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From Despair to Hope

Hope VI and the New Promise of Public Housing in America's Cities

foreword by Kurt L. Schmoke. edited by Henry G. Cisneros and Lora Engdahl

Publication Year: 2009

For decades, the federal government's failure to provide decent and affordable housing to very low-income families has given rise to severely distressed urban neighborhoods that defeat the best hopes of both residents and local officials. Now, however, there is cause for optimism. From Despair to Hope documents the evolution of HOPE VI, a federal program that promotes mixed-income housing integrated with services and amenities to replace the economically and socially isolated public housing complexes of the past. As one of the most ambitious urban development initiatives in the last half century, HOPE VI has transformed the landscape in Atlanta, Baltimore, Louisville, Seattle, and other cities, providing vivid examples of a true federal-urban partnership and offering lessons for policy innovators.

In From Despair to Hope, Henry Cisneros and Lora Engdahl collaborate with public and private sector leaders who were on the scene in the early 1990s when the intolerable conditions in the nation's worst public housing projects —and their devastating impact on inhabitants, neighborhoods, and cities —called for drastic action. These eyewitnesses from the policymaking, housing development, and architecture fields reveal how a program conceived to address one specific problem revolutionized the entire public housing system and solidified a set of principles that guide urban policy today.

This vibrant, full-color exploration of HOPE VI details the fate of residents, neighborhoods, cities, and public housing systems through personal testimony, interviews, case studies, data analyses, research summaries, photographs, and more. Contributors examine what HOPE VI has accomplished as it brings disadvantaged families into more economically mixed communities. They also turn a critical eye on where the program falls short of its ideals. This important book continues the national conversation on poverty, race, and opportunity as the country moves ahead under a new president.

Highlights from From Despair to Hope

"For far too long, the government's response to the condition of public housing was predictable and uncreative.... However, under HOPE VI, things began to change. The program reflected a new view —that cities were centers of opportunity and not just massive shelters for the poor." from the Foreword by Kurt L. Schmoke, Dean of Howard University School of Law and former Mayor of Baltimore "HOPE VI arose during a period of intense urban crisis in the United States that gave rise to the consensus that the extreme poverty in the inner cities and large public housing projects was intolerable. The prescription offered by HOPE VI... reflected the bold notion that public housing needed not merely to provide affordable shelter, but also to generate broader community revival and to alleviate poverty." Bruce Katz

"The benefits of public housing redevelopment —when thoughtfully planned and effectively implemented —can spill over to help turn around long-neglected neighborhoods, attracting new residents and new investments that strengthen a city's social and fiscal health." Margery Austin Turner

"When public housing residents are integrated into mixed-income communities, those communities can fulfill multiple roles that are crucial to the urban workforce, to the housing mission of cities, and to the metropolitan economy." Henry G. Cisneros

"Mounting evidence on the extraordinary personal, social, and economic costs of polarization by race and income supports continued efforts to strive for... a new national policy for metropolitan development." G. Thomas Kingsley

Contributors: Richard D. Baron (McCormack Baron Salazar), Peter Calthorpe (Calthorpe Associates), Sheila Crowley (National Low-Income Housing Coalition), Mary K. Cunningham (Urban Institute), Richard C. Gentry (San Diego Housing Commission), Renée Lewis Glover (Atlanta Housing Authority), Bruce Katz (Brookings Institution), G. Thomas Kingsley (Urban Institute), Alexander Polikoff (Business and Professional People for the Public Interest), Susan J. Popkin (Urban Institute), Margery Austin Turner (Urban Institute), and Ronald D. Utt (Heritage Foundation). Poverty & Race

Published by: Brookings Institution Press

Front Cover

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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-viii

Providing decent and affordable housing to low-income people has been a challenge to officials at all levels of government for decades. During my twelve-year tenure as mayor of Baltimore, I worked with the housing secretaries of three U.S. presidents on this challenge, particularly as it relates to those living in public housing. It was under President Bill Clinton’s housing secretary, ...

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pp. ix-x

Many people and institutions must be recognized for their help in making this book possible. First are the five organizations whose long-standing dedication to human and community development translated into financial support for this project: Bank of America, Annie E. Casey Foundation, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. They ...

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1: A New Moment for People and Cities

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pp. 3-13

In the winter of 1993, early in my tenure as secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in the Clinton administration, I took a road trip to Baltimore that profoundly affected my aspirations for public housing and urban neighborhoods. I took the trip at the request of James Rouse, a lifelong...

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2: The Origins of HOPE VI

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pp. 15-29

HOPE VI is one of the most successful urban redevelopment initiatives of the past half-century. The program has had an impact on hundreds of distressed city neighborhoods, helping revitalize communities once characterized by lawlessness and decline. It has triggered a broader— though still incomplete—transformation of the public housing system from...

