Naomi Bartz is a PhD Candidate in Human Development at the University of Chicago.
TITLE: “We Don’t Want No Crumbs:” Local Political Responses to Mixed-Income Strategies of Neighborhood Revitalization.
The construction of mixed-income developments has taken hold across the United States, Canada, and other post-industrialized nations as an urban revitalization approach and as a strategy for improving the quality of lives of low-income residents as well as the larger neighborhood. These developments are expected to alleviate the concentration of poverty through the creation of opportunities for market-rate investment, concomitant with mandates for specific income mixes. In this talk I will investigate how local political factions respond to and mediate the policy goals associated with the construction of MIDs and the actual outcomes of these major revitalization projects. While mixed-income developments have generally been researched in isolate, I will argue that when assessed in light of existing local political structures, they may in fact present unanticipated neighborhood-wide change. My proposition, based on nine months of research in a low-income neighbourhood in Vancouver, British Columbia, is that this popular new approach to urban economic development is mobilizing actors to enter and/or solidify their place in the political arena and ‘fight’ for legitimization and instantiation of their own vision of the community area in an attempt to ‘win’ over competing visions. Thus, rather than eradicating existing political structures or being the catalyst for the creation of structures where once there was none, the construction of these mega-projects may not be as deterministic of neighborhood-level outcomes as might be expected. Instead, local area politics may mediate the relationship between MIDs and the resultant demographic and institutional characteristics of the neighborhood.