Public housing residents have long experienced stigma as members of an urban “underclass.” By deconcentrating poverty and integrating public housing residents into mixed-income communities where their residences are indistinguishable from those of their higher-income neighbors, some policymakers hope that the stigma these residents have experienced will be reduced or eliminated. Through interviews with relocated public housing residents at three mixed-income developments being built as part of Chicago’s Plan for Transformation, we find that this is not the case. While stigma associated with living in public housing has subsided, residents report that their experience of stigma has intensified in new ways. The negative response of higher-income residents, along with stringent screening and rule enforcement, amplifies the sense of difference felt by many residents. This new experience with stigma has generated a range of coping responses from relocated public housing residents as they adjust to these new, mixed-income environments.
This brief is based on a longer paper, The New Stigma of Relocated Public Housing Residents: Challenges to Social Identity in Mixed-Income Developments (McCormick, Joseph, and Chaskin, 2012, City & Community, 11(3): 285-308).