New Haven tries mixing things up in public housing

New Haven is holding a lottery. The jackpot:  the opportunity to live in a brand new public housing community.  You can hear our story about it here:


For city residents like Richard Estrada, winning would mean a lot. He’s got two boys at home, one of whom has autism and who he says needs more space than he’s got now. Estrada’s not your usual public housing tenant. He’s got a good job, running maintenance for the city’s police stations. But that’s the idea of this lottery: the city’s looking for the working poor. The idea is to get people with different incomes living together. The federal government funds hundreds of mixed income communities like this around the country.  New Haven is using some money for this development that would have otherwise supported housing vouchers.  People can use vouchers to help pay rent at apartments around the city. Bob Ellickson, who teaches property law at Yale, says these mixed income communities are way better than the old model of clustering the poorest people in massive projects.  But he says they’re not as good as the vouchers, which he says help twice as many people.  Federal housing officials say rent vouchers can only do so much.  This project is a brand new development with built-in social services, like job training.  Add in the lottery to mix things up economically, and, they say, you may have created a community that can make some progress against poverty.

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