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  • Assignment 2 - McQuillin
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Project Topic 1:

          I would like to complete an analysis focusing on the mobility of Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher holders in the city of Boston.  The Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program was created to increase affordable housing choices among very low income individuals and families by allowing them to rent apartments in the private market.  Many researchers and housing advocates have argued that, while the voucher program has increased choice and mobility to some extent, concentrations of low income families continues to persist.  It is illegal in Massachusetts to discriminate in housing transactions based on the fact that an individual or family uses a Section 8 Voucher.  In theory, therefore, voucher holders should be able to rent apartments anywhere in the city, as long as the apartment has met basic safety and sanitary guidelines and is within an 'approved' housing cost range.

The spatial/geographic questions that I would like to address include:

-Where have Section 8 Voucher Holders "chosen" to live?
-Do voucher holders tend to be concentrated in certain neighborhoods of Boston?
-If there are concentrations of voucher holders, do they tend to be located in proximity to public housing developments or other low-income housing?
-If there are concentrations of Voucher holders within certain census tracts, what is the racial and economic makeup of those neighborhoods?
-Can concentrations of voucher holders (if they exist) be explained by certain market factors, including average home values and average rents for an area?

Availability of Information:

State agencies and other housing organizations (Department of Housing and Community Development; Local Housing Authorities; Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership) maintain databases of Section 8 Voucher Holders and the addresses at which they are living.  I have no idea if I will be allowed to access this data (organizations may understandably be reluctant to release the information).  A similar study has been completed in Washington, D.C., but I do not believe a spatial analysis has been conducted for the Boston area. 

References that have helped in framing this topic:

Analysis of Fair Housing Impediments to Fair Housing Choice in the District of Columbia, 2005.
Lahr, Michael L. and Robert M. Gibbs. 2000.  "Mobility of Section 8 Families in Alameda County." Journal of Housing Economics.  September v11n(3): 187-213.
Cunningham, Mary K., David J. Sylvester, and Margery A. Turner. 2000. "Section 8 Families in the Washington Region: Neighborhood Choices and Constraints. A Report to the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments." Washington, DC: Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.
2002. "HOPE VI and Section 8: Spatial Patterns in Relocation." Report prepared for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Washington, DC: The Urban Institute.

Project Topic 2:

HUD's HOPE VI program was developed to improve the living environment for residents of severely distressed public housing.  Additional goals of the program include revitalizing project sites and contributing to the improvement of the surrounding neighborhood; providing housing that will avoid or decrease the concentration of very low-income families; and to build sustainable communities.  I would like to examine the impact of HOPE VI developments in the Greater Boston Area on the neighborhoods in which they are sited. 

Spatial questions for this analysis might include:

-What are the locations of the HOPE VI sites (and is that different from the original public housing site)?
-What was the income level of the neighborhood before HOPE VI revitalization as compared to existing data?
-What is the racial makeup of the area (before and after HOPE VI revitalization)
-Have housing sale prices increased since the revitalization?
-Has there been an increase in population, diversity, business, income, etc. since the HOPE VI project was completed?

HUD maintains a list of HOPE IV projects that is available on their website.  For instance, there are 3 HOPE VI developments in Boston, and the HUD list contains the addresses and contact information for these projects.  Most other data can be derived from the 1990 and 2000 census.

References that should prove useful in examining this topic:

A decade of Hope VI:  Research Findings and Policy Challenges 2004, Urban InstituteCeraso, Karen. 1995. "Is Mixed-Income Housing the Key?" Shelterforce80(March/April): 21-25. 
Cunningham, Lynn E. 2001. "Islands of Affordability in a Sea of Gentrification:  Lessons Learned from the D.C. Housing Authority's HOPE VI Projects." Journal of Affordable Housing 10(4): 353-71.
Freeman, Lance. 2003. "The Impact of Assisted Housing Developments on Concentrated Poverty."  Housing Policy Debate 14(1): 103-41.
Howell, Joseph T., and Michael W. Leonard. 1999. "Marketing HOPE VI Housing: Getting It Right in Mixed-Income Communities." Journal of Housing and Community Development 56(3): 25-32.
"Public Housing: HOPE VI Resident Issues and Changes in Neighborhoods Surrounding Grant Sites.
Report to the Ranking Minority Member, Subcommittee on Housing and Transportation, Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, U.S. Senate."

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