Date of Award

Summer 2011

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Urban Systems - (Ph.D.)

Department

Joint Program in Urban Systems

First Advisor

Karen A. Franck

Second Advisor

Dennis E. Gale

Third Advisor

Anthony W. Schuman

Fourth Advisor

Jeffrey Robert Backstrand

Abstract

Since 1992, public housing authorities (PHAs) throughout the United States have been building public housing rental and owner-occupied housing in place of demolished or rehabilitated distressed public housing and simultaneously attempting to deconcentrate poverty and improve self-sufficiency among the affected residents. The distressed housing is usually dilapidated, poorly designed, poorly constructed, poorly maintained, and poorly managed; the residents are very poor, are in constant fear of crime and violence, and have little hope. Previous attempts to address these problems have been piecemeal and often inadequate.

Based on recommendations by the National Commission on Severely Distressed Public Housing in 1992, the U.S. Congress launched the HOPE VI program to remedy severely distressed conditions in public housing to make the developments physically desirable and economically viable to both middle and lower income households. HOPE VI went a step further than previous reform initiatives by providing human services to residents to help them transition from dependence on welfare and other government aid programs to economic self-sufficiency.

Administered by HUD and targeting the worst affected developments, HOPE VI cash grants to housing authorities facilitate redevelopment of the distressed properties. Typically, PHAs build new replacement housing only but some sites have both rehabilitated and new housing. To eliminate the extreme poverty at distressed sites, PHA relocate most of the residents to other public housing sites and presumably, to better housing and to low-poverty neighborhoods in the private market. The residents receive supportive services to help them increase employment and income, achieve housing and economic self-sufficiency, and to reduce dependency on government assistance.

In this dissertation, I explored the physical improvements, poverty deconcentration, and self-sufficiency improvements undertaken through the HOPE VI program at three distressed public housing developments in Camden, New Jersey. The Housing Authority of the City of Camden has completed redevelopment at McGuire Gardens and Westfield Acres and currently redeveloping Roosevelt Manor. Different redevelopment strategies were used at the three sites: partial demolition, site and building redesign, rehabilitation, and construction of new housing at McGuire Gardens and complete demolition, site and building redesign, and construction of new housing at Baldwin‘s Run and Roosevelt Manor. Utilizing information from several sources, I examined redevelopment impacts on current public housing residents at the new HOPE VI sites. The primarily data sources were a survey of HOPE VI public housing householders at the two completed sites through face-to-face interviews, interviews with HOPE VI officials, analysis of HOPE VI administrative data, HUD data sets, census data, and the HOPE VI site redevelopment plans. Study findings show major physical transformations and substantially reduced concentrations of poverty at all three sites but negligible improvements in self-sufficiency outcomes among residents.

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