Creating thriving, sustainable mixed-income communities is a goal for many of the cities that are part of Living Cities’ The Integration Initiative (TII). Income mixing within neighborhoods, districts, cities, and regions holds promise for addressing several different kinds of problems – improving safety and amenities in distressed neighborhoods, increasing equity of resource distribution and benefits from public investments, and ensuring that cities offer homes and opportunities for individuals of all income levels.

Different cities involved in TII have different goals and face different challenges in fostering mixed-income communities:

  • Detroit faces a weak housing market and inner city neighborhoods with high vacancies. There, the goal is to attract and integrate higher-income residents into distressed high-poverty neighborhoods in the central city, improving overall neighborhood quality, and also benefit existing and long term low-income residents, while contributing to the citywide tax base.
  • In New Orleans, concern about gentrification in pockets of the city has inspired efforts to protect affordable housing in affected areas, so that low-income residents can benefit from new neighborhood investments.
  • San Francisco faces an intensely tight housing market that threatens to price low-income households out of the city. There, the redevelopment of a large section of the city is being designed to offer homes for diverse income levels, including significant public housing.

Translating these varied goals for mixed-income communities into effective interventions can be difficult. At a recent TII Learning Community, we explored the goals, challenges, and strategies for developing and sustaining mixed-income communities, in both weak and strong housing markets. We considered questions such as: What strategies and incentives can be used to create mixed-income neighborhoods and districts? What is needed to make sure a community can sustain a mix of incomes over time? How do policies and systems at the larger scale of city, region, or even state enable or hinder income-mixing efforts?

The framing paper developed as part of this learning process draws on existing research about mixed-income communities and interviews with leaders in the field. Designed to inform the practical efforts of TII site teams, it provides a framework for considering the goals, scale, and locations for income-mixing interventions, understanding key challenges, and identifying policies and incentives that can be used to achieve site-specific income-mixing goals.

View or download the framing paper: Building and Sustaining Thriving Mixed-Income Communities.