The Hope Vi Program: What About the Residents?

During the 1990s, the federal government dramatically changed its policy for housing the poor. Under the new approach, embodied in the $5 billion HOPE VI program begun in 1992, the Department of Housing and Urban Development moved away from providing project-based assistance for poor families and started promoting mixed-income housing and the use<br/>of housing subsidies to prevent the concentration of troubled, low-income<br/>households.<br/>The philosophy behind the shift was similar to that driving the new approach to welfare reform a few years later. Both reforms sought to<br/>promote self-sufficiency among recipients—one by emphasizing jobs over welfare checks; the other by encouraging families to move to better, safer neighborhoods that might offer greater economic opportunities. In both cases, recipients were given supportive services to help them achieve self-sufficiency, and the two populations largely overlapped.<br/>While much has been written about the impact of welfare reform on the lives of former<br/>recipients, until now little has been known about the impact of the dramatic shift in housing policy on the lives of those in the original dilapidated public housing developments.<br/>In the decade since HOPE VI began, what has happened to residents of the troubled<br/>developments slated for demolition—among the most beleaguered housing in the nation?<br/>Have these people found and kept better housing in more mixed-income neighborhoods? Are the children who left the projects safer and healthier, the adults more self-sufficient?<br/>Did the services offered meet the challenges?<br/>To answer these and other questions, the Urban Institute and its partner, Abt Associates,<br/>conducted the first systematic, multi-city studies of HOPE VI’s impact on original residents.<br/>One study is tracking the living conditions and well-being of residents from five developments<br/>who were surveyed as revitalization began in mid- to late 2001. Another study provides a<br/>snapshot of the living conditions and well-being of former residents of eight properties in early 2001—between two and seven years after the housing authority received a HOPE VI grant. This brief presents the findings from those studies and discusses their policy implications. (Authors)

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