes on to make recommendations for improved antipoverty policy and practice. These include place-based initiatives to address structural issues using partnerships with housing authorities, municipal governments, and civic and corporate interests, while also addressing short-term goals such as revitalizing low-income communities where they are at, working to create mixed income communities of choice, developing a much more clear distinction between dispersal and mixed-income policies in order to create greater evidence of what works, and enhancements of federal and local programs. Federal and local enhancements to housing choice voucher program, project-based vouchers, mixed-income development, inclusionary zoning, and community development block grants, would include a comprehensive suite of enhancements, including technical assistance to implementers, stronger guidelines and requirements in funding applications and competitions, improved local collaborations, and incentives for innovation.

Read Joseph's full response and symposium contributions here.