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Social Cohesion, Neighborhood Opportunity, and Subsidized Housing Residents: What’s Race Got to Do with It?

Authors: Michael Webb*, Center for Urban and Regional Studies
Topics: Ethnic Geography, Urban and Regional Planning, Urban Geography
Keywords: housing choice vouchers, public housing, neighborhood, opportunity, race
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Improving neighborhood conditions of subsidized housing residents is not only a noted policy goal, but often framed as a crucial civil rights issue. Several efforts—including the Small Area Fair Market Rent (SAFMR) demonstration and Choice Neighborhoods—have sought to improve families’ access to high opportunity neighborhoods with quality schools, low crime, and employment opportunities. What remains a point of contention, though, is whether subsidized housing residents can integrate into the community fabric of these opportunity neighborhoods.

In response, this paper examines how reported social cohesion and satisfaction among subsidized housing residents varies according to different measures of neighborhood opportunity and racial/ethnic composition. Data are sourced from recent surveys of over 2,000 public housing and Section 8 residents in Charlotte, NC. As programs like SAFMR and Choice Neighborhoods are slated for possible expansion, the research can inform these efforts and possible services to help subsidized housing residents acclimate to their new neighborhoods.

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