SYMPOSIUM: SHAPING AMERICAN COMMUNITIES: SEGREGATION, HOUSING & THE URBAN POOR: THE SPATIAL BIAS OF FEDERAL HOUSING LAW AND POLICY: CONCENTRATED POVERTY IN URBAN AMERICA Skip over navigation
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Copyright (c) 1995 The Trustees of The University of Pennsylvania 
University of Pennsylvania Law Review

SYMPOSIUM: SHAPING AMERICAN COMMUNITIES: SEGREGATION, HOUSING & THE URBAN POOR: THE SPATIAL BIAS OF FEDERAL HOUSING LAW AND POLICY: CONCENTRATED POVERTY IN URBAN AMERICA

MAY, 1995

143 U. Pa. L. Rev. 1285

Author

MICHAEL H. SCHILL * AND SUSAN M. WACHTER **

Excerpt

Problems associated with poverty are not new to American cities. Nevertheless, in recent years a consensus has developed that increasing concentrations of very poor, predominantly minority households in inner-city communities have generated especially severe social pathologies ranging from persistent unemployment and welfare dependency to crime and drug abuse. Patterns of geographically concentrated inner-city poverty are rooted in a number of demographic and social dynamics including urban deindustrialization, the breakdown of the nuclear family, race discrimination, and the adverse impacts of government policies. In this Article, we examine one surprisingly important and underexamined cause of concentrated inner-city poverty -- federal housing law and policy. Throughout the twentieth century, federal housing law and policy have exhibited a locational bias that has promoted the growth of large concentrations of poor people in the inner city.



In Part I, we briefly describe the increase in concentrated poverty that has taken place in American cities over the past two decades as well as the problems it generates. In Part II, we examine how federal housing policies of the past sixty years have contributed to concentrated inner-city poverty. Particular emphasis is placed upon the federal Public Housing Program. In addition to describing how public housing promoted concentrated poverty within its walls, we examine whether the program negatively affected urban neighborhoods. We use data from the city of Philadelphia to test whether the location of public housing in a neighborhood affects overall poverty rates within that community. Our findings suggest that the existence of public ...
 
 
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