Disarming the Affordable Housing Debate

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A new piece by Urban Institute’s Margery Austin Turner and Solomon Greene answers the question “where should a poor family live?” In response to an op-ed in the New York Times by columnist Thomas Edsall, the authors explore the tension between investing in low-income communities, versus creating opportunities for poor people to live in wealthier communities. In the excerpt below, they conclude that the question presents a false dichotomy for the affordable housing sector:

Which is what brings us to contest the premise of Edsall’s second question, which suggests that, to maximize the bang for our affordable housing buck, we must choose either reinvestment or mobility strategies. Today’s problems of segregation and neighborhood distress were caused by both disinvestment from poor neighborhoods and exclusion of poor people from opportunity-rich neighborhoods. So the remedy has to include both reinvestment in urban neighborhoods where poor people live and opening up housing options at a regional scale.


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