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Research shows mixed-income developments aren’t always inclusive—and points the way forward

Just down the street from my campus office, a historic apartment complex is getting a major renovation. My team is working with the owners and new management to make sure it succeeds—not just as a business investment or architectural restoration, but as an inclusive community where a mix of families can thrive.

How can we help them stay and flourish in our community?

Our research shows that mixed-income developments are highly successful at physically revitalizing inner-city neighborhoods, but fall short in creating full equity and inclusion for all of their residents. Often, we found, the tenants, especially those who are lower income, can’t—or won’t—stay in the apartment post- renovation. And those who do stay can feel stigmatized and unwelcome.

So how can we make sure our neighbors in this Cleveland apartment building—nearly three-quarters of whom are from federally subsidized, low-income households— maintain strong connections to the building during the renovation process?

How can we help them stay and flourish in our community?

We’re getting to work: conducting household surveys, leading community building and resident support work, and helping to develop a longer-term plan for a successful mixed-income community. Our team has even helped start a monthly “NeighborUp Night” for residents to connect with and support each other, and discuss topics of importance to them.

Over the past year, our center received more than $1.8 million in funding for research and technical assistance in mixed- income communities around the country. Putting this work into practice in our own backyard can promote mixed-income success in our own community—and serve as a model for neighborhoods well beyond.

Mark L. Joseph, Founding Director of the National Initiative on Mixed-Income Communities and the Leona Bevis/Marguerite Haynam Associate Professor in Community Development

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