Harold Henderson’s review of Where Are Poor People to Live? [“Is Mixed-Income the Way?” December 15] raises the question of “mixed-income housing.” If you’re not going to start something new in a cornfield, there are two ways to have poor people and middle-class people live in the same neighborhood. You can have poor people move into a middle-class neighborhood; you can have middle-class people move into a poor neighborhood.
Having middle-class people move into a poor neighborhood is called “mixed-income housing” and is often supported by government subsidy. Having poor people move into a middle-class neighborhood is called “blight.” This always leads to calls–often answered–for government intervention to prevent it.
I’ve seen the same neighborhood undergo both phenomena. First the state of Illinois subsidized the provision of middle-class housing in a previously all-poor neighborhood; then the middle-class people who had moved in argued for city efforts to get the poor people out of their neighborhood, where they were “threatening property values.”