So About that Deconcentrating Poverty Thing…

Land of Opportunity Interactive has a marvelous interactive video (click here for description of what that means) called “Bricks and Sticks: Public vs. Private“ that uses footage from New Orleans to force the viewer to question some of the assumptions behind the “deconcentrating poverty” argument for turning public housing into partially privatized mixed-income housing. 

Angela Glover Blackwell, of PolicyLink, sets up the challenge well a few minutes into the piece by arguing, “It is not the concentration of poverty in and of itself that creates the problem. The concentration of poverty sets up an identifiable community that the government sector and the private sector disrespect.”

It's somewhat rare to hear challenges to the idea that “concentrated poverty” is a cause of problems, not an effect, so I found Blackwell's comments to be refreshingly direct, as were those of the UN special rapporteur for affordable housing, who noted that mixed-income housing is a great idea—if it's done with a human rights focus, instead of a real estate focus—but that's not how it's generally being done here.

Watch the clip (it's worth it just for the chuckle you'll get out of the cutting together of various nearly identical groundbreaking speeches) and then share your reactions below. Do you think it's accurate? Useful?

Miriam Axel-Lute is CEO/editor-in-chief of Shelterforce. She lives in Albany, New York, and is a proud small-city aficionado.


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