The Politics of Poverty Deconcentration and Housing Demolition

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Abstract

Concentrated poverty is the organizing framework for much housing policy at the federal and local levels. This article examines the effect of concentrated poverty on the politics of housing and community development at the local level. A case study of the Minneapolis-Saint Paul metropolitan area suggests that in high-poverty neighborhoods efforts to deconcentrate lead to political battles reminiscent of the urban renewal era in which poor and minority residents fight to save their housing and communities from slum clearance. For central cities, the deconcentration of poverty as a policy objective introduces a new set of criteria against which community development efforts are judged, making the development of subsidized and affordable housing more difficult to initiate or sustain. At the regional level, concerns about the concentration of poverty can create new alliances of resistance to affordable housing and even justify demolition in older, inner-ring suburbs.

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