The Sorted City: San Francisco, Hope SF, and the Redevelopment of Public Housing
This dissertation examines the design of Hope SF, an innovative program in San Francisco that addresses both the physical decay of public housing properties and the social exclusion of public housing residents. Hope SF builds on the model of HOPE VI. Like HOPE VI, it attempts to remedy concentrated poverty and poor design by replacing class homogenous, dilapidated public housing sites with economically integrated, mixed-income communities. Projects achieve income diversity through increased density, phased development, and the one-for-one replacement of public housing units rather than the dispersal of residents. Because the program emphasizes integration, not relocation, every public housing family remains on-site. Service plans move public housing residents from their current condition of alienation and exclusion to their future as residents of new economically mixed neighborhoods.
While the Hope SF case provides numerous examples of best practices for local efforts to redevelop public housing, it also reflects the larger trends of localization, deregulation, and the retrenchment of the US welfare state. It provides a lens through which we can examine the differing landscapes of poverty and opportunity at this moment in the city. My analysis finds that Hope SF creates a geography of differentiated poverty: where poor households are pinned to a particular location, closely managed, connected to local workforce needs, and balanced on the threshold of exception. The overlapping public and private systems related to Hope SF and redevelopment create an infrastructure that sorts the affected population based on technical requirements and individual behaviors. While the lives of some public housing residents will be greatly improved as the result of Hope SF, others will lose not just their housing, but their right to remain in the city.