- Form Follows Families: Evolution of U.S. Affordable Housing Design and Construction
- Volume 16, Number 2
- Managing Editor: Mark D. Shroder
- Associate Editor: Michelle P. Matuga
The Smokescreen of Poverty Deconcentration
Edward G. Goetz
University of Minnesota
Should the deconcentration of poverty be a leading objective of federal housing policy? No.
Deconcentrating poverty is a smokescreen. It camouflages forced relocation of low-income households. What do we mean when we talk about deconcentrating poverty? As it has been implemented to date, deconcentration has meant manipulating the spatial arrangement of federally subsidized low-income families to either disperse or dilute poverty. Dispersal is accomplished through (1) pro- viding vouchers to subsidized families who wish to move out of subsidized developments that have concentrations of poverty, or (2) forcing the movement of subsidized families through the demolition and redevelopment of their subsidized communities. Dilution is accomplished through redevelopment that reduces the number of low-income subsidized units in a given site and mixing them with units to be occupied by middle-class households induced into moving in. Thus, although deconcentra- ting poverty has the sound of a sweeping and comprehensive effort, in reality it is much less than that. In the end, it is simply the spatial rearrangement of federally subsidized low-income households.
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