Colgate University Libraries


Allison Patchen


One of the most challenging effects of living below the poverty line is difficulty finding safe and affordable housing. In the early 1990s, the US government sought to remedy what social scientists call “concentrated poverty,” said to cause heightened crime rates, lower employment levels, and lesser educational attainment in cities. The result was Housing Opportunities for Everyone (HOPE VI), which is designed to replace low quality housing or abandoned buildings with new housing structures. For many people who live in cities, public housing is the only affordable option. Utica, a city that houses a large number of refugees, was one of the select cities in the United States to receive funding from the HOPE VI project. Through six diverse focus groups with residents of the Utica Municipal Housing Authority, I ask why public housing residents are not yet self-sufficient. In my analysis, I find that residents prefer to live in public housing for a variety of reasons, that many residents are under-informed about opportunities available to them, that they depend on family networks for support, and that there is a need for support services such as citizenship classes for refugees.