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Georgetown University Law Center




HOPE VI must have seemed so promising. When, in 1992, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) introduced the program later dubbed "HOPE VI," replacing the country's worst public housing projects with mixed-income, mixed-use, low-density new developments while providing targeted social services to low-income residents must have seemed like a worthy pursuit indeed. America's most run-down, crime-ridden, and poverty-plagued residential properties could be transformed into "human-scale" New Urbanist streetscapes, aesthetically continuous with surrounding areas, that would inspire pride and community in their residents. Perhaps most importantly, HOPE VI's required social service component might have seemed, at last, to recognize certain structural aspects of poverty by providing holistic support services--to include health care, day care, job-training, and transportation--to public housing residents. And, with federal grants of up to $50 million to each project selected, intended to be used to leverage private, philanthropic, and other public financing that can increase the capital available for a given project by several times, the program might have seemed sufficiently well-funded to make good on these promises.

Twelve years on, HOPE VI was a mixed blessing.

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