ABNNF's motivation regarding Charlesview

The first comment on this post asks an important question that I think is worth writing about in a new post instead of in the long list of comments that are forming on that one. The ABNNF's motivation is to have the best possible development of new housing, retail, open space, and other uses in our neighborhood.

To us, this means following the best practices of modern housing design (mixed-income neighborhood housing) instead of repeating the obsolete ideas from 50 years ago (segregate low-income people in housing that isolates them from the rest of society). So our proposal is to build more than what is in the Harvard/Charlesview proposal. Specifically, we believe that more median-income and more market-rate housing interspersed with the units that comprise the current Charlesview and much more land should be used than the 7 acres that Harvard has offered.

These ideas of a mixed-income neighborhood are not something that members of the ABNNF dreamed up on our own. Many people at many organizations support these goals, including the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University which has published papers including:


The Vicious Cycle: Segregated Housing, Schools and Intergenerational Inequality

"The basic message of this report is that the educational consequences of residential segregation in metropolitan areas have profound intergenerational consequences, make a mockery of the promise of equal educational opportunity, feed the vicious cycle of racial inequality and separation, and that some very important things can and should be done to break that destructive cycle. To do them it is essential to think about housing as a key element in educational opportunity and to recognize that, far from having a true market or fair system of choice in either of these spheres, metro Boston has very severe racial barriers and boundaries that limit and threaten its future. This cycle can only be broken if it is recognized and there is a serious public commitment to integration."

Mixed-Income Housing Developments: Promise and Reality

"Large-scale, all-very-low-income developments will always pose problems... History has shown that concentrating large numbers of very poor households in one area is a destructive policy that is to be avoided at all costs."

The Fall (and Rise) of Public Housing

"America’s first public housing development [Techwood in Atlanta] became America’s first genuine public housing rescue. Instead of just buying a load of new cabinets and drywall, the Authority used its $42 million federal grant to leverage another $40-plus million in private investment for a complete overhaul. In 1995 Atlanta began systematically demolishing Techwood Village and Clark Howell Homes, and replacing them with a mix of sizes, densities, and incomes that more resembles a real neighborhood. The result became a model for what would happen at Cabrini-Green, Robert Taylor, Blackwell, and dozens of other projects.

The new Centennial Place contains nearly the same number of units as the two predecessor projects (900, compared to a former peak of 1,100), but they are less concentrated, with a three-tier mix of rent levels, including 40 percent of the apartments at unsubsidized market rates. But far more significant is that Centennial Place is no longer just a “housing project”—a mere agglomeration of apartments block after block—but also offers a new elementary school, a state-of-the-art YMCA, a high-tech public library, child-care facilities, and a host of employment and social services to help residents solve problems and raise their families. It has gone from being a project to being a community, part of a larger social whole."

The Social Costs of Concentrated Poverty: Externalities to Neighboring Households and Property Owners and the Dynamics of Decline

"there is no substantial relationship between neighborhood poverty changes and property values or rents when poverty rates stay below ten (10) percent. By contrast, marginal increases in poverty when neighborhood poverty rates are in the range of 10 to 20 percent results in dramatic declines in value and rent, strongly suggesting a threshold corresponding to the theoretical prediction....preventing neighborhoods from sliding past their threshold into a state of concentrated poverty would result in avoiding substantial social harms, as capitalized in dramatic losses of property values"

Rethinking U.S. Rental Housing Policy

"The recommendations... insist that the federal role in producing affordable housing must be clear and structured to... promote mixed income housing, decommission federal enclaves of poverty..."

1 comment:

  1. While I have many ocncerns about the current project, my biggest concern is the way it is segregated by income. I think you have done a nice job of illustrating exactly why this is so destructive to the community.

    One of the things I took away from last night's meeting was that what we really need is focus. This issue is the one I would like to see us focus on.

    I thought the ABNNF's plan was a well-thought-out alternative to what we are currently seeing. I realize it may be difficult to get Harvard to expand the land made available for this project. However - that said, what else are they using it for? All I see is empty buildings, with no signs of new occupants.

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