Authors: Gayle Epp
Fannie Mae Foundation
This article provides a practitioner's view of proposals and efforts to revitalize the most distressed housing communities under the Urban Revitalization Demonstration (URD) program. While data suggest that most public housing is in good physical condition, recent trends toward increasingly impoverished resident populations suggest that tinkering with the public housing program by changing occupancy policies or creating new, small-scale initiatives will not lead to long-term sustainability of communities. The article reviews recent public housing history and the efforts of the National Commission on Severely Distressed Public Housing to assess the root causes of distress and identify solutions. URD plans in Seattle and Indianapolis are used to illustrate the range of flexible intervention strategies for revitalizing public housing communities. Since little research exists to indicate which combination of approaches ensures the long-term sustainability of revitalized communities or mixed-income developments, more evaluation of URD efforts is necessary.
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