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Mixed Metaphors


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Harold Henderson's review of Where Are Poor People to Live? ["Is Mixed-Income the Way?" December 15] raises the question of "mixed-income housing." If you're not going to start something new in a cornfield, there are two ways to have poor people and middle-class people live in the same neighborhood. You can have poor people move into a middle-class neighborhood; you can have middle-class people move into a poor neighborhood.

Having middle-class people move into a poor neighborhood is called "mixed-income housing" and is often supported by government subsidy. Having poor people move into a middle-class neighborhood is called "blight." This always leads to calls--often answered--for government intervention to prevent it.

I've seen the same neighborhood undergo both phenomena. First the state of Illinois subsidized the provision of middle-class housing in a previously all-poor neighborhood; then the middle-class people who had moved in argued for city efforts to get the poor people out of their neighborhood, where they were "threatening property values."

Frank Palmer


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