Interesting points, but isn't at least part of the reason Minneapolis and St. Paul only make up 13% of the projected need is because the core cities are only projected by the Met Council to comprise about 15% of future population growth and they already have a significantly greater % of total housing that is considered "affordable" at 60% AMI than the rest of the metro?
In short, I wouldn't say those projections say much at all about households preferring the suburbs. If anything, they are based on the contention that households prefer proximity to jobs, affordable housing, and accessible transit (in fact, the backbone of the projections is precisely these three variables). Skimming through the data tables, Minneapolis appears to have a much higher "job proximity" indicator than essentially any other community with more than 10,000 households; a higher availability of "affordable" housing; and the highest level of transit.
I know -- as I suggested, the study is badly oversimplified and ignores a number of important issues in housing placement. But even given a model that is about as friendly to the central cities as you could make it, it produces a housing share for them far lower than the actual share of funding they receive. To give a sense of the scale of spending on these central city projects, Five15 is costing about $52M, virtually all of it public money. The entire metro region's LIHTC budget for 2015 is equivalent (post-syndication) to about $70M.
Schools and safety may be another thing, but I'm not so sure that deconcentration of impoverished communities (especially ones comprised primarily of recent immigrants) out of the city and into the suburbs wouldn't just eventually result in new spatial configurations of poverty and segregation. I think this article describes my thinking on this fairly well: http://www.thepolisblog.org/2014/01/hou ... place.html
[edit: I want to be clear I am not claiming to have had anything to do with the authorship of the linked post, just that it fits with my own thinking]
I'd find the ideas in that article a lot more persuasive if we didn't have immediate historic precedent regarding large-scale concentrations of public housing. Public housing residents lived in unbelievable poverty, as bad as anything witnessed in the United States in the 20th century. They had virtually no chance of ever escaping the slums they were born into. And the persistence of this terrible poverty long after the success of civil rights in the South -- despite many attempts to address urban privation and segregation, even by many of the same groups and leaders -- belies the idea that concentration generates political strength. To focus on the support networks that grew up in the slums and ghettos is to miss the forest for the trees: the support networks were undoubtedly a necessary lifeline for many of these people, but the lifeline was necessary first and foremost because society had consigned them to such profound hardship.
As you say, even taking all that as true, that doesn't mean the answer is simply poverty dispersal. But no matter how we structure our affordable housing development, the bulk of our poor, nonwhite population is going to remain concentrated in the central cities -- there just isn't enough money currently available for affordable housing to reverse that trend. The article you posted -- which seems dedicatedly unempirical in this regard -- talks about how dispersal clears the way for gentrification, but as someone noted earlier, that rarely, rarely happens. Much more frequently, poor, distressed neighborhoods remain poor and distressed. And that is certainly the case here: if Minnesota spent every housing dollar it had in the rich city neighborhoods or whitest suburbs, it probably still couldn't truly deconcentrate poverty in North, Frogtown, Cedar-Riverside, and so on, nor could it break up immigrant communities. But it could provide lower-income, nonwhite Minnesotans a lot more opportunity to pursue jobs and schools and in a community of their own choosing.
And at the very least, it shouldn't be using that money to make the problem of concentration worse.
Tcmetro wrote:Well I don't believe that concentrating public housing in one area is the right thing to do, I also don't believe it's fair to locate the needy away from public transit services that connect them to the jobs and schools that can help them move upward in society. This housing is great in that aspect. It is directly served by two light rail lines that connect the neighborhood to all of the biggest job centers, shopping centers, colleges and universities, hospitals, and the airport. From that standpoint, it is much easier for residents of public housing in Cedar-Riverside to access upward mobility and opportunity. If we build public housing in Plymouth, Maple Grove, insert any 2nd ring suburb, etc, etc. how do those residents access the jobs that can help them out. Many suburban locations lack the public transit that can carry these people to the places they precisely need to go. In Eden Prairie, there are no local bus routes, only commuter expresses that are essentially parking shuttles for wealthy suburbanites to go to their downtown offices. Public housing residents who cannot afford cars are thus only able to walk or bike to the retail jobs or to purchase groceries. These people are then isolated in small islands of poverty, and cannot easily access the very opportunity that will help them out.
We need to have limits on where public housing should be built. I think a good rule of thumb would to only build public housing within walking distance of a bus service that operates every 30 minutes or better, and has evening and weekend services.
Honestly, this sort of reads as transit fetishism to me.
Central cities have always been at the center of transit networks and that hasn't prevented them from generating immense concentrations of poverty. The well-documented disadvantages of living in a distressed neighborhood are not rendered immaterial because someone living there can take a train ride to a better place. I find this approach especially frustrating because it assumes that people with lower incomes have dramatically different preferences than everyone else. Too often I see it used as a convenient defense of the status quo: "Many millions of people opt to live in areas ill-served by transit, but we shouldn't worry about whether low-income families feel the same, because surely they need access to twelve bus lines to thrive."
Yes, transit should be a consideration (although many of these families have access to cars). It is not the only one, and certainly not the most important.