Len Albright is a doctoral candidate
in the department of sociology at the University of Chicago. From 2004 to 2007, he was a recipient of the University’s Phoenix Fellowship. His research interests include affordable and mixed-income housing, community studies, the built environment, and urban theory. His dissertation is supported by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
TITLE: “Making it Out Here: Understanding Mobility in a Suburb
an Affordable Housing Program”
The Mount Laurel Decision in New Jersey was a landmark judicial action aimed at dispersing poverty and increasing affordable housing across the state. In honor of the woman who brought the case against the state, a nonprofit developer built a 140-unit affordable housing complex named the Ethel Lawrence Homes in Mount Laurel Township. The project brought more than 100 primarily minority families from an urban area into a largely White, upper-middle class suburb. Housing complexes like this have been built across the state and continue to be constructed. My research is an interview and ethnographic case study of this high-profile and highly symbolic housing project. Given a primary focus in housing policy on geographic dispersal and suburban housing programs, this study of the Ethel Lawrence Homes will provide needed answers to the question: To what extent do minority housing program residents integrate themselves into the social structure of suburban communities, and how do race and class differences affect this process? For this workshop, I plan to facilitate a conversation about what my findings can help uncover about the process of social, economic, and spatial mobility. What does it take it to “make it” to and in the suburbs, and what can “making it out here” tell us about people in social motion?