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July 1, 2022

On Uncertain Ground: Being at Home in the Context of Public Housing Redevelopment

Manzo, Lynne C. (2014). On Uncertain Ground: Being at Home in the Context of Public Housing Redevelopment. International Journal Of Housing Policy, 14(4), 389 – 410.

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The recent global financial crisis increased the volatility of housing markets and furthered the ongoing disinvestment in public sector housing. This disinvestment has been manifest in urban restructuring programmes involving both the privatisation and the wholesale demolition of public/social housing. For example, programmes like HOPE VI in the USA have radically altered the landscape of public housing through the demolition of tens of thousands of housing units nationwide. However, what of the people who occupied this housing, and what of the lives they had built there? In such a context, deliberating on the notion of being at home becomes a pressing task, necessitating serious consideration of the lived experience of place and place attachments among those who have been displaced by such programmes. While research has studied outcomes such as the quality of the new neighbourhood and household economic stability, it does not adequately address the lived experience of place and the disruptions that forced relocation can cause. This paper brings the literature on place attachment into the discussion of urban restructuring programmes and discusses the findings of several empirical studies on place attachment to provide a more complete picture of the impacts of such programmes on poor people. It demonstrates how place attachments in the context of public housing are complicated by poverty, power dynamics, ambivalence, and stigma, underscoring how attachments are formed through the interplay of policy and programme rhetoric, and the active processes of meaning making among residents. Policy implications of considering place attachments in public housing redevelopment efforts are also addressed.


Public Housing; Housing Development; Housing Market; Housing Assistance Agencies; Urbanization; Global Financial Crisis, 2008-2009; Being At Home; Hope Vi; Place Attachment; Urban Restructuring Programmes; Relocation; Residents; Stability; Landscape; Neighborhoods; Stigma; Poverty; Radicalism; Ambivalence; Public Policy; Social Programs; Public Finance; Public Sector; Economic Stabilization; Housing Authorities; International Finance; Economic Crisis; Privatization; Demolition; Volatility; Redevelopment; Low Income Groups; Rhetoric