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3: The Evolution of HOPE VI as a Development Program

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pp. 31-47

Early in its implementation, the HOPE VI program took a significant turn that had far-reaching repercussions, not only for the program itself but also for the U.S. public housing system in general. As discussed in chapter 2, the National Commission for Severely Distressed Public Housing, created in 1989, called for redeveloping the worst of the sites, which comprised...

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4. HOPE VI and New Urbanism

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pp. 49-63

HOPE VI’s goal of replacing enclaves of concentrated poverty with new mixed-income communities called for a revolutionary design approach as well as progressive social and economic programs. Fortunately, the creation of HOPE VI coincided with the emergence of New Urbanism, an alternative to the flawed design theories that had shaped architecture and urban design worldwide in the post–World War II era. At the behest of HUD, a group of new urbanists helped to apply their new design model to transform...

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5. HOPE VI and the Deconcentration of Poverty

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pp. 65-81

Serious study of urban poverty was ended for more than two decades by the fallout from Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s controversial 1965 report on the problems of the black family.1 In 1987, William Julius Wilson’s examination of the “underclass,” The Truly Disadvantaged, revived it.2 Jumpstarted it, one might say...

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6. An Overview of HOPE VI Revitalization Grant Projects

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pp. 85-91

Hope VI provides the seed capital and parameters for locally driven solutions to the problems that severely distressed public housing sites pose for residents, neighborhoods, and cities. At the end of 2008, HOPE VI Revitalization program grants had been awarded to 246 developments in...

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7. New Holly, Seattle

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pp. 93-119

Recent immigrants to this country perceive the community in which they live and the United States as one and the same. For the many immigrants residing in Seattle’s Holly Park public housing project in the early 1990s, the United Built with haste during World War II as temporary housing for shipyard workers, the barracks-style Holly Park community was largely falling apart ...

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8. The Villages of Park DuValle, Louisville

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pp. 121-141

It is hard to believe that a pretty yellow house with a basket of pink flowers suspended between its porch columns now sits at 32nd Street and Young Avenue, once the “the meanest street corner in Louisville.”1 On a weekday afternoon in December 2007, the green chairs on the front porch are empty and all is quiet. Similarly well-tended homes up and down the block also are quiet—although ...

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9. The Atlanta Blueprint: Transforming Public Housing Citywide

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pp. 145-167

Public housing in Atlanta has undergone a remarkable transformation over the past fifteen years, and along with it, so have many once-broken urban neighborhoods and the marginalized families living in them. Changes of such significance were possible only through a radical...

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10. HOPE VI, Neighborhood Recovery, and the Health of Cities

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pp. 169-189

In Atlanta, Louisville, Seattle, and other cities across the country, thriving neighborhoods are now emerging, replacing the pervasive blight that surrounded public housing projects little more than a decade ago. In these cities, the contribution of HOPE VI to the revitalization of long-distressed neighborhoods...

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11. Has HOPE VI Transformed Residents’ Lives?

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pp. 191-203

When Chicago's Ida B. Wells Homes became a HOPE VI site, it was like a war zone, plagued by sporadic episodes of gang violence, random shootings, and overwhelming drug trafficking. Adding to the pervasive disorder were the many vacant units and the hundreds of squatters who slept in the stairwells. The public housing development, which was...

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12. How HOPE VI Has Helped Reshape Public Housing

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pp. 205-226

The world of public housing is currently undergoing a great deal of change. Much of the shift is due to draconian reductions in federal funding that have created great challenges for the more than 3,100 local housing authorities that administer the traditional public housing program and its nearly 1.2 million housing...

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13. HOPE VI: What Went Wrong

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pp. 229-247

HOPE VI was initiated with the best of intentions, but it is a case study in how badly a government program can run amok. While HOPE VI has resulted in the removal of blighted buildings and the development of some lovely new homes, it also has resulted in the involuntary displacement of tens of...

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24. The Conservative Critique of HOPE VI

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pp. 249-261

By reviving the project-based assistance that many believed had ended in 1974, HOPE VI offered a comparatively expensive form of housing assistance for the needy and an incomplete solution to the ills that plague the inner-city poor...

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15. Taking Advantage of What We Have Learned

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pp. 263-297

The HOPE VI story is a striking one. A program conceived as a means of dealing with the devastating conditions in the worst public housing projects grew into what many see as HUD’s most impressive neighborhood redevelopment initiative, pumping nearly $6 billion in HOPE VI grants and a total of $8.5 billion...

Appendix A

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pp. 299-306

Appendix B

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pp. 307-315


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pp. 317-320


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pp. 321-330

E-ISBN-13: 9780815701903
E-ISBN-10: 081570190X

Page Count: 334
Publication Year: 2009