Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2022

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department

Social Work

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



In the United States, residential segregation by race and class has resulted in the creation and growth of geographic areas of concentrated poverty, or the concentration of mostly poor families of color into extremely poor neighborhoods. Due to the durability of concentrated poverty, along with the numerous adverse effects of living in neighborhoods characterized by concentrated poverty, deconcentrating poverty has been a prominent focus of urban poverty policy and housing and community development practice. Mixed-income development initiatives have emerged as promising strategies that focus on assisting low-income families living in distressed public housing while simultaneously investing in housing and neighborhood redevelopment. These strategies target distressed public housing projects for redevelopment, while providing intensive case management and supportive services to families living at the housing site.

As a result of housing redevelopment, families living at the site to be redeveloped are offered housing vouchers to assist with housing relocation during the redevelopment phases of the project. Thus, mixed-income strategies typically require families to move offsite, and thus involve an involuntary move. Additionally, the successful implementation of mixed-income strategies requires a complex network of public and private sector partners who collaborate to deliver a variety of programs and services to CNI families and in the surrounding communities. However, not a lot is known about the housing relocation process that occurs during mixed-income development, particularly within the newest mixed-income strategy, the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative (CNI), a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) sponsored program implemented in dozens of communities across the U.S. Additionally, collaboration dynamics within mixed-income initiatives, including challenges associated with housing relocation, have received little scholarly attention.

The purpose of this dissertation was to explore two goals of mixed-income strategies to: 1) improve quality-of-life for families through housing relocation, and 2) examine facilitators and barriers to partner collaboration within one mixed-income initiative, the South City Choice Neighborhoods Initiative (CNI) in Memphis, Tennessee. Data come from three primary sources. First, longitudinal administrative case records spanning 6 years from 2015 to 2021 for families living at the Foote Homes public housing site (n=383) were utilized to examine housing relocation and subsequent changes in quality-of-life indicators for families. Second, semi-structured interviews with partner staff (n=17) were conducted to identify facilitators and barriers to collaboration, including challenges associated with housing relocation. Third, a survey of partner collaboration was implemented with South City CNI partners (n=32) to better understand the unique structure of collaboration within mixed-income development initiatives.

Results suggested that families impacted by the South City CNI experienced significant improvements in perceptions of home and neighborhood safety following housing relocation. However, families also experienced significant increases in stress over time despite many families moving to less disadvantaged neighborhoods. A social network survey of partner organizations, along with interviews with organizational staff, indicated that coordinating challenges, especially those associated with housing relocation, were particularly salient in Memphis. The presence of a high-capacity lead organization was essential for overcoming coordination challenges and distributing information and resources throughout the partnership network. Additionally, several bridging organizations were identified that exhibited high levels of internal and external credibility and worked tirelessly to ensure families remained at the center of CNI redevelopment efforts.

These findings suggest that families impacted by the CNI may require additional services that target sources of stress above and beyond current services. Additionally, strategies that develop organizational capacity, particularly those focused on enhancing the capacity of CNI lead organizations to address coordination challenges, may translate to effective and efficient allocation of information and resources that ultimately benefit CNI families.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Patrick J. Fowler

Committee Members

Douglas A. Luke

Available for download on Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Included in

Social Work Commons