From Despair to Hope

From Despair to Hope: Hope VI and the New Promise of Public Housing in America's Cities

Henry G. Cisneros
Lora Engdahl
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 334
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    From Despair to Hope
    Book Description:

    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 Hopedocuments 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.

    InFrom 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 fromFrom 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

    eISBN: 978-0-8157-0190-3
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Kurt L. Schmoke

    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, Henry Cisneros, that creative policy development and wise decisionmaking converged to produce an innovative approach that helped to improve the quality of life for many of the country’s poorest citizens. That innovative approach came to be known as HOPE VI....

    (pp. ix-x)
    Henry Cisneros and Lora Engdahl

    • CHAPTER 1 A New Moment for People and Cities
      (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 community builder whom I knew from serving on the board of the Enterprise Foundation, which he founded. Jim thought I should see Enterprise’s efforts to revitalize Baltimore’s Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood.

      Energized by Enterprise’s comprehensive approach—pairing housing development with employment, training, drug rehabilitation, and schools—I joined...

    • CHAPTER 2 The Origins of HOPE VI
      (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 a rule-bound realm controlled by federal bureaucrats to an investment in the nation’s future managed by market-savvy local leaders. Just as meaningful, in spite of its misses (and sometimes because of them), it has engendered a deep and abiding discussion on national housing policy with respect to the negative...

    • CHAPTER 3 The Evolution of HOPE VI as a Development Program
      (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 some 86,000 “severely distressed units.”¹ The recommendations of the commission led to the 1992 enactment of the Urban Revitalization Demonstration (URD), the first iteration of today’s HOPE VI program. By the end of 1993, more than $1 billion in fiscal year 1993...

    • CHAPTER 4 HOPE VI and New Urbanism
      (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 transforming public housing as well as other federal housing programs. Policymakers and practitioners began to harness the capacity of design...

    • CHAPTER 5 HOPE VI and the Deconcentration of Poverty
      (pp. 65-82)

      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. Within a few short years, Wilson’s focus on the “concentration effects” of urban poverty had become conventional wisdom. It was not just poverty that moved so many inner-city neighborhoods into wretchedness; it was theconcentrationof poor urban African American families in geographic, economic, and social isolation that was the culprit.



    • CHAPTER 6 An Overview of HOPE VI Revitalization Grant Projects
      (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 more than 120 cities. Beneficiaries include large cities with multiple HOPE VI grants: Chicago had the most, with nine grants; Atlanta, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C., had received seven each. HOPE VI grants have also gone to dozens of smaller cities, such as Daytona Beach, Florida; Muncie, Indiana; and Wheeling, West Virginia.

      The HOPE VI redevelopment efforts...

    • CHAPTER 7 New Holly, Seattle
      (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 Seattles Holly Park public housing project in the early 1990s, the United States must have seemed far from a land of opportunity.

      Built with haste during World War II as temporary housing for shipyard workers, the barracks-style Holly Park community was largely falling apart by the early 1990s. A disheartening degree of physical decrepitude, socioeconomic distress, and crime was borne resolutely by inhabitants, many of whom had experienced far worse in the refugee...

    • CHAPTER 8 The Villages of Park DuValle, Louisville
      (pp. 121-142)

      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 the sight of a school bus rounding the corner a few blocks away suggests that the scene may soon get livelier.

      According to theLouisville Courier-Journal,on any given day in...


    • CHAPTER 9 The Atlanta Blueprint: Transforming Public Housing Citywide
      (pp. 145-167)

      Publish 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 rethinking of how to improve housing and housing options for families living below the poverty line—a rethinking enabled in great part by HOPE VI.

      Before that transformation began, the Atlanta Housing Authority (AHA) consigned approximately 70 percent of the extremely low-income households that it served to living in forty-three public housing projects, many of which were highly distressed,...

    • CHAPTER 10 HOPE VI, Neighborhood Recovery, and the Health of Cities
      (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 seems undeniable. And the neighborhood benefits appear to spill over, enhancing the cities’ social and fiscal health. But are these isolated examples, or has HOPE VI proven to be an effective tool for neighborhood and city transformation elsewhere?¹ What does experience suggest about the conditions necessary to catalyze change at the neighborhood and city level? And...

    • CHAPTER 11 Has HOPE VI Transformed Residents’ Lives?
      (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 located on the south side of the city, was in desperate need of repair: the heat was unreliable, elevators rarely worked, toilets overflowed, apartments were overrun with cockroaches and vermin, and buildings were scarred with graffiti. Few Wells residents had full-time jobs, only half...

    • CHAPTER 12 How HOPE VI Has Helped Reshape Public Housing
      (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 units.¹ Years of funding shortfalls have left housing authorities struggling to simply maintain their properties, let alone chip away at long-deferred needs for repair and replacement.²

      But in an industry seemingly awash in bad news, there is good news. The ongoing quest to do more with less coincides with...


    • CHAPTER 13 HOPE VI: What Went Wrong
      (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 thousands of poor, predominantly African American families from their homes and communities, made the housing situation for some of the nation’s most vulnerable citizens even more precarious, and exacerbated the shortage of affordable homes for people in the lowest income brackets. The promise (and rhetoric) of...

    • CHAPTER 14 The Conservative Critique of HOPE VI
      (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 and the environments in which they live. While it has had some beneficial effects, HOPE VI was perhaps overly broad in scope. With philosophical roots stretching back as far as the New Deal but operating in a far different environment, it aimed for multiple objectives but, by relying on the direct government provision of services, appears to have failed to deliver the value...

    • CHAPTER 15 Taking Advantage of What We Have Learned
      (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 in federal investment into 240 neighborhoods and providing 111,059 new and renovated housing units, 59,674 of them affordable for low-income, public housing–assisted families.¹ HOPE VI engaged local leaders and private investors in public housing redevelopment, bringing new constituencies to public housing and allowing many local housing authorities...

  9. Appendix A. Scope and Status of the HOPE VI Program
    (pp. 299-306)
  10. APPENDIX B. HOPE VI Revitalization Program Grants, 1993–2008
    (pp. 307-316)
    (pp. 317-320)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 321-330)
    (pp. 331-334)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 335-336)