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January 05, 2014

First State of the Field Scan on Mixed-Income Developments

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The National Initiative on Mixed-Income Communities has released its
first State of the Field scan on Social Dynamics in Mixed-Income Developments. This report is the first effort to conduct data collection across a broad set of mixed-income developments nationwide. The focus of this first state of the field scan is on the topic of "social dynamics" in mixed-income developments including issues of social interaction, community building, social control and governance. This scan is based on information from 31 developments across the country.

The goals of these State of the Field Scans are to:
1) generate a comparative description of the landscape of the mixed-income development field,
2) collect and analyze perceptions, experiences and insights from mixed-income practitioners on specific topics of pressing interest to the field and
3) make contact and build relationships with a network of mixed-income developments and practitioners across the field.

There are a number of implications for policy and practice that have come from this scan.

This scan of 31 mixed-income developments in the U.S. and Canada provides a limited but informative look at the variety of approaches to mixed-income design and varying perspectives on the issue of social dynamics. Despite the wide range of levels of “income mix” across sites, we learned of some shared issues and challenges across sites in terms of promoting and sustaining strong social relations among the mix of residents. While there is consensus among respondents that managing social relations is a critical component of the long-term success of mixed-income developments, most do not feel that they yet have the full strategies or resources to be most effective. Those sites that benefit from a planned site design that facilitates various forms of interaction, dedicated efforts to program and manage communal facilities and public space, and active mechanisms for engaging residents in community building, seem to hold more promise of Sustained effective neighboring. Most respondents shared a positive outlook on the relative stability of their development but agreed that generating stronger and less divisive relations across the various lines of difference among residents will require more creative and strategic attention to managing social dynamics