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Curriculum Vitae

Where Did They Go? Where are They Now? Chicago Public Housing Residents after HOPE VI (2010)

Michael D. M. Bader, Nancy Davenport and Sudhir A. Venkatesh Presented at the Annual Meetings of the American Sociological Association, Atlanta, Georgia.


The HOPE VI legislation aimed to replace “severely distressed” public housing with lower-density, mixed-income developments; it was conceived as a policy solution to the spatial concentration of poverty. While the policy’s aim was to reduce racial and economic segregation by facilitating relocation from extremely poor neighborhoods, evidence suggests that many residents eventually moved back to their former neighborhoods, or to neighborhoods as poor and segregated. In this paper, we argue that HOPE VI’s limited success stems in large part from the policy’s failure to account for the social organization of public housing residents, who were connected through networks of resource exchange relationships. Using the first full census of public housing residents–including leaseholders, non-leaseholders, and squatters–from three Chicago Housing Authority buildings demolished as part of HOPE VI, we examine how residents’ social organization has affected their geographic mobility over time. We trace where residents have lived, and with whom they have lived, over the decade since their buildings were demolished. We map these relocation patterns, including the number of moves per individual, their exact addresses, their concentration in different Chicago neighborhoods, and the degree of spatial dispersion of the population and subgroups over time. Finally, we investigate the degree to which social relationships, economic ties, and attachment to place affect where they live.